Saturday, August 07, 2010

Who Is My Neighbor?

Excuse the detour from my usual travel adventures. First I have to beg forgiveness for 1. being judgmental (I KNOW I have logs in my eye!) and 2. for eavesdropping (which I do with great regularity.) Here's what I heard this morning at my favorite McDonald's.

On one side of the restaurant is a long bench serving three tables. I was sitting at the middle one, reading my library book and savoring my 7 point (Weight Watchers!) breakfast burrito. An older man and woman and their adult daughter sat down at the table to my left. When the father lifted the lid of his coffee, he discovered it was just hot water. He had asked the server to put hot water in his coffee. The employee had minimal English skills and obviously misunderstood. They checked the bill and discovered they had paid 53 cents for the hot water (the same price as a senior coffee). The father was incensed. The daughter went back to the counter and exchanged the water for the requested watered coffee.

Their conversation became more heated as they castigated "these people" who come here but don't speak the language and how they should be required to study English for a year. (For a digression -- yes, classes are available but they are frequently at inconvenient hours or locations for workers who take these kinds of jobs.)

The more they talked, the madder the father became. He announced his intention of going to the counter to complain again. After he left, the mother and daughter both talked about how they didn't want to be there to see it.

When he came back, the subject turned to their Bible study class. They were quite concerned about the proper sequence of creation -- Did God create Adam first, then Eve? Did God create Adam and Eve simultaneously? Did God create other people first but Adam was the first "special" one?

While they were talking, a Latino couple with a beautiful little girl sat down at the table on my right. They were speaking Spanish. The mother said something to the little girl and all three of them folded their hands as the mother said a prayer over their breakfast. Of course, I couldn't understand the words but it obviously was longer than the quickie God is great, God is good.

I know I am called on to love both the family on the left and the family on the right. But if I had to choose a neighbor to live next door -- well, buenos dias, neighbor.

1 comment:

laxmi aruzil said...

What a BRILLIANT story. I know I can't credit you with what happened, but you tell it beautifully.

And aren't people so amazingly funny, providing you with the perfect juxtaposition of bigoted behaviour followed by a discussion of the finer points of Christianity.

Think of what wonderful, loving, fulfilling experiences that man is denying himself through his narrowness of mind. What might he learn from embracing these hard-working immigrants as his brothers? And what a different experience they would have of America, the Land of Opportunity, if it were a place of kind strangers rather than a place of plentiful menial work. But I imagine they find more than enough kindness to overcome the few who are hateful (it's said that hate springs from fear - I wonder what that man is afraid of?).

Oh well, just my two pence. Thanks for sharing the story, Mumsy.