I was very grateful for Farid, the doorkeeper. Twice he was rudely interrupted from a perfectly good night’s sleep in order to help me, once at my arriving, and once at my leaving.
As I was leaving, at 1:30 AM, I pressed the button to open the gate to let me out of St. George’s. I didn’t know this, but that alerted Farid, who opened his door immediately.
I went and sat on the edge of Farid’s bed, as he yawned and tried to wake up enough, and stay awake enough, to stay with me until my taxi arrived, in about 15 minutes. After a few moments, he switched on the TV. It was in Arabic. I wished that I knew Arabic. I asked Farid about his work there. ‘It’s been very bad since the Intifada’, he answered. Going home now required his going through so many checkpoints and such that he now works a 15-day shift there. 15 days on, 15 off. It would be impossible to go home every day or even every week.
‘What religion are you?’ I asked. ‘Roman Catholic’, he answered. Oh! So I told him that Tommy and Georgia had become Catholics, this last Easter. ‘But I couldn’t follow them,’ I said. ‘ Why?’ he asked, genuinely surprised. ‘I’m just stuck in my ways, I guess, and anyway I’m not pleased with the way they treat women.’
‘Women priests?’ he asked. ‘Well, yes, that, among other things,’ I answered. He made a face, and drew a large circle over his stomach: ‘When a woman is with a baby? Up there being a priest?’ He couldn’t approve of that.
‘Maybe when they are older, past child-bearing years.’ he said.