I was walking home from the gas station. I don’t remember what I went there to purchase. Let’s say gum, or an iced tea. I hadn’t even crossed back over the parking lot before a light gold colored car pulled in front of me. A guy about my age poked his head out the window.
“Hey, Pakistan?” he asked, as if Pakistan is my name.
“Pakistan, right? You’re from Pakistan?”
There was no menace or sarcasm in this guy’s voice. He seemed genuinely convinced I was from the Land of the Pure. Straight outta the Gulf of Oman. My reaction was utter confusion; I’m Polish, and I couldn’t look more Polish if I tried. Mashed potato complexion. Relatively shapeless body. A general air that screams, “I have intimate knowledge of Lech Wałęsa and pierogi.”
“Uh, no, I’m from Connecticut.”
“Oh,” the guy responded with disappointment. “You know people from Pakistan, though, right? Like around here?”
I looked off into the distance, squinting. Do I know people from Pakistan around here? Is this code for something?
“I don’t know anyone personally from that area, no, but I think maybe there are some people…”
Silence fell between us. The guy seemed perplexed. I was absolutely perplexed. Eventually he thanked me and drove off.
I’ve considered putting up a sign in the neighborhood, a sign with my picture. “Dear Friend, if you look like this and your country of origin is Pakistan, a nice man in a gold car is searching for you. Text for more info.”