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Posts published in May 2009

A smile is the same in any language

By Juanita Wigginton

“A smile is the same in any language.” I do not know the origin of this phrase. My question to the reader is, “Do you believe it?” I did. It was a philosophy I lived. Be friendly and others will be friendly. Lately an incident occurred that has me questioning the validity of such a statement and whether one can truly believe it.

Returning from my weekly Krogering trip I stopped for a red light. From the corner of my eye I caught sight of an elderly mother pushing a cumbersome grocery cart filled with laundry. It was easy to see that the buggy had a mind of its own and was bent on making the mother struggle. I have pushed a few baskets around various markets myself and am all too familiar with the difficulty involved in maneuvering some of them even in the store. I could only imagine what this bent, old woman was going through pushing the cart over cracked sidewalks, pavement and lawns.

I quickly turned the corner to see if I could help. As I stopped the car the basket turned over spilling laundry and nearly bringing the lady down. I rushed to help. The look on that mother’s face when she turned to see me was a blow straight to my heart. It both staggered me and stopped me in my tracks. No one had ever looked at me in that way. Raw fear covered her face. It made me nauseous because I realized she was afraid of me! I tried smiling and telling her I wanted to help but she didn’t speak my language and I did not speak hers. My smiles and gestures were futile.

Like a crazed animal she hurriedly scooped her clothes from the ground and righted the basket. In a flash she was off not looking or caring where she was going. I stood there stunned and helpless watching her. Then I realized she did not intend to stop at the intersection although the light might be against her. “Mother,” I screamed! “Come back! “Wait!” But if my words had been futile before they seemed even more so now. Aldine Mail Route is such a busy road. I held my breath and watched in horror as she pushed the buggy out into the intersection, never looking any direction but straight ahead. She was going to the Laundromat across the street. I have no doubt that God above was looking out for this lady because traffic was lighter than usual and she escaped injury.

With moist eyes and a heavy heart I returned to my car. I realized that if the lady had been hit and killed it would have been as much my fault as the one who hit her. I had only wanted to help and my smile meant nothing to her. So, I wonder, is a smile really the same in every language? Or, should I have minded my own business?

I understand that articles such as this demand a solution but I cannot offer one. I only know that if the opportunity presented itself again I would no doubt react in the same way.