As I trek across from country to country, I gather pieces along the way. Pieces that will help me remember. Pieces that I can give as gifts to others. Pieces that I had brought along and realized I didn’t need any more.
The task of sending these pieces back home made me a tad nervous. Not in the sense of being nervous of letting go but simply because of the language barrier.
I walk into this small and active post office, or as they say here “la poste.” I had been practicing all of the sentences I needed to say to mail my things but as soon I was next in line, it all vanished from my mind.
I stood there with a blank stare as a middle aged woman working there asked me what I needed in French. I thankfully responded with, “Pouvez-vous parler anglais?”
The look in her eyes was identical to mine and she began to mumble and say, “I get help from…” and she pointed to her worker). I’m not sure what was said but the same woman came back and began trying to help me.
We both spoke choppy French and English and used many hand signals. She turned over and said apologetically, “I’m so sorry I don’t know English well. I really am sorry…”
I was so surprised that she was apologizing to me. I quickly responded with, “No, you don’t need to be sorry. I am sorry. I’m in your country and should know your language.” She smiled and had the kindest look in her eyes.
We filled out the blank lines, packaged up last minute items and swiped my card. She smiled and said, “Goodbye and safe trip.” I replied, “Merci.”
I was so thankful for her kindness and openness to work with me. I was thankful that we, using the little knowledge we had of each other’s language, were able to speak to each other. It was a simple and sweet interaction but one I won’t forget.