I work in a co-working space in the city, meaning that many people have office on my floor and we share common areas. If you want it to be, it can be a social environment. I mostly keep to myself, but sometimes random people say hi to me.
Today a random guy started a conversation with me. We were both making teas. He looks at me and says, “You are with that shaving company.” After I confirmed he said, “too bad I will never be your customer.” This man was a Sikh.
–Traditional Sikhs grow out their hair and beards, usually wrapped and tied into their head garment called a Dastar. So my fellow tea drinker would never buy shaving products because he has never cut his hair or shaved his face. —
I wanted to keep the momentum of our conversation going, so I told him that I am from an Orthodox Jewish community and know many people that have grown out their beards for religious reasons.
Then he said the following:
“In the 80’s I was a technology salesman in Mississippi and I told people that I was a Hasidic Jew to explain my beard. It was easier than explaining what a Sikh was.”
It never occurred to me that someone would describe themselves as a religious Jew in order to make a situation easier to explain. Growing up in South Carolina, I was almost always the only Jew among friends, explaining why Jews do one thing or another or wear one thing or another. I can only imagine what Mississippi was like in the 80’s.
My new friend finished filling up his tea before I finished mine. He walked away while I was still laughing. I did not get the chance to introduce myself or say goodbye.
If you are reading this Mr. Sikh, my name is Aviv. It was nice to meet you. Thank you for making my day today.