by Amber Leja
You know the guy at a parking garage, collecting cash and telling you where to park your car? Seemingly, it could be the same person at each garage you go to, you’re not really paying attention anyhow. That’s generally not the person you’d usually strike-up a conversation with, is it? You hand him your money and move on, and that’s it, you don’t care to know who this person is or what he has to say.
Perhaps he’s the person your gut tells you not to talk to, because after all, you’re in Detroit and he’s a stranger.
I like to spend my Saturdays walking around downtown, just enjoying the city and interesting characters one meets along the way. Last Saturday, my usually parking spot was full and so I drove over to a lot at the corner of Congress and Bates St. After grabbing my sunglasses and making sure I was ready to set off, I realized I had no cash for this “Cash Only Lot.” The owner of the lot, Shakeel Chohan, his name which I later found out, told me “You can go and pay me another time.”
I was shocked — not only did he let me park my car there and pay him upon my return, he didn’t give me the usual run-around another attendant might have. His kindness and trusting nature proved that predetermined judgments are not always correct. So, when I went back I asked him about himself. He spoke broken English, but told me he loved working in the city as he is a big fan of Detroit.
“I see a lot of people here in Detroit working here, some are nice, some are mean. There, mostly, are just a lot of faces,” Chohan said, “Most people, though, don’t usually say hi.” He smiled as he said this and it made me feel good, I couldn’t imagine seeing hundreds of faces every day and only getting a few “hellos.”
Chohan said he was a “big sports guy” and loved when there is a game going on in the city, “I like seeing how people get so excited about the game going on, dressed up, happy people.” He told me he plays cricket with his family almost every weekend and this Saturday he was only in town to cover the shift for a fellow employee who was unable to make it in. “I do what I need to do, to make this business work for everyone,” he explained.
Chohan seemed like a friendly, happy person, who was just excited about working and living in the city. His face could have easily been lost within the crowd of others, if it weren’t for the second look.