A Human Connection With A Cashier
--by fsmall52, posted Mar 2, 2015
After he rang up my purchase, I asked, "Is that pronounced Muh-TAH-yeh?"
"Yes!" he exclaimed with apparent delight. "You pronounced it right!" I gathered most people don't. His accent sounded African, though I couldn't be sure.
"That's what it looks like," I replied. "Where are you from?" I asked, smiling. (The smile was important. My question might be interpreted as a challenge or even a threat. I wanted to be sure he understood that my intention was friendly.)
"Ethiopia," he answered.
"How long have you been here?" I asked, still smiling.
"A year," he answered.
"Your English is excellent," I said. He smiled. "Do you miss Ethiopia?"
Between his accent and the noise in the store, I couldn't make out his answer. Another customer was waiting, so I just smiled again, looked him in the eye, and said, "Thanks, Mataye."
It wasn't a big deal, of course. But I had taken the time to treat Mataye like a human being, not just a cashier, which is something I don't always do. I hope he felt a human connection, as I did. I hope this becomes a habit for me.