The Saxophone Guy

I remember the time when I first lived in San Francisco. It was in January 2012 that I first moved here to do an internship at ContextLogic (now known as Wish). I was living at the Park Hotel and, at the time, I was going through some emotional and spiritual turbulence.

The Park Hotel was in the middle of the financial district, and for a $1000/month it was a really good deal. Work was 10 minutes away and I was in the heart of the city. Despite the great price and location though, there was one thing about the place that I hated, and that was “the saxophone guy”.

The Saxophone guy is an Asian man who would stand a couple of corners away from the hotel, and for years since then I only heard him play one song: The God Father Song. I know nothing about the movie, but what I do know is that this song is depressing. It was especially depressing given the turbulence I had been going through at the time.

For years I kept hearing him in different parts of the city, and every time I encounter him I start thinking to myself “يا دين أمي”.

Last Thursday though, I had just come back from NYC and met up with Omar Fahmy for dinner. And, guess what? There was the saxophone guy. Omar knew the story and this time around he insisted that we go talk to him. I really disliked the guy’s music, and very reluctantly went with Omar to him to say hi – after five years of hearing him around the street.

And what was the result? It was so rewarding! The guy turned out to be from Shanghai and we had a good exchange in Mandarin. Omar told him that I’ve been hearing him around the city for years, and fortunately he didn’t tell him about the part where I disliked it.

Anyways, we ended up shooting a video of all of us together and with him playing a “special” song for us. This was the first time I ever saw him playing a song other than the Godfather.

My feelings toward him have completely changed. I now look for the saxophone guy on the street, and I do see him I’ll be sure to say hi. We’ve developed a connection!

As silly as this story may seem, this was a gentle reminder for me. Sometimes confronting the little things that annoy can feel so rewarding, and this was a clear example of that.

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