Wednesday, September 30, 2009

At the Checkout

I shop at Winco, which is a veritable United Nations. I love to see all the different styles of dress and hear the accents. Sometimes I'm just dying of curiosity to know the stories of the people around me, and how they see America. I also love to read all about different cultures and current events. Some of the stories I read break my heart, and I wish that everyone could live in a place with as much order, justice and equity as we do. Our country isn't perfect, but as I look into the faces of handsome young men that were fighting in Bosnia, or what look to have been lost boys in Africa, I'm SO GLAD THEY'RE HERE!
I was unloading my cart yesterday, when I noticed three very tall African men behind me. I heard them speaking in their native tongue and I tried to imagine the events they've seen. One of the men was quite imposing, and I remembered reading this article. I found it so sickening, and I wondered if any of the men behind me had ever raped anyone. I glanced up and my eyes locked with the mountain of a man behind me. His face was devoid of expression, but his eyes looked straight through me. I supressed a shudder and flushed, certain that he knew exactly what I was thinking. I felt terrible.
Who am I to judge anyone when I've never missed a meal or had to really fear for my life? A drug-addled thief at my door doesn't count.
I was pondering this when I noticed the woman beside me loading her groceries. She was from Africa too. I discreetly peeked at her face and saw the pinpoint scars that swirled decoratively on her forehead and cheek bones. She had a large scar slashing down her jaw. I was certain there was a long and painful story there. My self disgust was still fresh in my mind, and I decided to do something about it. I looked at her, smiled, and said "Hello!". She was startled and looked around, unsure if I meant her. She saw my smile, and I could see the thoughts forming in her mind. It went something like this: "Oh my gosh, she's talking to me. What do I say? What was that phrase again?" I repeated my greeting, and and asked "How are you doing?" I remembered how scary it is to try to form words and sentences in a foreign language, regardless of the goodwill of both. Her face lit up like a Christmas tree, and she proudly said, "Hello! How you doing!" She'd bagged her few items and turned to leave, and I wished her a good day. We both grinned at each other, and I left the store feeling light as air.

1 comment:

Sleepless In St. George said...

I have had similiar experiences...but with polygamists here! Oh and I LOVE Winco and totally miss is....since obviously the name of the store doesn't include the U for Utah!