Not the beginning of a joke.
Not the beginning of a tragic story.
Not the beginning of a world-changing summit.
Just strangers meeting in an Italian coffee shop in West Virginia, of all places.
Joe and Gloria, the Americans, trying gelato for the first time. They take their little dessert cups to the sunroom and wait for their coffee. It’s a cozy little room with seating that’s just right to encourage conversation, even with people you don’t know.
Enter Nadia and Ester. Young ladies in their twenties. We exchange hellos and other pleasantries.
Ester is outgoing; Nadia a little more quiet.
Gloria is outgoing; Joe a little more quiet.
So Ester and Gloria talk. Ester says she will soon begin working at the Italian coffee shop we are now in. Gloria inquires about her accent. Persian, she says, but everyone thinks she’s Italian because she currently works at a local pizzeria. She is from Iran. Nadia is from Iraq. They’ve been in the United States a few years, each coming under different circumstances. They met here and became friends.
Gradually, Joe and Nadia enter the conversation. They all talk about language (Farsi, Arabic, English, and Mandarin), they talk about work, they talk about coffee. They don’t talk about politics.
Until Roberto walks into the room. He can’t help himself. He owns this coffee shop and has worked hard to make it a success. He’s a successful business person. He’s a nice guy and is very, very outgoing. And he has a heart for the less fortunate. He expresses his heart in terms of worldwide political and economic philosophies.
The others listen, the others being the Iranian, the Iraqi, and the two Americans. Geopolitics is beyond their realm of understanding, really. What countries do is beyond their control. They speak of respect for individuals and love and taking care of your neighbor in need. That’s all.
Ester says she is blessed to be in America. Joe says America is blessed to have her.
Roberto would have gone on all night, spirited man that he is. But it’s time to go. Roberto is very pleased with the international exchange that has just occurred. Everyone seems pleased. There are smiles all around. Nadia gives Gloria a hug.
We’re different. We’re the same. We have different perspectives, but we all want the same thing.
Just to live a life with meaning.
This is what the world should be.
Editor’s Note: This is a true story. The names have been changed to respect privacy.