by Rebecca Teasdale, March 11, 2018
At the end of a recent business trip, I hopped into a cab and headed for the airport. Tired and drained, I relaxed into the seat behind the driver and retreated into my head. My thoughts turned to my life at home –kids, husband, commitments. Immediately, my thinking was interrupted by the driver who cheerfully started chatting. Typically, this is where I would turn up the non-verbals, pleading, “Don’t engage me. I’m tired and don’t feel like small talk.” Yet, this time, I chose to engage, starting with, “Where are you from?” “Eritrea,” he said. “I bet you’ve never heard of it.”
He was delighted that I had heard of it and actually could place it on a map. In a short time, I learned that he had returned to his home country a few weeks ago to bury his mother. Most of his family had emigrated due to the threat of conflict with neighboring Ethiopia and an oppressive government. Life there is arduous and has one of the worst human rights records in the world. Yet, despite the bleak circumstances, he had a cheerful and sunny presence that followed me home.
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