Miles Evaporate with Single Gesture

Last week the world became a bit smaller for one man.

Finding myself  on the dialing end of a call to a towing service, I needed help. The voice on the other end assured me a driver would arrive shortly.

Packing our mountain bikes back into our wounded truck, my son and I climbed into the cab and waited.

With the sunlight giving way to darkness  a large rollback arrived as promised. A young man jumped from the cab, quickly apologizing for being a few minutes late and immediately went to work.

Dressed in neat, dark blue uniform and clean-shaven, he politely gathered information about the broken down truck.

“I’ll have us on the road in a few minutes, sir,” he said.

Crawling beneath our disabled truck with only his cell phone’s light the darkness, he worked quickly.

And here is where life began to unveil the wonder of chance meetings.

As the three of us – the driver, my son, and myself – traveled along the 17-mile trip, a cell phone began ringing inside the cab of the truck.

“Excuse me,” said the driver. “I apologize but I need to take this call.”

Answering, his language seamlessly shifted from English to another. In the small cab his words easily drifted across to where my son and I rode. The words, however, were unusual to my ear.

Moments later, ending his call, he again apologized.

“So,” I said, “Do you live nearby?”

The driver explained he and his wife and daughter lived a few minutes up the road.

“I moved here three years ago,” he said. “From Cairo,” he said. “Egypt, that is.”

“Really?” I said. “Welcome.”

Turning to face me, he offered a smile.

He explained after the revolution in his homeland – with bombs going off every other day – Cairo was no longer a place to live and raise a family. His moving to the US, however, meant leaving his father and mother 7,000 miles behind

“I miss them greatly,” he said.

But like anyone in the world, we began talking about what we love the most: our families. He shared how he and wife bring their daughter down to Gulf waters to splash and play – his pride suddenly washing across any sadness existing from before. His life – and his future of opportunities to support his family – was here, he said.

Minutes later we pulled to a stop in front of where my family and dreams reside. Although born half the globe apart, if not for the originating information on our passports or language, we could be brothers.

Carefully unloading the broken down truck alongside the curb, the driver walked over and thanked us for our business. It was then the world drew unexpectedly smaller.

Extending his hand, the driver and I exchanged thanks in English. Turning to my son, the driver said the same. My son, however, replied in Arabic – the home language of the driver.

In the absence of light, the driver’s face lit up with warmth, surprise, and thankfulness. Here, in his adopted homeland, someone took the time to go beyond the simple rote processes – and speak to him in his native language. The emotion of the moment was powerful to both he and my son.

Unbeknownst and imperceptible to my neighbors, something changed in the world that night. With a simple act of kindness – a simple offering of thanks in a different language – the world became a little bit smaller.

And a man and his family, he suddenly felt a little closer to home.

 – 30 –

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