[ From the Archives of 365 ]
“The most important thing that I want to tell the world is to respect everyone, the planet, and everything. Nobody talks for real peace, everyone tries to fix the problem. But the way they are doing it is creating more problems. We need to show more open hand than the fist.”
“Look at people for who they are inside, and respect everyone. Not for what they look like on the outside… and don’t judge by clothing, job, or looks.” — Gaetiao
The sun was setting fast and, as I hurried to park my car, I hoped sunlight would light my sidewalk portrait and interview of a stranger that night. Into the parking structure I raced as I readied myself for a foot dash to crowds on the streets below. Into my precision driving skills, I pushed as with a last-dash veer, and at G-forces that were perhaps a little excessive, I sped toward what looked like the last open space on the top floor. Seemed safe to do, the lot was empty of people after all, or at least I thought. As I got out of my car I realize that I was not alone in my speed-racing moment. Walking towards me was a man who seemed to be in a rush of his own.
I thought “Stay out of his path, he looks like he has someplace to go, and in a hurry?”
But in a spark of thought that line of reason was extinguished as I reached out with a simple, “Hello.”
The hello led to a kind gesture returned, and that kind gesture led to a brief conversation. I asked if I could interview him.
A transplant to the United States from Sicily, Gaetiao spoke of his reasoning for coming to America. “I’m a mafia refuge,” he smilingly began.
“A mafia refuge?” I inquired.
Gaetiao smiled again as he elaborated, “I’m just kidding about the mafia… but it is very difficult to get a job in Sicily unless you know someone. That is what I mean by my joke. Every day I was working very hard for a better life… and I did not like the rules. If you needed a job, it was about who you knew… not what you could do… or who you were. And in a way, I guess it is a little of the same everywhere. They change the music, but the rhythm is still the same.”
“What about the future Gaetiao?” I expanded.
With grace, he replied, “The most important thing that I want to tell the world is to respect everyone, the planet, and everything. Nobody talks for real peace, everyone tries to fix the problem. But the way they are doing it is creating more problems. We need to show more open hand than the fist.”
“Are we getting close to being finished?” Gaetiao asked. “I have to finish a job I’m w
We clicked a few frames, and with a warm and sincere eye-to-eye handshake, we went our ways.