I live near and work in Dinkytown, a small neighborhood near the UofM. While mostly populated by college students, it has its fair share of characters, i.e. people who are homeless, crazy, or some interesting combination of the two -- not quite as many as State Street, but still a fair amount. One of these people is an old man named Beraki.
|Beraki can be seen every day at one or more of the many coffee shops in Dinkytown and is widely regarded as a nuicence and a crazy religious dude. From what I've gathered, he is a refugee without any family in the USA. He is disabled and is therefore likely on government support of some kind, leaving him without much to do during the day. The Caribou Coffee where I work is one of the first coffee shops open in the morning, and often he's through the door even before the sun comes up, though he's just as likely to come back in the afternoon too. He reads a math text book sometimes, but most of the time he writes really rambling poetry, reads it out loud or to himself, and prays or recites scriptures. I've noticed he is his most lucid in the morning, and gradually gets more difficult to understand as the day wears on -- especially if he falls asleep at one of the tables in the dining area. Once he went on a belligerent rant about how our coffee was posessed by the devil and refused to drink it even though he'd already paid for it, storming out only to show up again the next day. He has also refused to drink filtered water for the same reason.|
I guess I feel kind of sorry for the guy. When he is lucid, he really is a very sweet -- if odd -- old man. And, being a refugee, I'm sure he's seen more than his fair share of shit in his life. So I'll check up on him a lot while he's in the store, bring him ice water and sometimes listen to what he has to say, but that's about the limit of our employee-customer relationship. Still, he can be a bit difficult to take, especially today when I walked into work, only to be presented with the following two-page poem:
Poetry in Honor of Hal the Café-Caribou Waitress an address at 15th and 4th in Dinkytown USA:
- From Beraki G. Asgedom;
Dear Hal daughter of English Walsh and Scottish
A daughter of Irish and Scandinavian and all Germans
A daughter of the blessed
Natives of America
A man loves you whose roots are also Kush, English, Sabean and Ishmael
A descendant of the Wueen of Sheba and Solomon and all Isreal.
A descendant of the Romans, Greek and Turks and Chinese
a descendant of the Aincent Persia
From the Red Sea of Eritrea; of aincent Habesha and/or Ethiopia,
You are cautious of people's needs
You are a diligent worker and kind.
Café Caribou is the temple of God -- a seat of the Holy Spirit.
Like the beautiful animal Caribou a boat of the Natives in icy lands, you are
Also a delight and, satisfaction that supports me.
Blessed be Minnesota for the workers of Caribou are all my delight
Where I am energized to tackle all evil; such as laziness and evil thoughts,
Discouragement, and negligence to the common good.
Dear Hal you care for me by your encouragment and positive outlook towards me;
You respect me and you are my good wisher;
You are a protector of America by positive reception to all customers
May God bless you.
Café Caribou is my boat to new Jerusalem where I recite Holy Scriptures
Where I compute my mathematics
Where I review science and literature.
Café Caribou is my Harvard, Café Caribou is my University of Minnesota
In function and play. It is where I commune with the divine and the blessed Workers of
Café Caribou and the students of the blessed holy sandtuary the head-quarter of the
University of Minnesota, I mean I am happy with all students or professors of the U of M
Dear Hal you are my reciever in Caribou and in Minnesota. Your name will be
remembered forever. My soul is at rest and blessed in the atmosphere of Caribou.
The greatest joy I have is in Café Caribou.
Beraki is thankful to Café Caribou. All waiters and waitresses of the University of
Minnesota at the head-quarter Café Caribou have become my readers of my own
reflections "Songs of Love and Unity" and/or my reflections known as "My Views".
I am a student and a teacher of the University professors and all students of all the
departments of the University of Minnesota; and my maturity in Minnesota is the
education I always recieve from Dinkytown Coffee houses.
In Café Caribou I recieved even greater understanding of Reality more than I recieved
from Sirach, my monastery spiritual teacher at Indabinna of Eritrea.
Café Caribou is a gathering for the holy University students to do their homeworks
In the interim they tutor me alsol and Hal and all workers of Caribou are my tutors as well.
May God be with Minnesota and United States of America.
Dear Caitlin and Ashley as well as Kim
You are Children of American establishment Jews, Anglo-Saxons and Chinese and Celtic
Your friendship with me is fantastic;
Your Sincerity is genuine you are the light of the world;
And the salt of the earth who spice life at the U of M.
Café Caribou is great for all the waiters and waitresses are a blessing to America
By becoming agents of peace and showing an efficient service and amicable relationship
As well as pleasant disposition that all of you that you manifest.
Beraki honors you and is also grateful for your friendship and pleasant service
May God bless you
Peace be to our Nation America
May God prosper us spiritually and materially.
Anyway, just thought I'd share that.