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Man Makes it to Middle Class Without Obama

by Keith Koffler on September 17, 2013, 10:37 am

My washing machine was broken last week, and Ibrahim came to fix it.

Ibrahim – I’ve changed his name – was the second guy on the job. The first changed the valves and made me buy new hoses, but that wasn’t the problem. After the first guy came back a second time, he pronounced me “good to go,” even though the thing was still broken. He refused to wait around to let the cycle run a bit so he could correctly diagnose the problem.

But Ibrahim took the time, and figured out the problem was the timer, not the valves. A week later he returned with a new timer, and installed it. And then we had to wait through part of the cycle to make sure the washer was working. And so we got to talking.

Ibrahim, a clean shaven young man with ruddy brown skin, jet black hair and wearing clothes a little nicer than you’d expect the repairman to be wearing, told me he had come to this country from Pakistan about three years ago. He spoke English, but, as he still does, with a pretty thick accent and a penchant for reordering words and using some of them incorrectly. He can be a little hard to understand, but mostly you get what he’s saying.

When he arrived here in the Washington area, he told me, he was completely alone and didn’t know which bus was headed north and which headed south. He had no college education, his knowledge limited to whatever it is they teach you in high school in Pakistan. He didn’t have much money.

First he tried one menial job, I forget exactly what it was. He said they were paying in $210 a week as a “trainee.” Dead end. Then he picked up a job at Walmart, stacking shelves. That didn’t seem to have much of a future for him either.

Finally, networking through the immigrant community, he spoke to someone who was making a decent living fixing appliances. He was able to hook up with the owner of an appliance repair company, who told him he could train at his place of business while taking classes at night to get an appliance repair certificate. All told, Ibrahim said, he was working seven days a week and taking classes weekdays from 6-9 pm after working from 8 am until 5 pm.

After a year, he got a certificate, and with that a position with the company as a repairman. Married now with a baby girl, he and his family are already living a comfortable life, he said. Meanwhile, he’s sending money home to support his retired parents, siblings and even a nephew or two. He recently gave his nephew $6,000 so he could attend graduate school in Europe.

I noted to him all the social welfare programs that he avoided, mentioning things like Food Stamps – at which point he interrupted me.

“If I take Food Stamps, then I am like a beggar!”

Really? Would any America say such a thing? Imagine saying that in polite society.

But that’s the attitude that ensured that Ibrahim, without any of the benefits of being raised in this country, came here and within three years had found what President Obama likes to call “a better bargain” for himself. Even while Republicans are “holding the middle class hostage,” as Obama likes to say, Ibrahim found his way into it.

And, somehow, he did it without Obama’s help. And me, I pay Ibrahim not with my taxes, but with my own hard earned money for his excellent work.

The washing machine is running great. I thanked Ibrahim and even tipped him. I was glad to do it, and he accepted the money. Which surprised me, because the first time he was here, he had refused my offer of a tip. But then I realized, the washing machine at that point wasn’t fixed yet.

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Bonnie September 17, 2013 at 10:51 am

What an uplifting read! Loved this story!

Sadie September 17, 2013 at 1:01 pm

What Bonnie said.

A.J. September 17, 2013 at 11:04 am

Wouldn’t you know it would take a Pakistani to understand the American Dream!!!

veritaseequitas September 17, 2013 at 11:08 am

Good for him. Now I wonder? Can he, or any of us, stay in the middle class, while Obama and his harebrained schemes for “leveling the playing field,” and making things “more fair,” are at the helm of our fair country? Something tells me NOT.

CiscoKid September 17, 2013 at 11:16 am

What Obama wants is equal results for unequal effort.
Welcome to America ” Ibrahim “, may you continue to enjoyed the fruits of your labor. Peace and prosperity for you and your family.

Scottso September 17, 2013 at 11:11 am

Keith, it’s so sad that we actually have to tell stories about people who make it on their own and don’t want government (aka other people’s) support!

I hope he charged you sales tax and that the total charge and the tip he received would be noted on the company’s revenues and on his individual 1099 form respectively.

Because how would society function if he charged you off-the-books and you paid him off-the-books?
Yes, i’m kidding.

The reason why people work off the books and customers pay in cash in order to save on taxes is because taxes hurt businesses. Period.

Mandy Manners September 17, 2013 at 11:18 am

“The reason why people work off the books and customers pay in cash in order to save on taxes is because taxes hurt businesses. Period.”

Many dead-beat parents work under the table to keep from having their wages garnished for child support.

Scottso September 17, 2013 at 11:37 am

That is very true too. I’m sure they are other ‘not-so-valid’ reasons to keep your true income hidden.

If everyone had to pay their true revenues, without hiding $ then we would never have to increase taxes on anyone.

What the President and his goons don’t get is that it’s not about paying your “fair share” (that’s a relative and stupid way to approach anything), but paying your correct share.

Let’s face it, I can guarantee almost everyone in our governemnt does not report their real incomes or gifts.
And they get away with it for the most part.
How else to explain how they all keep getting wealthier and wealthier with their ‘salaries’.

DeniseVB September 17, 2013 at 11:48 am

That’s why I support the Fair Tax, paying taxes only on what you spend, not what you earn. It also eliminates the IRS :D

Scottso September 17, 2013 at 12:43 pm

and there is also the incentive to pay since the risk for not paying would be greater than avoiding the tax.

it would eliminate most corp. subsidies and runarounds as well.

However, the accounting and legal industry will fight a flat tax.

Bonnie September 17, 2013 at 1:34 pm

No one would fight it harder than the corrupt IRS. Can you imagine all of those auditors and tax accountants without their accountability jobs.

Star September 17, 2013 at 11:12 am

There are many more–including people who were born citizens–like this man. Certainly admirable. But I am not sure of the point of this–immigrants as a group are harder working, more honest? Don’t get it.

AFVet September 17, 2013 at 11:39 am

Because they are coming from a place where they do not have the opportunity they have here.

Jojo September 17, 2013 at 11:51 am

Because he came here not expecting a hand out or to be taken care of off the government titt and so many “citizens” today think they have a God given right to stuff. It is refreshing.

Star September 17, 2013 at 12:56 pm

I have hired plenty of landscapers who dogged it, did not go the extra anything, and tried to get a ridiculously high price—”How about two hundred?” I say, “Usually it’s $50.” OK–$50. I think there are good workers and honest people citizen and non-citizen. Sometimes, I guess, coming from another country seems like an opportunity to get over on Americans. It takes all kinds.

Keith Koffler September 17, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Star, the point was not about immigrants being better people.

Star September 18, 2013 at 11:53 am

But that did seem to be the gist–harder working, more grateful, grittier.

Geoff Caldwell September 17, 2013 at 11:13 am

He must be one of those Tea Party anarchists that Harry Reid railed against last week. How dare he realize the American dream the “old fashioned” way: honesty, respectability, long hours and hard work.

That’s just too much to expect from the ADD American of today.

Thanks for posting Keith. If the MSM spent more time repeating Ibrahim’s story than Obama’s talking points, we’d be out of this economic mess w/in a year.

Dean September 17, 2013 at 11:15 am

I have a question. How will Obama say “you didn’t build that” to this guy?

Geoff Caldwell September 17, 2013 at 11:17 am

I’m sure at some point he’s used “public” transportation. In Obamaworld that’s enough to make you beholden to government for life.

Jojo September 17, 2013 at 11:54 am

Yep, never mind that everyone else has the same access and ability to do something with themselves… It was all due to the government that he succeeded, nothing to do with his personal initiative. Or so they would have all those “poor” souls who have chosen to sit on their arse believe… makes a GREAT excuse!

lc southern September 17, 2013 at 11:26 am

Thank you for a success story!

AFVet September 17, 2013 at 11:36 am

Great story Keith.
That’s the kind of attitude that built this Country.

srdem65 September 17, 2013 at 12:23 pm

A nice, incredible feel-good story about an immigrant who makes good in America in three years.
The man enters the US on a work/student(?) visa (or illegally), has no skills, no education, and no means of supporting himself, but luckily finds his way to the DC area where he is mentored by his former countrymen who encourage him to learn to repair washing machines. He, or someone other than the government, provides enough money (@$3,000) to pay for a year’s schooling at a local trade school and he becomes a certified home appliance repairman.

The washing machine repair business is so lucrative, he is able to support a family in DC. Living expenses in DC are so minimal he has enough disposable income to support his family both here and back in his homeland, plus give $6,000 to help another family member with school expenses.
Yes, an incredible feel-good immigrant story.

Star September 17, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Many groups of immigrants have insular financial hands-up type organizations–private lending, etc, networking. One kind is cundinas…a type of group savings plan.

These are groups of 10 or so family members, friends or colleagues who contribute a set amount of money each week, say $100 for 10 weeks. Each week, one member gets $1000.

When I first blogged on these–my mother’s Filipino caregiver said the Filipinos in this area have a similar arrangement.

Star September 17, 2013 at 1:09 pm

I will say, though, that some immigrants spend thousands to learn English well–I have a friend who teaches English to adults in a private school–very complicated and they insist on impeccable usage.

AFVet September 17, 2013 at 1:14 pm

This country is in dire need of tradesmen.
Welders, masons, auto mechanics, appliance repairmen, etc.
There is nothing wrong with having the skills and the ability to repair the pipes in your house.
A college education is great if you can find a job that will pay off the debt you incurred to achieve it in a reasonable amount of the time you have left in your life.

Robin H September 17, 2013 at 9:24 pm

We’ve gutted so many of the vo-tech schools by telling every child that they can and should get a college degree. It’s really a shame that it’s not PC to tell some kids that they may not be cut out for college and they should learn a trade. And it has nothing to do with race or gender.

AFVet September 17, 2013 at 1:20 pm

I see your sarc srdem65.

Star September 17, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Yes, noted, SrDem. Esp the part about having money left over from DC’s low cost of living.

Keith Koffler September 17, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Ye of little faith, Srdem. I gather you either think I made it up or, more likely, you think that I got fooled. The former’s not the case, of course. As to the latter, I do have some awareness of what he makes and what the expenses are in the DC suburbs and the outer suburbs, where he lives. Both times he was at my house working, it was Sunday. I think his story is very credible, not incredible.

Star September 18, 2013 at 12:02 pm

I buy it as an anecdote. I have anecdotes pro and con, too. I think people coming here tend to extend a hand up within their groups, as your repairman indicated. As for DC being affordable–I know I can’t ever return moneywise.

William in CA September 17, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Good to see a story like that. Just don’t let anyone tell Obama, he’ll tell the guy “you didn’t (re)build that washing machine, someone else made that happen”

Susan September 17, 2013 at 1:09 pm

That is an inspirational success story, Keith. Just proof positive the American dream is still alive if you’re willing to work for it. Too bad work has become a four letter curse word for too many Americans who prefer to become wards of the state rather than take the responsibility of making it or failing on their own.

Star September 17, 2013 at 1:44 pm

I am not so sure being willing to work for it is the whole answer. My kid is limited in hours in her fast food job. If she gets another job, the hour limits may still apply. She could get a second job–but with no car, that is difficult (two walking dist places?). This whole thing is sagging–it isn’t just lazy old Americans.

Susan September 17, 2013 at 2:17 pm

I didn’t aim my comment at anyone in particular, Star. When there are more than 47 million Americans on food stamps and at least 14 million of them have Obamaphones, there are more lazy bums out there than there are good people like you and your daughter.

Star September 17, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Not to be an opposite sayer–but those numbers don’t support the lazy bum stats…Three hundred what fifteen million–say half children…(not sure on that)…That would be one-third on stamps, many of whom need to be. Yet, fewer people are working than ever before–percentagewise–because they can’t get jobs not because it’s so easy to live on the state–welfare in AZ is $90 a mo. I am sick of reading how lazy Americans are and what paragons immigrants are. It is not that simple. (I knew you did not mean my kid or me–but we did have a $10 phone subsidy for a while, then they said SS was so generous I no longer would get it. In the worst of it a few yrs ago, we also had stamps–there was a huge amt to do to qualify–copy back tax statements, copy bank records, a long form. It was not easy. It was not llike popping Tic-Tacs. When my daughter got the Wendy’s job we did not renew, even if we could have.)

Aileen September 17, 2013 at 3:11 pm

In my personal experience…it is wise to question the life stories of people who come to the US from Pakistan or India or Bangladesh, etc…the culture of origin for these people embraces lying as an art. I am reminded of the phrase “they would lie when it was easier to tell the truth.
I hope your machine continues to work, Keith.
I, too, am sick of reading about lazy Americans vs. not so lazy immigrants. I know plenty of hard working Americans – US citizens from birth -who are doing all they can to hang on to the economic status they currently possess. They aren’t newsworthy to the MSM…but their stories embody determination and persistence and resolve – and they matter to me.
And Star…may God bless you for never giving up. I mean it – I pray God will bless you in a way you never dreamed possible.

Star September 17, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Thanks, Aileen. I watched the movie THE SESSIONS last nite and the guy lived his life in an iron lung. I had polio when I was 4–and was left OK from it. I could have been in that box…gives you pause to be grateful. Obama and his antics become a side issue.

Susan September 17, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Don’t matter what color, heritage, legal status, or country of origin, there are lazy bums in America who would rather live off of others than work for a living. America has already tried communism and it didn’t work. The Pilgrims almost starved to death as a result. William Bradford’s diaries tell the story.

Star September 17, 2013 at 4:25 pm

I still don’t believe the LBs outnumber the beleaguered working types. You could be right… when the money runs out, everyone will be scrambling.

AFVet September 17, 2013 at 6:04 pm

That is a very wise and astute comment Susan.
The Pilgrims tried communism and they learned that it doesn’t work.
History is a great teacher, it should be listened to.

Al47 September 17, 2013 at 1:10 pm

I enjoyed reading this very much. While we have a population of “beggars” who refuse to work hard, many of those who come to this country in search of a better future find a way to improve their lives. I see the many unemployed in the Fresno area who will not work picking fruit at $10 an hour. Too hot!! Too much work!! Leave it to those who come from Mexico while they collect welfare, food coupons, etc.

Corey September 17, 2013 at 1:18 pm


swedishlady September 17, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Great story about a great guy. I believe that many ambitious persons want to go to the US, still regarded as the country were you can start all over and build a new and better future. It´s probably not so wise to weaken their ambitions by letting them be part of a generous welfare system right from the beginning as many European countries do ( mine ). Then the suspicion lingers that they come because of the easy money and that may wear out the welcome.

David September 17, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Keith- the story is obviously a lie- that could not happen in America. Since 2009, it is a known fact that people can not lift themselves up without the governments help. The training class that Ibraham took had to be sponsored by the government…….

cindy lu September 17, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Great story

Isn’t it obscene that saying ‘i am not a beggar’ is akin to a curse ?

How times have changed

Margaret September 17, 2013 at 4:16 pm

God bless America. And God bless Ibrahim.

His story gives me hope.

Scott September 17, 2013 at 4:35 pm

That is a GREAT story. I’m going to print it for my kids to read.

John September 17, 2013 at 4:58 pm

A poll by Farleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey showed that of all the news channels out there, Fox News viewers are the least informed.

Star September 17, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Fairleigh–I learned that on Fox!

Star September 17, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Most of us did well on this one:‎Cached

Pls report back with your score. LOL.

Mike September 18, 2013 at 5:33 am

84.665871% of all statistics on the Internet are made up on the spot.

Star September 17, 2013 at 5:27 pm
Star September 17, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Also–why come to a site new to you and try to be insulting and snide? What do you get out of it?

srdem65 September 17, 2013 at 6:52 pm

It’s a diversion tactic; if there is somethings being said that isn’t positive or complimentary about the Obama WhiteHouse, then insults or comparisons to GWBush are used.
For instance, If you read the comment sections of any piece, you’ll see that the first commenters use this diversion tactic to discourage others from commenting with insults and dozens of linked on posts.
No one likes to be insulted, or have to defend their personal opinion so it works sometimes.
Whomever “john” is, his goal is to taunt someone to respond to give him a chance to add more insults.

Star September 18, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Oh, probably–but sometimes it amuses me to respond. Grim amusement.

da_truth36 September 17, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Hate to be Debbie Downer, but the first chance he gets Ibrahim the friendly and independent washing machine repairman will probably slaughter you and your family in the name of Allah. Don’t go union, but hire the local guy that doesn’t send a majority of his wages out of country.

Jennifer Goltman September 20, 2013 at 4:01 pm

They are holding the middle-class hostage because they don’t want Obama to touch it. Obama is just mad he can’t “work his magic” on the middle-class; he wants to make it look like Chicago… and Detroit… and Trayvon…. and this beautiful piece of work:

Therefore, the GOP has declared the middle-class “off-limits” to Obama. This make Obama angry, jealous, and sad.

Joel September 20, 2013 at 11:35 pm

Question: How did he get a visa to enter the USA? I mean, it’s a great success story, but there are people, highly educated people waiting in line. And there are highly skilled people being sponsored by companies. Perhaps Ibrahim did get some help from 0bama.. via some immigration program?

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