Around noon, Leah calls Jende, saying that he’ll need to drive back to the Lehman Brothers office tower to drop off “an important folder” that Clark left in the backseat and needed for “a three o’clock meeting.” She tells Jende that she’ll meet him downstairs, where Jende is leaning against the car. He’s surprised by her appearance, which he had expected to be “tiny,” given her “high-pitched honeyed voice.” Leah is actually “wide and round.” She reminds him of the people he saw when he landed at Newark International Airport, people who made him wonder if “America was a country of large people.”
When Jende landed at Newark International Airport, he saw how the Americans who were walking around looked very different from those he observed in movies or on TV. He didn’t realize it at the time, but he was getting a glimpse into the country’s obesity problem. Part of his process of assimilating into the country is learning how his expectations about people may contrast with the reality.
Leah asks how Jende likes working for Clark. He says he likes it very much and that Mr. Edwards is a good man. Leah’s been working for Clark for fifteen years, but she says that things have been tense at the company “since the subprime unit fell apart.” She insists that, when it’s time to lay people off, “the little people” will go first, while “Clark and his friends up there” will be fine. She says that one can never trust executives who say that everything will be fine, while they simultaneously hide “a lot of dirty shit.”
Jende’s perception of Clark’s goodness conflicts with Leah’s general perception of men like Clark as dishonest and indifferent to the struggles of those who work for them. She’s giving Jende a brief lesson in the American class system, which can be as exploitative and corrupt as that in Limbe, and equally capable of trapping people into a lifetime of poverty.