Monday, August 14, 2017

The Man From Africa

Photo Courtesy
I don't know which African country this twenty-something man was from. For this post, it may not matter. I would have liked to have known, though, to show him respect, and that I cared. 

He was new to the store where I shop. From first glance I'd say he was shy. At second glance, I decided he was being polite to a lady who was talking a lot. You know the polite body language: the smile, the nod, the periodic eye contact while still doing the job. 

I assumed the words he chose to say while working were the suggestions he received in training. Having sat through my fair share of those training sessions, the experience seemed to go that way. 


I decided not to talk on and on about whatever and bore him with chatter about this and that. Good grief, some customers may as well break out the 8-track tapes (now there is an old saying. That was even before my time!!)

When my turn came, this young man did a great job ringing up my order, he smiled, and I said hello. He rang up several items AND THEN said, "So what is your career?"

Wow. That was a question I did not expect. Good grief, I could have given a seminar to answer that question. But. I restrained myself. I simply said, "I am a writer."

That was when the magic happened. He stopped. Looked up at me with eyes that showed he was genuinely intrigued. "What do you write?"

Ugh! My plan! He asked questions that would spark long answers in any writer. BUT. Again I kept to my plan to not talk this man's ears off. I said, "I write mysteries."

Now this would have been a great place for him to end the conversation. He could have thought: well, I asked polite questions. My boss should be happy. I can finish this order then move on to the next.

He instead said more. "Tell my about your most recent book."

Go ahead and laugh. No way could I answer that question in only a few words. I explained the story line in about fifty words. Talk about restraint!! He looked up again and said, "So, where do you get your book ideas from. Dreams?"

Okay. That last question indicated he had heard that answer before. When I said, "No. They don't come from dreams. This particular story involves a physical problem that a family member has and it has a chef. I have a family member who is a chef. Both components could be verified using our own experiences."  He looked surprised, totally expecting the dream answer.

He said, "Do you happen to have that book with you? Could I see the  book?"

What his eyes and words communicated was a genuine respect for the writing career. Maybe once upon a time he wanted to be a writer. Maybe he likes books. Maybe...he  thought writers were people to respect. Whatever... it made me feel good.

What he didn't know was I respected him, too. I have done the work he was doing. I know how hard it is. He did the job well and was genuinely friendly to people. He is an asset to our community and we are blessed to have him.

Now that I think back, this conversation had a lot of great key components. None of them planned. He asked a question, my answer sparked his interest. The answer was not long, just enough to get his interest. He asked more questions. The responses were kept to just what he asked, which resulted in his curiosity to ask more. how we tell people about a living God who loves them. No, the topic this time was not about God, but maybe another time. 

This post has been brought to you by the one word-ShortSimpleToThePoint


quietspirit said...

This is interesting. We never know when we will have a chance meeting with someone who is drawn to our work. This is a nice read.

Mary Vee Writer said...