Sikhi in “Amricaa” ? —- From behind the counter

Living in filth to remove it, not become a part it. It was never my choice to work in a convenience store but that did not stop me from making the most of it. Making the most of it does not always mean making most money; it can also mean earning good deeds.  Until Waheguru Ji blesses me a way out of this store, I will sit here and sing “tera, tera”. This job is an opportunity for me to spread the word on Sikhism, remind people evils of tobacco and alcohol and give a helping hand to those that can’t afford basic necessities.

A simple joke about brain surgery, a bad haircut aimed at the Sikh turban turns into a quick lesson on Sikhism; that leaves the comedian wonderstruck and wanting to know more. Every day I am asked what happened, why did I start wearing a turban, if I have become an extremist? The general public is so confused as to the identity of a Sikh and what they are all about, that it leaves them with negative vibes. It is very simple actually, Sikhs look different than your average person and people don’t know how to react to it, so they react with jokes to hide their discomfort and lack of knowledge. From behind the counter I smile at their jokes and explain to them what Sikhism is all about. It is shocking how many people tell me that they never knew, no one told them or how they wish someone had explained to them earlier. These shocked people are the same people from whom Racism stems, by talking to them; I help crush racism in its roots. I have met a man that once told me, “I hated people like you (people with turbans) but you’re different ….I didn’t know….when are you working again, so I can learn more.”  Education is the key to all problems and I use my job to educate.

To educate not only on Sikhi but to also educate them on the harms of the substances that I am selling them. Yes, I probably shouldn’t be selling it to them in the first place but sometimes, things aren’t always the way we want them. I make the most of my job by educating people on different ways they could quit smoking. I cheer for them when they cut back, I give them encouragement when it gets tough and then I celebrate when they stop all together. I listen to them when they tell me they wish they didn’t smoke; I tell them they can always stop and encourage them. I am not just another face that takes their money and hands them horrible stuff that will cause them harm. I take a bad thing and try to do at least some good.

Goodness is not just helping someone leave a bad habit; it is helping someone when they are down on their luck. I am the first to lend someone a buck when they are down on their luck and get basic things like milk and something to eat. Working at a store isn’t all about money; it’s about seeing the people down on their luck and giving them hope. It’s about looking at that little kid whose mom has money to buy herself a can of beer but can’t afford a 25 cent candy for her kid and having the heart to give the kid a candy or something to make them smile. It’s about reaching out to the kids whose parents spend more money on beer and cigarettes then on the kids and letting them know life doesn’t have to be that way. It’s about caring and believing everyone has the power to rise above this lifestyle we are catering too.

It is one thing to sit on the side lines and hate this profession, it is another to be part of it and rise above it. Let us not judge, someone unless we walked a mile in their shoes. Let us rise above the excuses and the blame game. Instead try to be good Sikhs where ever we are in our lives. It’s never too late or too early. Yes, we should get away from selling these things but sometimes life is such that we can’t, but we shouldn’t let it stop us. Walk the path of Sikhi and Waheguru himself will show you a way out of all the evils.

Don’t mean to defend or offend, I just want people to be more open and help each other be better Sikhs. Make most of what life has given you and use it as tool to become better Sikhs.

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