“‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them.”
Yesterday I did some shopping. Shopping. Such an innocuous word that definitely does not fully convey the gravity of the task set before me. I was looking for a specific face wash, contact solution and a pillow.
Stop one was Watson’s. Picture CVS or Walgreen’s minus the medicine. I was quite pleased with the vast selection and even more excited to see they had Cetaphil (my face wash) and it was on sale on the big display! The shopping was going so well! And then I get to the register. The cashier begins to gesture at me and then a college in student in line behind us explains that to get the discount price I need a card. But I can’t figure out how to get the card. Next the manager comes out (who speaks a little English) and tries to help. With around three employees and a customer’s help I manage to get the card
Next stop, contact solution at the supermarket. Picture a store kind of like super Wal-Mart, or Super Target or Meijer. As soon as I enter the section where contact solution might be several employees eagerly greet me. Cue the game of charades as I attempt to signal what contact solution is. (I learned during training I’m not particularly good at charades in general.) After poking at my eye for a little bit I’m brought some night time eye cream, as well as some fake eyelashes. Then I see a couple American girls. They are pretty sure they don’t sell contact solution here. (And I actually did easily obtain it today at the eyeglass store with minimal charades.)
Finally, I head to bedding. Either I’ve improved at charades or the pillow is just much clearer, but once again an eager employee shows me various pillows and I find one.
What did I learn from these exchanges? Other than the obvious: I need to learn some Chinese. I thought what would have happened to the Chinese person who speaks no English at home as they wander through a store? How would I have treated them? How do I treat the stranger, the foreigner in my midst? And I was humbled by the kindness shown to this clueless foreigner. And I was convicted realizing that I often had missed opportunities to show this same hospitality and grace to others.
So, how do you treat the foreigner in your land?