I’m torn about (American) football these days. More and more reports of assaults, concussions, arrests. And that's just the offseason in Vegas.
But football to me is like a great hamburger. To create the end-product, some living creatures get beefed up and pummelled. Yet it's what I've grown up with, it's a thing of beauty, and I have a craving for it weekly.
I played football in school, and I've watched it all my life. I now tune-in from abroad. With the time difference, Sunday NFL action, with U.S. commercials, starts early evening and continues late. Living in Sweden, it’s cathartic to sit back and watch six hours of pickup truck ads.
When they take a break from ads and show the game, I fear for the players’ well-being.
But I’m more fearful they'll stop playing. If there were no football, there’s risk I’d arrive to work rested on Monday. With nothing to watch at the sportsbar, I could end up looking too closely at the food I eat there. Worst of all, with no games I may have to talk to relatives on Thanksgiving.
No matter what, you can’t take away my playing days. So whenever someone says to me “what's wrong with you?”, luckily I’ll always be able to explain: “I played football.”
I had a conversation yesterday with a stranger at a shop. A Lebanese guy. We got to chatting about how we ended up in Sweden. I said I moved here with my Swedish wife. He said he paid 10,000 euros for fake papers to enter the country illegally. "That's what everybody does," he explained.
He told me there were two keys to carrying out the crime. The first was not getting duped by the document seller. He knew a family in Lebanon that paid 40,000 euros only to see their papers-dealer run off with the cash. Luckily, he had full faith in his own crook.
The second issue was knowing someone at the airport. "Once you get on the plane, you've made it."
"What about the immigration officers in Sweden?"
"They don't care. They know you're going to stay in the country one way or another. Either as an immigrant or a refugee. They just wave you through."
It wasn't the typical conversation I have at stores. I was surprised how casually a person would talk about such a high-stakes topic that is so politically charged. If I write about someone, I typically ask to snap a photo of him or her for the post. I didn't ask this time. I was worried he'd say yes.
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