SHAWNEE, Okla. (KFOR) — After serving in the Army for 25 years, Colonel Jeff Madison embarked on a journey to bring Chick-Fil-A to Shawnee.
He asked his family for input on his idea.
“It was actually my oldest daughter, Megan. I said ‘you girls are my advisors, what should I do?’ and Megan said ‘Daddy, you need to open a Chick-Fil-A in Shawnee,'” said Madison.
The long journey would also include his interpreter, Ahmed.
“People were like, ‘How do I pray for you?’ I said ‘well pray that I meet the people I need to meet to do the work that I’ve been called to do’ and Ahmed is a good example of that prayer being answered,” said Madison. “I met him in 2007 back in Iraq. I became his linguist, the relationship between me and him…the bond became just stronger…like brothers.”
Ahmed was Madison’s interpreter in Iraq, and over that time, their bond as brothers solidified.
When Madison finally brought Chick-Fil-A to Shawnee, he knew he had to find a way to bring Ahmed too.
“He had the idea of opening a Chick-Fil-A and I decided that it was time for me to work for him again. I picked up the phone and said, ‘Hey Jeff, can I come work for you?’ And he said ‘I was wondering when you were going to ask me that because I was thinking the same, why are you not here with me?” said Ahmed.
You may be wondering, how does an Iraqi learn English in the late 90s?
“Within the time I built up the English from listening to music and movies,” said Ahmed.
The answer really lies in a bootleg cassette tape Ahmed bought in a music store.
“We went to a music shop and it had cassettes at the time. We didn’t know what to pick. He pointed at one he wanted and I pointed at one I wanted. His pick was Elton John. For mine, I liked the cover of the cassette so I got it. It was Metallica,” said Ahmed. “There are no lyrics written anywhere so I’m trying to learn the words and what James Hetfield is saying. Grabbing my dictionary, and listening and learning and repeating. Hopefully the words are right.”
A cassette tape and t-shirt started a journey that would take Ahmed from Iraq to Oklahoma.
“His nickname was ‘Metalhead’ or ‘Metal’ because he learned his English through listening to American rock music,” said Madison.
“I believe I owe the band a lot for me just going forward. To have a goal in my life, it might seem little, but it’s a lot. It changed my life completely,” said Ahmed.
Ahmed has been working as the Chick-Fil-A kitchen manager since 2017.