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Today I want to tell you about something that happened to me last week that made me think a lot about prejudice, fear of the other different and unknown, and the alertness in which we live on a daily basis that makes it difficult to trust the other and to be open to the other.

On a morning like any other, I arrive at the studio, around 10 a.m., late and always a bit rushed and already immersed with my thoughts in the things I was supposed to be doing, not paying much attention to what was going on around me. I barely notice a white truck parked in front of one of the two entrance gates, but I don’t ask many questions, there are always workers fixing something or suppliers delivering something, ordinary everyday stuff. 

I open the main gate with the remote control, and as I wait for it to open, I am approached by a young man: thin, medium height, dark complexion, not African but likely Arab, very black eyes, hair, mustache and slightly pointed stubble equally black, a backpack on his shoulder. He asks me, politely, if I lived there. Immediately thoughts overlap at lightning speed: where did “this” come from? did he get off the truck? why the question? The studio building is very nice, in a very posh area and actually could attract someone who maybe wants to rob the rich guy who lives there… but no come on, it’s broad daylight, and then there are the military with machine guns just 50 meters away, protecting the entrance to the Israeli embassy… I relax and say, “no I don’t live there, I work there, why?” “Excuse me for asking, but I’ve asked everyone around here and no one will let me in, I have a problem because I have to go to the Israeli embassy but I have this backpack, it has the computer in it, and they won’t let me take it or leave it anywhere and I don’t know how to do it, is there any way I can leave it and then I’ll come and get it back when I’m done? “… femtoseconds of paralysis and thoughts faster than light: mmmhh but will it be true? Will he want to go inside to see the inside to organize a robbery later? Come on… stop thinking wrong all the time… But it’s his truck, can’t he leave his backpack in the truck? And if it is not his, is it possible that there is no custodial service in the embassy? Yes possible, maybe they are afraid of attacks and they don’t want to guard objects…attacks in fact, what if he wants to leave the backpack at our place and have it blow up later? The embassy is practically attached to studio … I look at the guy, he’s kind, polite, seems sincere…. Yes yes he seems, but what do you think, that the bombers walk around with a crazy face and a bomb in their hands? It’s obvious they are polite and look “normal”… Phew, what do I do? I look at him again, he must be about 20/25 years old, he has an open face, I don’t feel in danger (apart from my paranoia, but I know it’s paranoia and not real danger) nor do I feel distress, his eyes don’t look hard or angry, I can’t bring myself to say no to him, I feel like a racist and someone who gets caught up in senseless fears if I say no to him, I would feel bad about it. “Yes of course come in” “Thank you, really, no one let me in” “It’s just that they are afraid” (they eh, instead you stay very quiet eh, what a fake you are, ahahah)… We go inside, he puts the backpack down in a corner and thanks again. But why doesn’t he ask me how he gets it back? Am I not screwing up? I’m putting myself and everyone in danger to not say no, that’s it, I’m such a radical chich… as my grandfather used to say, you die for convenience… Stroke of genius: I ask him for his phone number if he doesn’t make a fuss it means he’s sincere… “Listen but to get your backpack back how do you do it? Tell you what, leave me your number and I’ll leave you mine.” But as we exchange numbers the anxiety rises: maybe the number is one of those disposable ones… and you gave him yours too!! and maybe he blows himself up and the police will trace it back to you… manslaughter conspiracy… heeelp… Whatever, it’s done now. “Bye, see you later” “Thanks again“.

I go up the stairs, I get to work, at first the thought mulls over that backpack…maybe I go down, open it and see if there really is a computer…. what if there’s a bomb and I detonate it? look, if you really believe there’s a bomb, call the police right away or go to the military on the street and tell them what happened, otherwise stop fooling around and get to work, which is already late… No, I don’t really believe there’s a bomb, it’s just a superstructure, I know… I start working, I forget about the backpack, I forget about the phone too and to check if the guy calls me to get his backpack back!!!

11:30, a flesh: geez, I didn’t check the mobile, what if he called me to get his backpack back? Poor guy, he must be waiting outside in the cold! I immediately look at the mobile, indeed there was a call at 11 a.m. from Studio Backpack Boy! Yikes!!! I’m about to call him back but I see a message from Studio Backpack Boy: “Good morning, thank you so much again for letting me leave my backpack. Have a good job, Adi” “Did you get your backpack back yet?” “yes, thank you again If you happen to be in Naples come to the aquarium, I work as a guide there I’ll gladly give you a guided tour ” “Perfect, see you soon then”.

If I go to Naples, I will go to the aquarium and look for Adi, to take the guided tour and to smile at him and thank him in my heart for making me experience the boundary between sense of reality and prejudice.

Luigia Lazzaro


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Credits by: Ashutosh-Sonwani