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World FlagsForeign accents invite questions.

What events brought you here? Are you a resident of America, on a business trip, or just on vacation?
What is your occupation? How many family members do you have, and are they with you? If you are here as a permanent resident, what do you miss about your homeland?

Bev and I were in a hotel in Berkeley, California enjoying a little R & R. While Bev was getting ready for the day, I headed down to the restaurant for my morning coffee and daily news. As I was about to press the down button on the elevator a lady walked up.

“Good morning,” she said with full smile.

After exchanging pleasantries I asked the question. “Where is your lovely accent from.”

“West Africa.”

“What country,” I enquired further.

“Nigeria,” she said. “The famous Nigeria,” probably referring to the political unrest there.

The elevator ride was too short. There was no time to ask other questions so we finished up with chit-chat. I told her about my need for coffee and that my wife was joining me in a moment.

She told me that she is now from Alabama. “California is very beautiful,” she said.

“My name is Bruce, what’s yours?” I asked.

“Nonye.”

We walked up to the hostess at the restaurant. “Table for two?” We were standing together, talking, so it was a logical question. We told her we were not together, so she led Nonye to her own table. Thus ended a nice beginning to my morning.

After I was seated it struck me how kindly and non-judgmentally the hostess asked, “Table for two?”

In that simple question, “Table for two?” I got to experience humanity at its best. Nonye and I were simply two people to the hostess.

We were not Caucasian and African, male and female, West African and American. For all the hostess knew, we were long-lost friends or husband and wife.

The hostess extended her welcome based only on the knowledge that we were two human beings talking to each other. That, to me, is a good place to begin.