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Nassar ElGabry in his taxi.

800 Jobs {format} {format} 4:15 Crossing the BLVD

An immigrant lists his many jobs.

Broadcast: Sep 6 2004 on NPR Day to DaySeries: Crossing the BLVD Subjects: Labor

Profile: Nasser ElGabry and his numerous jobs

September 6, 2004 from Day to Day

ALEX CHADWICK, host: A final Labor Day note: Anybody who's ever written a resume knows that finding a job takes perseverance and the ability to handle rejection. As part of the radio documentary series "Crossing the BLVD," producers Judith Sloan and Warren Lehrer bring us the story of Nasser ElGabry and his long journey to find a job that would last.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. NASSER ELGABRY (Cab Driver): I'm just cab driver. I had, like, 800 job. I'm Egyptian-American and African. I work in construction, I work at Burger King and I work in MacDonald's. I tried everything. In 1979 I went to Europe; I was in Germany. I was working--a travel agent, you know, a specialist for the Middle East between Jordan and Cairo in Egypt. And in 1986, Vice President Helmut Kohl--he sign a law to replace all the foreigner in Germany and everybody to go out.

I went back home to Cairo. I love always to be a free bird. We talked, my friends and I, about the United States of America. I'd been told not to come here because it's too far away. The peoples--they were watching, like, "Dallas," the big tall buildings, cold cash. But they never show what is the problems here. The only thing people hears is rich, nothing else, nothing but rich people. I was surprised when I came and see it here.

I went down to Atlanta, Georgia. I work in construction, I work at Burger King, I work in MacDonald's, Taco Bell. I did everything. I had, like, 800 job. I never felt shame. They fire me twice from Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken because I ...(unintelligible) the manager. I understand people, but I ...(unintelligible), you know?

I was helping, too, Halbert(ph). I work for Halbert, electrician and--what else?--foundation lines. I was down in the hole for maybe 20 feet. I work as a trash collector. I did everything. That's what is good about this country. You can do anything, even if you are rich or poor.

I moved around a lot. You know, the funny thing--I went to New Mexico. My cousin and I, we had an interview for dishwasher. The guy--he said to me, `We need somebody got five years experience with washing dishes.' (Laughing) I look at him and I say, `Excuse me?' He said to me, `We need at least five years experience.' I said to him, `OK, no problem. Let me go back to Europe, get experience and come back to you.' (Laughing) That was a surprise to me.

I'm just a cab driver. Sometime you find yourself with a customer that are good to me, and sometime people, like--they want show you how tough they are; don't mess with them. I love this job, and I love to serve the public. And you now what? It's not only about money.

(Soundbite of music)

CHADWICK: Nasser ElGabry's story was brought to us by producers Judith Sloan and Warren Lehrer as part of the "Crossing the BLVD" radio documentary series, with original music by Scott Johnson.

DAY TO DAY is a production of NPR News and I'm Alex Chadwick.