Trekking a few miles out of Stephenville along Highway 67 will bring you to the door of the Country Store. The shop belongs to Jay Siraj who hails from Bangladesh. His business is a bustling combination of convenience store and gas station, and his counters boast everything from earrings to a Michael Jackson embossed wallet.
Siraj estimates he serves between 100-150 customers on a daily basis. His best selling items are lottery tickets, cigarettes and soft drinks. Between bouts of tending to patrons, he managed to share his philosophy of life with the E-T and what makes America so special.
Question: When did you come to the States? What drew you here?
Answer: "I came here in 2001because here is a better life. In my country there are many problems. You don't have opportunities like we have here. I did not want to raise a family in Bangladesh.
"I like America and I stay here because I have a son. Here he has an opportunity to get a good education and build his life, too. I miss my family in Bangladesh, but I have my wife and son here, and they are my family."
Question: You seem to have a good rapport with your customers. You ask about their families and work as you check them out. You even speak Spanish to your hispanic patrons.
Answer: "I like to talk to people, and I want to know their situation. This is the best place to get to know people.
"Sometimes I have people tell me they are tired and don't want to go to work. But when they leave, they tell me they feel better. When I talk with people, it makes me feel better. I don't know if it's good or bad, but I want to know about people. And I have the time to talk with them."
Question: What is something people might not know about you?
Answer: "I like to garden. Bangladesh is an agricultural country. So I know how to make a garden. I came here and had an opportunity behind the store and my home with lots of area. I grow green peppers, egg plants, okra, spinach and an Indian vegetable. I brought the seeds from Bangladesh.
"I like fresh food, and my wife is a very good cook. I love her food."