Exactly You Right

27 Feb

I LOVE this phrase.

Not because I’m being told I am right. I love it because it’s said by one of my most favorite people at work, Salim  (su-leem’).

Salim is not employed by the hotel, but we all feel like he is.  He is, in fact, our dedicated taxi driver. He is the one we call whenever any of our guests need transportation. He’s reliable, he’s fair, and he treats our guests exactly the way we do.

I tend to work mostly morning shifts, beginning work at 6 or 7 am.  Sometimes I come up to the desk and he’s already there.  He greets me with a huge smile, “Good MORNing, Row-byn”.  His accent is adorable.  He’ll raise his hand high in the air for our usual high-five.

It’s an awesome way to start my day.

These past few months have been pretty slow at work, (which means it’s slow for him too), so he’ll hang around a little longer to talk.  I’ve come to love our morning chats, and I learn more and more about him every time.  He’s originally from Somalia.  He’s a few years older than I, and has just as many kids.  His wife doesn’t work, so their income is solely based on his taxi service.  He owns his own van, and has a small group of friends he’ll call if he’s already on a run when we call.  If we call him to take a guest to the airport, he returns the favor by giving us $5.  Some of the desk agents have come to expect this from him, but most of us, me especially, just REALLY appreciate it.  Especially when I know money must be tight for him. I’ve tried to tell him that it’s okay, he should keep it, but he won’t hear of it.  So when he puts his hand out with the money in his palm, I shake his hand while taking it, and sincerely offer my thanks.  Often he’ll say, “You nice lady.”  For Christmas, I wanted to get him something, but didn’t really know what.  So, I baked him some of my favorite treats and included a whole bunch of scratch-offs in his card. If he won anything, he didn’t tell, 😉  but he was appreciative just the same.

Many of our conversations have to do with our children, and how hard it is to raise teenagers these days.  We gripe about how lazy they are, and how they want, want, want….

I’ve learned that he only has one television in his house.  ONE!  Because he knows that if he gets another, the kids will constantly be in front of the television.  Of course he complains because he rarely gets to watch his favorite news shows, but he won’t give in to getting another.  (We have four. And four computers.  I obviously have given in… ugh.)

So instead of TV, he will often sit in his Taxi in front of our hotel and listen to NPR.  Or he’ll come into the lobby and watch a bit of the news on our TV.  Then he’ll come talk to me again, about what’s happening.

I love these moments.  He’ll start talking in his very broken English.  I usually struggle to keep up with him, catching a few words here and there…. enough to be able to figure out what he’s saying.  I’ll help him finish his sentences and he’ll slap his hand on the desk, point his finger at me and say “ExACTly you right.  ExACTly you right, Row-byn.”

If there’s nothing in the news to talk about, he’ll come up and say “What’s going on, Row-byn, What’s going on.”  He says it melodiously (is that a word??).

I’ll answer one of two ways:  “Nuthin’ Salim.  It’s too quiet.”   or “It’s busy today Salim”.  Either way he’ll answer

“You be aw-right.”

If I ask him “What’s going on with you”, he’ll answer “same ol’, same ol’.  You know.”

So sometimes I’ll answer him with that same phrase.  He always gets a kick out of that.

These repetitive conversations are comforting.  Many times we are too busy to get into deeper discussions. (It really takes a lot of concentration from me to understand him), so we’re content with our high fives and “What’s going on…” phrases.

To an outsider, these conversations look meaningless, but to me, they’ve brought an unexpected friendship.  How can you not admire a guy who came to the U.S. to give his family a better life.  Who works extremely hard for very little, and is incredibly smart.  Heck, he knows more about our country than I do.  And he’s fighting the same battles with his children that most americans do, but doing a better job of it. He KNOWS how to be a success and he’s effectively guiding his children in the right direction.

Someday I want to say to him:

ExACTly you right, Salim.


Posted by on February 27, 2012 in The Hotel, Uncategorized


Tags: , , , ,

16 responses to “Exactly You Right

  1. agg79

    February 27, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    Exactly you right. I love how he has worked hard to make a better life for himself and his family. I have known a couple who came over Vietnam on the boat lift and they built an incredible life for themselves and their kids (all the kids became doctors). You have to admire that spirit/drive. They work hard for some of the freedoms and opportunities that we take for granted. I think that you have made a true friend there.

    • shadowrun300

      February 27, 2012 at 11:54 pm

      They definitely don’t take our freedom for granted. Sometimes I think our whole country is one big teenager with parents (the government) who just continue to give without making sure we’ve earned it first. (I’ve been kinda big on the ‘earning’ stuff lately.) But these guys do ‘earn’ it. It’s very impressive and admirable.

  2. Mike

    February 27, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    What a respectable guy. Wife Unit has told me about some of the taxi driver experiences you folks had at your previous establishment. This guy sounds like the complete opposite. Give him a high five for me.

  3. shadowrun300

    February 27, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    OMG – Salim is NOTHING like the taxi drivers we had there. He’s seen the fights other drivers have, but he’ll have no part of it. That’s why we continue to use him. He represents our hotel very well. Like us, if he’s asked to do something, he’ll say “AB-solutely”. I love it! 🙂

  4. Abby

    February 28, 2012 at 1:49 am

    Salim from Somalia. I like him!

    I love how first generationers (yes, I think melodiously is a word, but not sure about “generationers”) don’t take things for granted and don’t always have their hands out. What a great guy!

    • shadowrun300

      February 28, 2012 at 3:07 am

      I love that too! He would never hold his hand out. And he doesn’t spend money on a lot of material things, even though his kids beg him for iPhones, etc. He tells them, “No. You keep money you have. Tomorrow, maybe you have no money.” And I’ll say “You’re right. The kids need to learn to save their money and not spend it as soon as they get it.” And he says: “ExACTly you right”. 🙂

      If generationers isn’t a word, it should be. It’s easier to understand than some of Salim’s words.

  5. towardshealthylife

    February 28, 2012 at 2:26 am

    Same in Canada we forget how easy we have it here and then you see someone like salim who has left everything behind and try to make a new life while learning a new language , some of them are fully educated but their diplomas are not recognised here, it must be so tough!

  6. shadowrun300

    February 28, 2012 at 3:12 am

    Good point! I’ll have to ask him how much education he’s had. He seems so intelligent and understands the ways of the world quite well. AND he’s always positive. I rarely hear him complain about anything. “It be alright” is a common phrase from him. 🙂

  7. meleah rebeccah

    February 28, 2012 at 4:24 am

    “Many of our conversations have to do with our children, and how hard it is to raise teenagers these days. We gripe about how lazy they are, and how they want, want, want….”

    SO SO SO SO VERY TRUE! As the mother of a 15 year old, I know!

    • shadowrun300

      February 28, 2012 at 8:26 pm

      Oh yes – me too! I have 4 teenagers! His kids have become very americanized, but he’s definitely been able to stick to his guns on issues he thinks are important. I’m so impressed! I hope to learn a few things from him…..

  8. Jules

    February 28, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    It is so hard to find a decent taxi driver. I’m glad you have one you can depend on and call for your guests, and also one you can have a unique friendship with. 🙂

    • shadowrun300

      February 28, 2012 at 8:28 pm

      Salim has been working with our hotel for a long time. He wants us to keep using him which is why he’ll give us $5 for longer trips. That was smart on his part, to keep our return business, but what he may not realize is that most of us would call him anyway, just because he’s good.

  9. territerri

    February 29, 2012 at 2:48 am

    I love this. What a wonderful friend you’ve mad in Salim! And how many people wouldn’t have even given him a chance because he’s different, not from here? You have a generous spirit and Salim recognizes it in you.

  10. shadowrun300

    February 29, 2012 at 3:29 am

    He really is such a sweet guy, which makes me want the best for him. I’m sure he doesn’t have an easy life, but he loves life. He’s very positive and so he rarely complains about anything. I could learn a lot from him. 🙂

  11. Anita

    February 3, 2015 at 2:22 am

    Is your name Robin? I’ve always wanted to know, but thought you just wanted to be shadowrun, so didn’t ask.

    • shadowrun300

      February 3, 2015 at 3:40 am

      Yep, that’s me! Spelled with a ‘y’ though. 😉
      I prefer to stay anonymous incase someone at work comes across my blog. But I’ve slipped up a few times… including the use of Salim’s name here. oops.


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