Tuesday, April 18, 2017

'Respect for Elder' earns me the respect in foreign land first time

First overseas travel is always special in the life. Excitement and joy of the first travel can never match the energy levels during other trips.

My first overseas trip happened to be in land of Uncle Sam. Fighting all constraints , fighting with the bosses (internal politics , visa constraints , strong case for young techy to land in-front of experienced executives etc ) OR over-hours in office to ensure my outcome exceeds expectation OR fighting internally with queue of wait listed people, I was finally about to land in USA - FLORIDA.

But as with all first timers ( I guess), in the last minute I had messed up lot of things. The biggest miss was that i had forgot to get any CURRENCY notes. As a stop gap arrangement, my company arranged to source the CURRENCY card recharged at one of the money exchange counters at airport. They also did some arrangement so that i can get some actual CURRENCY notes.

Standing in the long queue, I noticed an elderly couple standing besides me. Out of Courtesy,  I decided to give them a way. They were surprised at my gesture and the people behind them looked at me hoping as if I had gone mad.

It was a long queue and for some reason it was moving slow. Unlike India were people stand as if they will climb on the people in-front, in this line people had maintained sufficient distance. People were calmly standing. The lady at the counter was slowly executing her work. Though it was annoying, I was trying to distract myself from thinking about the slow pace of her work.

But as a saying goes 'you can only be a lion in your own area', I was patiently waiting in a foreign land. It was more disturbing to watch the elderly couple waiting in the queue. They were shivering. I decided to take the matters in my hand and approached the lady at the counter.

She frowned at me and ignored me. I knocked at the door. This annoyed her and she immediately yelled at me and called security. I was shocked. Dressed in blue (I assume they were COPS or security) , some people just came in and asked me what was happening.

Before I could answer, they asked me to show my passport. After going through my documents, they just asked me what the problem was. I explained to them that I wanted the lady at the counter to help the 'elderly couple' first so that they do not suffer more. The COP smiled after hearing me and just went away.

I was surprised. He just asked me to go back and stand in the line. By this time, I was the villain for the whole crowd. I apologetically stood in the queue.

After five minutes, the cop was back with another person dressed in a suit and introduce me to him. The person (the manager of this shop) first of all thanked me for being concerned about other citizens and loudly clapped for me (the COP joined him).

Suddenly everybody smiled. The manager then said 'sometimes the cultures' make a great difference and such positive from different cultures are welcome in american society. He also made it a point to explain the whole scenario to people standing there. Suddenly I turned from a villian to a HERO and people were cheering for me.

I was amazed that my simple gesture was appreciated so much by the crowd. But, I guess the values of respecting elders learnt from my family is what automatically got awakened in this situation.

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