I was at the grocery store and the Asian couple in front of me spoke to the cashier in broken English. I watched as the gray haired lady said “I pay you with coin?” holding out a pile of coins in her hand. There was something about the way that she held out the money that made me realize that she didn’t fully comprehend American money. She was just handing over a pile and trusting the cashier to give her the correct change. She turned to me and nod smiled, an apology because she and her coins were taking a long time. I smiled back to let her know that I did not mind.
I’ve only visited foreign countries where the primary language is English, but even there I have felt baffled by local customs and currency. As the woman walked away with her husband I realized how brave they both are. I don’t know where they came from, nor what decisions caused them to leave their native home and come here. I do know that everywhere they go, they are different. Every conversation they have is a struggle to be understood. Often they must be met with anger, frustration, and offense from people who are impatient with broken English. Every time they are out in public, they are vulnerable, easily picked on, easily taken advantage of. Yet the woman smiled. She was friendly, even in her slight confusions over words and coins.
Courage comes in many forms. I saw bravery today and I should pause to recognize it.
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