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Starting points

As I neared the check-out lines, I overheard one of the clerks saying something about Bangladesh to another. When he saw I was ready to be rang up, he quickly scampered over and got into position behind the till.  While he was scanning my purchases I asked, “did I hear you mention Bangladesh?” and he smiled shyly. “Yes Ma’am,” he said, with a heavy Hindi accent.  Smiling, I asked, “And how long has it been since you’ve been there?” His brown eyes, the color of warm honey, glistened “Two years, Ma’am.”

Impulsively, I told him that I was an immigrant once, am a citizen now and that I know what it’s like to be far from home.

Smiling broadly, he told about his Permanent Residence status and, in another two years (I heard yea-uhs), he can apply for citizenship.

“Well, that’s just wonderful; good luck to you” I said, smiling.

He handed me my packages and, grinning broadly, said, “Thank you, Ma’am, Thank you” and with a dip of his head, I knew he wasn’t talking about the purchases I’d just made.

“Maybe you had to leave in order to really miss a place; maybe you had to travel to figure out how beloved your starting point was.”
— Jodi Picoult

Our starting points couldn’t be more different but we enjoyed a kinship in the journey.

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Categories: Friendship, Life, Quotes, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

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36 thoughts on “Starting points

  1. No, it wasn’t about the purchases. Your connection speaks volumes. He’ll remember you the next time you come in, MJ.

    • Thank you, Georgette; I don’t know if he’ll remember me, but I’ll surely remember him.

      “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teaming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

      We are a nation of immigrants, after all!

  2. What a beautiful thing to do! So many people seem to have negative attitudes toward immigrants…I understand all the concern over the illegal situations, but still, these are people! And far from home! Thank you for sharing your story. It speaks volumes about who you are. ~ Sheila

    • I think too many have gone to the “us and them” mentality forgetting that, probably 2 or 3 generations removed, them is us!

      “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teaming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

      We are a nation of immigrants, after all!

      • Yes, I agree…at some point, those powerful words have meaning, or should have meaning, on a person-to-person level. How sad that your attitude isn’t more prevalent!

      • I hope this post inspires any who read it to look closer and consider 🙂 MJ

  3. This just confirms what I already knew without ever having met you, MJ: you’re a sweetie!

    • It felt like the right thing to do and it helped that there wasn’t a line of people behind me. 😉

      “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teaming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

      We are a nation of immigrants, after all!

  4. Being an expat for two years helped me understand what it’s like to be far from home. I LOVE the Picoult quote! It’s really, really powerful–and true!
    Hugs,
    Kathy

    • It is hard to be far from home, where-ever, what-ever that is … and I knew you’d “get” it. Thanks Kathy!

      “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teaming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

      We are a nation of immigrants, after all!

  5. Reading the Picoult quote makes me wonder, did Jesus ever feel homesick for heaven?
    Keep the Faith!

    • That’s a great question, Karin. I don’t know the answer.

      “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of you teaming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

      We are a nation of immigrants, after all!

  6. I’ve been an expat for 4 years and it is so nice to make a connection like that… Immigration is a beautiful thing!

    • It is so nice to make a connection like that and to feel the humanity in the moment 🙂

      “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of you teaming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

      We are a nation of immigrants, after all!

  7. You are a person good in word and deed, MJ. You shared with him, and then you shared with us, and captured a moment we can all remember. As someone living in the land of SB 1070, it’s nice to see a different side of immigration.

    • I understand the reasoning behind SB 1070 but I also know that we are a nation of immigrants. Who wouldn’t want to come here? It’s still the promised land …

      “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teaming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
      …And room for everyone..Living in the promise land.

  8. Excellent. The one thing that we need more of is respect for other’s starting points. There is so much to learn if our minds are open….

    • I couldn’t agree more. In talking with this gentleman, I wondered “who was he there?” Was he a shop owner? An educated man? Does he have a family? What’s his story?

      “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teaming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

      We are a nation of immigrants, after all!

  9. Breaking down boundaries with a smile and a few kind words…how simple and effective 🙂
    *anna

    • A smile and a few kind words goes a long ways doesn’t it? Funny how the gift I could give that cost me nothing seemed to mean so much – Cheers Anna!

      “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teaming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

      We are a nation of immigrants, after all!

  10. I’m sure that he very much appreciated your kind and welcoming attitude. So many would frown on the idea of any more “outsiders” taking up residence in “our” country. Too many forget that this country has long been made up of “outsiders.”

    • Amen Sistah!

      My great grandparents, Israel and Clara, immigrated from Sweden to Minnesota; My Grandmother’s asthma couldn’t tolerate the humidity so they went to Saskatchewan in the great Land Rush – $1 an acre – with 8 children, one of which was my Grandfather Ausser. They homesteaded on the farm that my Dad was born on and where I grew up. In my community were Poles, Czechs, Swedes, Irish, Scotch, English, Germans and more …

      “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teaming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

      We must not forget that we are a nation of immigrants, after all!

  11. This is such a heart-warming story, MJ. Thanks!

  12. How thoughtful you are – but we already knew that. You have a gift for reaching out to people and making them feel ‘seen’ and ‘understood’. I bet you made his day.

    • I learned, too, to never under-estimate the power of reaching out to another and drawing them in.

      “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teaming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

      We are a nation of immigrants, after all!

  13. Very nice post! I agree with the comment or above who said he will for sure remember you.

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  15. Thanks, MJ, for sending me to this post. I treasure the connections I have made with people who have come to the U.S. from other countries. There’s an old poem, “Outwitted,” which you reminded me of in one of your comments. Edwin Markham wrote::
    “He drew a circle that shut me out —
    Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
    But Love and I had the wit to win:
    We drew a circle that took him in.”
    Each time we do that, we make the world a better place. Well done, MJ.

    • Ooh, love that poem, Shirley. Thank you for sharing it … “we drew a circle that took him in.”

      At the end and middle of it all, people just want to belong to someone, yes?
      Cheers!
      MJ

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