A Poor Imigrant

by Arshavir Nazarian

A POOR IMIGRANT

I don't know if the collapse of Iran's government in 1979 had prophesied in Bible or Nostradamus had ever foretold in his book about it or not, but it happened anyway. The revolution changed every thing in country. Did it occur because of some underline causes or from the moves of some behind curtain decision? Too many unfamiliar words and terms and ISM popped up from people's mouth and many political groups which mostly were against each other grow up from every where. At first days it seamed some positive reforms in governmental system would occur, but when Islamic fundamentals got their position, then any thing became up side down. To clear all past regime's foot steps from entire scene and remove all their opponents' movements, they attempted any dirty political tricks either by force or injustice executions to stabilize their new position. Conflict, violation and fear spread in all Iran's major cities. Every body was under suspicion and every body's life was in danger; Iran wasn't a safe place to leave any more.

Yervand Safarian is a professional black smith. Black smiting skill was a heritage occupation in Safarians family for many generations. The skill had brought to Iran by his early ancestors from root country of Armenia almost 400 years ago and stayed with family until our time. Yervand Safarian and his family were one of those Armenian families that stayed in Iran until late nineties, waiting to see any positive changes or improvement in Islamic government policies. Then unwanted war between Iraq and Iran began which made more chaotic situation in country and Islamic rules and regulations became more restricted. Finally Yervand sold his black smith factory and other belongings and like many other Christian minorities in Iran joined to huge numbers of families who left the country one after another to find better destiny in abroad.

Their adventure began from west border of Iran, pretty close to majestic Mount Ararat. They saw many monumental old churches, cathedrals, bridges and villages remained from ancient Armenian empire which occupied by Turkish enemy. Their journey extended to Northeastern Europe damp and cold climate; where Yugoslavia, Check and Bulgaria located. They suffered from unknown languages and unfamiliar customs for few months. Then they move to Europe's Alpine green forest countries and suffered for additional year from loneliness and hopelessness. Finally they fallow the rumors came from west and like most Iranian refugees their exploration attempt to find a decent living place guided them to U.S.A, the land of opportunity.

Glendale, a city with lots of trees and green landscapes, located on Southern California, has become an Armenian community since 1977. During thirty years a big portion of Armenian immigrants, spread world wide gathered in this city. Some came from the origin country of Armenia after Russia collapsed on 1985. Others came from Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, and Europe and far beyond. The main reason that Armenian people chose California instead of other forty nine states as a new home might be the sunny and warm climate California can offer to all its visitors and Armenian as early sun and fire worshiper loved to settle there.

If Christ's Apostles would not visited Armenia 1800 years ago, they would defiantly remain sun and fire worshipper until know. The weekly barbeque parties in back yards of every Armenian household living in Glendale is a good proof of their attraction to fire, happy hours and nature.

In Glendale, Armenian Gentlemen are easy recognizable. Since Armenian people are mostly handy men, every morning, you can see them driving their trucks out of city and return home in late afternoon. Armenian ladies are easy recognizable too; Walking in streets and shopping in most of the times and trying to get more attention with their nice body figure and well dressed position, Lord, they are beautiful.

Yervand Safarian entrance in America was like Spanish conquistadors who wanted to take over all benefits from New Land. Like other new comers in land of opportunity, Yervand inspired with modern technology's availability all around, tried to fulfill his dreams with a super energetic start up. For first couple of months Yervand tried to adapt himself with new society's life style and as the pioneers say "melt in melting pot" in other word "change yourself"; but change to become what? He hadn't had a clear idea at that moment.

As a beginner, he put some new habits in his daily routine. He shaved every day and dressed well and tried to fallow all basic society's laws and strongly pushed his wife, son and daughter to do so.

Later he tried to improve his English communication skill which was a hard challenge with devastating result from first stages. He wanted to get high education and become a doctor. He had always wishing to become a doctor since his youth and have a prestigious job. He hated to be a black smith as he used to be for long time. No matter what kind of doctor he wished to be, medical doctor, scientist doctor, literature..., just because the title of doctor had a high prestigious value deep inside of Yervand's soul, he wanted to get that.

When he noticed how developed American educational system is and how many collage and university exist in California; he took nine collage units in English language and dedicated himself to education. For a while if anybody asked him about his occupation, he answered them "I am getting education to get a degree and make money with the pick point of my pen not with my muscles". Since he was fifty five years old and his mind hadn't had the freshness of a teenager, his progress was awful. In the other hand his family members weren't happy with Yervand's way. He was the head of family and according to Iranian living style and custom, he suppose to taking care of them at first place. In the other hand Yervand's savings that he had brought from Iran and it was a life time hard working saving was getting finished. Family Life costs money and adaptation with the new country cost more. His kids wanted car for they own and his wife didn't satisfied with old fashion underwear any more and asking for Victoria Secret.

The family had to be taking care of; therefore he gave up the collage and the goal to become a doctor and started to think about a job. Finding a job wasn't that easy as Yervand thought. No one wanted to hire him, because he wasn't young anymore and most of Armenian connection he had were in construction field; therefore they were looking for strong young guys to handle hard tasks. In the other hand, employers didn't even pay the minimum wages to their workers. After trying couple of those construction hard jobs and returning home dirty and tired with less money, he quit the job and stayed home for few days and thought about the situation. After a while break, he announced the solution to his family. "I have to establish my own business" he said. "I have to be the boss of my own job as I used to be in back country". His wife asked him about kind of business he wanted to do and he proudly answered "I will run a black smith business, just like the old time". His wife and children hadn't had any idea about Yervand's decision but since they had heard that only people with good income could buy house and new cars, they just encouraged him to do so. That night, after children got sleep, Yervand's wife gave an extra traditional care and support to her husband as a start up for his new business.

The very next day, Yervand checked the remained savings and calculated the required money to buy a truck, a welding machine and some essentials tools; the result matched with his cash saving more or less. The day after, he went to down town with his cousin Beno to buy the equipments he needed. Beno had come to U.S.A many years ago so he was his translator and counselor. Yervand wanted to buy everything from used market, but Beno advised him "used tools are fine, but you have to buy a new truck, new car is like healthy feet, you have to drive long distances to get the job sites so it has to be brand new. By the way, new car gives more prestige to your occupation and most of customers check the appearance of handy men like you". Buying new truck changed Yervand's estimation so he became short in some amount of money; therefore for the first time he used his six mouths old credit account to cover the trucks price.

After finishing their shopping, they returned home at late afternoon. Yervand was proud of his first step in his own business and Beno was happy for his help. At the evening, Yervand's family celebrated his first victory with the companionship of Beno's household. They made barbeque and drank vodka to the success of Yervand's new business. Of course, again at late night, Yervand's wife as supporter and encourager gave another round of chance to his husband to complete his happiness.

One week passed, then second and the third, but Yervand couldn't find any welding job in city and around. To overcome his desperate nervousness, he drank every afternoon. His cousin Beno advised him again "If you want to get a job, you have to announce and advertise about your services in community. How people going to give you job when they don't know who you are? What are you doing and how they can reach you?" Sound was reasonable, so Yervand fallowed his cousin's instructions. With the help of Beno they rent a small office around industrial area of Glendale. Then they ordered some business cards and got business permit from City. Naturally, all of these coasted additional money that paid with Yervand's household credit cards.

Every day Yervand went to his office and wait for customer's calls, but nobody called him or came to his office regarding job order, except some of his old friends from back country who visited him in daily bases. At first they were coming to say their congratulation to Yervand for his new business, further the office became a rest aria for many other unemployed friends who had already loaded with too much pressures from new society's life style. That cozy place was suitable for stupid chats, drinking beers and releasing daily pressures with an old traditional solution, smoking opium.

Every body tried to give some stupid idea to Yervand to make his business better, but none of them worked. Some of them recommended stronger advertisement in local TV channels and newspapers, some offered him to get partner. Others just disappointed him with revealing his business weak points. "This country is all about wood, the houses, the equipment and every thing you could imagine and you chose to do welding"! "It is about location, location, location". "This country is running by women, you have to do kinds of business related to women, like sale underwear or perfume and shoes".

Six months passed and Yervand couldn't even make his office monthly rent. No savings, no income, no hope and too much unpaid payments; that was the end of his dreams. Beno introduced a lawyer to Yervand and he managed the bankruptcy process for him in a way that he could get some extra cash advanced money from credit companies before bankruptcy get filed. Yervand shout down the business, the truck towed by auto dealer and he moved his family to a small one bedroom apartment and became eligible to receive some cheep monthly amount from county welfare service.

Yervand's life became desperately sad. He lost most of his friends and visitors. In his family, he lost his powerful authority and became a target for his wife sour tong bites. She didn't listen to her Lord's commands any more and mostly spent out of home, nobody knew where or with whom. Farther Yervand was drunk most of the time and his children didn't respect him any more. To forget his broken situation, Yervand didn't stay at home too much and escaped from his family's sight.

The only place he liked the most to spend his desperate times was the near by coffee shop, where always people with more free time available; People with great ideas and views who could not fulfill their great dreams in new country for many, many reasons. Before coming to New World most of them had their personal business, one or two houses, and suburb garden and quit amount of savings in back countries. Unable to assimilate with economic system of New World they lost almost all of their wealth and became empty handed; therefore they gave up the hard task of challenge and chose less pressure for their life style. They chose to live an easy life with less income and less pressure but with much fun and relaxation. In spite of empty pocket, Yervand didn't lose his personal hygiene, shaved and dressed well; he showed up every day and sat on his favorite out door corner seat from morning to late afternoon. He drank many cups of coffee, smoked too much cigarette and watching people all around and became a loyal customer of coffee shop.

Once in a while some familiar fellows visited the coffee shop and spent some time with Yervand. Little by little Yervand found some more friends; the coffee shop employments were the first group who respected him as daily customer. He made friendly relationship with many customers who used to come there once in a while. He didn't lose the chance to get involve in conversation with those white fellows and even with too many mistakes in English and bad accent he kept the conversation in progress. He was surprised on his improvement in English. In collage he was confused with grammar laws and regulation and that prevent him to start talking, but here in coffee shop he linked the words together and made understand able sentences even though they all were grammatically wrong.

To avoid any sense of depression or tediousness sometimes he used small amount of opium and under influence he kept his positive mood until the end of daylight and kept chatting and talking about any political, social or science subjects with anybody stop by. Day by day he became more settle in coffee shop. Almost every body knew where they could find Yervand. Any body wanted to see him came to coffee shop. His seat was always reserved for him and no body sat on that corner seat. Any body who knew Yervand when passing by stopped and had a coffee with him. The coffee shop employees liked Yervand, because guys usually gathered around his table and buy coffee from shop and kept business going.

On a Wednesday afternoon one of Yervand's friends met him in coffee shop. During conversation, he irritated about his back bone pain and wished if there was some Opium for his back pain. Yervand heart pitied about his friend and put his hand in his pocket and gave a little bit of his opium to him. His friend was surprised. He couldn't believe someone in America may have opium. He accept Yervand's gift and used it with a sip of hot coffee. An hour later, he said to Yervand that the pain was disappeared. Then he asked if he could buy some. Yervand told him about the price of each gram and promised him that he could get some the day after. After ordering five gram and pay some money In advance Yervand's friend went home.

Every thing Yervand explained to his friend about the opium was correct except the price. He put ten additional dollars for every gram of opium as his personal profit. Yervand bought the amount of opium his friend ordered and some for himself at same day from drug dealer he has already knew. In the mean time the drug dealer gave him a chipper deal because he bought more than five grams.

Yervand didn't knew that the simple transaction between him and his friend going to be known by others. Even though he insisted his friend nobody should know about the deal; but from next day most of coffee shop customers who had Iranian back ground approached him quietly and asking Yervand about some opium. Some wanted it for body pain, some for sexual strength and others just for fun.

Day by day he got more and more orders and he bought more opium from the main dealer with chipper price. All of a sudden he noticed that he gathered quite amount of money from the profits in his own pocket. That was the first time after coming in U.S.A that he made that much money. The interesting part of the issue was that he didn't do anything just pass from one hand and put in another and good thing about the profit was it was tax free.

After two months, Yervand had many customers; therefore more money. He bought a cellular phone that was ringing all the time, especially on weekends. Many people called him that he didn't even knew them and asking about opium. A month later he bought a decent used Toyota for himself and took his family to restaurant couples of time. The flow of cash money was unbelievable almost five hundred on week days and around nine hundreds on week ends.

He became a quiet character then. In his favorite coffee shop every visitor respected him and every body treaded nice and polite with him. After five p.m when tired employees returned from their job, some of them stopped by to buy some stuff from Yervand. They used to call him with nick name of Doctor because he fixed their addiction languishing and made them calm and relax. The Doctor nick name was quiet his favorite as he always wanted to got that title but he never believed that he could got that easy.

The coffee shop employee had thought that he was a retired doctor and got respect of his people. Some others thought he was a though guy and head of sort of gang or something. At the home, his family respected him like old days. He gave his children enough money to buy what ever they want and for his wife he bought a brand new car which changed her resent cold attention to a total dedication to his beloved braved husband.

Day by day Yervand became reached and naturally more powerful and fatter. His power took many ladies attention as they had the natural thirst of power and money and he gave some services to them in near by motels once in a while. With all multi characteristic relationship that he established during six months, he got the friendship of many important people. A few musician, couple of lawyers, an orthopedic doctor, dentists, social workers, car dealers, real-estate brokers and bank clerks; therefore for any need people asking he could give them his personal advise or in harder cases he could introduce to his connections. In addition he always charged some percentage as his personal share for the services he provided and nobody complained.

He expanded his business in different fields, all kinds of immigration and disability cases were acceptable with different rate and prices. Any new comer somehow had to some business with Yervand. Looking for apartment with low rent? Go see Yervand, searching for job? Ask Yervand. Want to get social security income? See Yervand. Your fianc is in Iran and can't come to America? Talk to Yervand. Can't pay your house mortgage payments or had an accident recently and couldn't get money from insurance? Yervand has many good lawyers as friend so he could help. There were many professional businesses that Yervand was indirectly involved and got his cut just with couples of call to this and that guy. Against Yervand's opinions nobody dared to say a word; showing respect couldn't be a good reason, but fear could be. In the other hand decent people's general opinion about Yervand's occupation wasn't nice to declare entirely. Most people knew him as a devil drug dealer or a dirty pimp and a nasty hustler.

Yervand was pretty busy. The coffee shop corner seat wasn't a sad host for Yervand to forget his problems any more, but it was kind of office or head quarter for his daily profitable business.

After one year Yervand could put a decent down payment to buy a house in wealthy location of Glendale. He put house title on Beno's name to receive the welfare benefits as long as possible. He had getting used to say "money is money, doesn't matter in what sources it comes".

In his new house Yervand separate one of the rooms for his office and furnished and computerized it and encouraged his wife and daughter to learn some computer skills that they can involved in business which had too many clients recently. In his room Yervand didn't do too much things, just drinking couple of beer, answered to his customers phone calls and watch his favorite movie, GOD Father, for several times which inspired him the most; even though he couldn't understand the movie's dialog at all.

To get the highest gain from his home, Yervand put some poppy seeds in the back yard some one brought from back country as a gift. This new act would make him an independent producer of his drug business and after he saw the first grow plants in his back yard he was so exited to say God bless America all the time. These new product gave a chance to Yervand to became bold and proud for producing a hundred percent natural product. To give a clear reputation for his agricultural job, he told to his family "One of the main founders of this great country Mr. Benjamin Franklin used to grow poppies in his back yard. God bless his soul"

In response to his friends and relative regarding how he got his success, he always said "the only requirement is changing; the point is you have to melt in this society, the rest will come automatically".

Yervand always tried to keep the main reason of his success in secret from public and nobody exactly knew what he was doing except some governmental hidden eyes. Also there was some gossip that said undercover cops were monitoring his daily movements and his money transactions.

The rest is clear; every body knows what is going to happen next.

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