Kevin McCloskey

Ageless
Professor. Kutztown U.
Author/illustrator,
Bike rider
AKA "Patt's husband"

Fuseni and the Photocopy, A Ghana Sketch, July 2001-

Fuseni called me "Mr. Kevin." So I called him "Mr. Fuseni." He got very agitated, told me he would get in big trouble if Sam, the bus driver, heard me call him "Mister". I drew his picture in my sketchbook on the beach. I wanted to make a copy for him when we went into town. The bus stopped at a "4-X," or foreign exchange. I had enough cash so I went looking to make a copy...

First I saw a shop with a sign: COMPUTERS. I walked over to find a single disassembled computer and many retread tires for sale. I asked a man if he made copies. He pointed down the street and said, "Theresa makes copies." I saw the name Theresa painted above an open door. I walked quickly past a woman selling sodas on the street and through that door. Stepping out of the tropical sunlight my eyes took a moment to adjust. I was alone in a home, a living room. The soda woman came in after me. She was a middle aged woman, her hair combed back, wearing a cotton dress and flip-flops. Clearly, I was in her house. She was Theresa.

"I apologize for my rudeness," I said. "I thought this was a shop, I should step outside and ask permission to enter." She listened, smiled at my formal apology, and told me to stay and state my business. I told her I wanted a photocopy. She pointed me toward a side room. I entered to find a small neatly made bed and a large Canon copier. It looked like the same model my university department uses. I handed her my sketchbook. Whirrr. Flash Whirrr. She handed me the photocopy for inspection.

"Great. How much do I owe you?" Of course, I should have asked sooner.
"700."
Fair enough, 7000 cedis = $1, Ten cents. I pulled out a 5000 cedi note. She told me she had no change. I hesitated for only a moment before telling her to keep the change. She shook her head no. It was too much. I searched my many pockets.

"Take the picture, maybe another day you come back," she said.
I told her it was very unlikely I would be there again and that I was giving the the picture to Fuseni. She smiled and said, "Good, it is my gift, Good-bye."

Back on the street, I found the bus. That was good. The money-changing was still going on. Out of nowhere, a beggar leaned into me. He was nearly blind. I remembered my beggar's stash, a 1000 cedi note in my bag's outer pocket. I excused myself from the beggar and I ran back to Theresa's. She was standing behind her wooden soda stall. I handed her the 1000. She still couldn't change that. I asked her to please accept the small "dash" as a gift. She accepted with a smile.

I tell this story not simply to point out how polite I can be in the tropics. Theresa's kindness demonstrates how very generous poor people can be to rich people, given the opportunity.