Blank faces stared at each other in the small, blue office, not knowing what to say or how to express themselves. The faces were elderly, kind... the women were all staring down at their multi-lingual crossword puzzles while the men continuously looked down at their watches. I sat in the midst of it all, youngest by about fifty years next to my own mother, a clear oddball out of them all. Her elegant face made me sorry for her. I knew she longed to meet someone. She kept that from me. But I knew it strained her, for her language skills were as poor as everyone else's there. Suddenly, one of the old women reached into her black purse. She bent over to the floor to pick it up and place it in her lap. I saw the corners of her mouth curve into a smile. It was when I saw her face light up- like a five year old boy being given a brand new monster truck- that I knew she'd found what she was looking for. From her wrinkled purse she pulled out a black object. At this point, everyone stared. The woman still didn't notice. When I saw what it was, I snorted. My mother shot me a dirty look, and I clasped my hand over my mouth. The woman had pulled out a radio; a big, old fashioned one that looked as if it were made in the forties. She hastily turned it on and we heard the different radio stations as she skipped through each one. Finally, she looked up, smiling into the faces of those surrounding her. After about a minute of listening to the low, pleasant melody, I noticed people beginning to smile. This was a tune everybody seemed to know. They began nodding their heads at each other with kind, soft faces. Even my strained mother chuckled. "Grandma used to listen to this all the time!" she recalled with a smile of her parents in Greece. Staring at these individuals in awe- foreigners who came from a million different parts of the world- I realized just how much closer one common thing could bring people.
March 19, 2008