He sits near our apartment every day, sometimes with a friend to talk to, sometimes on his own. Our apartment guardian is a young man, probably early twenties.
I was a bit nervous around him at first, not really sure what he thought of us being here. He always responded when I said hi though. I was a little unsure, but my perception of him changed rather abruptly one day.
Michael was at his session, and I was alone at home with the kids. Our morning was interrupted by a knock at the door, and I hurried to open it. It was the guardian. He began trying to explain something, and somehow, I was made to understand that there was some sort of a bill collector there who wanted to see me.
We had just moved in, so I was confused about how we could have a bill already. Turned out it was for the family who had lived here previously, and the company wanted to cut our electricity. Imagine, if you will, how you would feel, if you heard things being said rapidly in another language, missing most of it, unsure if you should go down and talk to this person, or stay up… I was extremely confused, and not sure at all what was going to happen.
What I remember most about that day was this young man, standing on the stairs as a go between for me and the bill collector, motioning for me to stay put. He got on the phone with Michael, who put his language helper on. Our guardian explained the situation more thoroughly to Michael’s helper (in Wolof), who explained to Michael (in French), who explained to me. After I got off the phone with Michael, the guardian asked me if I understood. “They won’t cut it,” he promised, with a reassuring grin.
Since that day, we’ve been getting to know him bit by bit. We know his name, and what he wants to do in the future. The kids greet him, and like to share their candy with him, and he always has a friendly grin for them. He’s a kind, young man, our guardian is.