Stay Open

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“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”  Isaac Asimov

I love this story by Paul Coelho!  In the current environment we all live in, we can be overwhelmed by prejudice, fear and judgment; but at the end of the day, it is up to each of us, to step back and see life through open minds, souls and hearts and in doing so, we may be surprised what we discover.

This story is from a restaurant at a German University.

A red-haired student, and undeniably German takes her tray and sits down at her table. She then realizes she has forgotten her cutlery and gets up again to pick it up.

Coming back, she sees with astonishment that a black man, possibly sub-Saharan by his appearance, is sitting there and is eating from her tray.

Straight away, the young woman feels stressed and shocked. But immediately changes her thought and presumes that the African is not familiar with European customs concerning private property and privacy. She also takes into consideration that perhaps he does not have enough money to pay for his meal.

In any case, she decides to sit in front of the guy and to smile at him in a friendly manner. The African responds with another dazzling smile.The German girl starts to help herself; sharing the food with the black man with genuine pleasure and courtesy.

And so, he took the salad, she ate the soup, both took their share of the stew, one took care of the yoghurt and the other of the piece of fruit,

All this peppered with numerous refined smiles – timid from the man and smoothly, encouraging and kind by the girl;

They eat up their lunch.

The German girl gets up to get a coffee.

On her way back, it is then that she discovers, on the table behind the black man, her coat placed on the back of a chair ……..and her food tray untouched.”

What would you do?


36 thoughts on “Stay Open

  1. Reminds me of the storey Stephen Covey tells of people being frustrated by a man “letting” his kids play up in a busy train. The tension is building. A fellow passenger finally leans over to the father and says a word to him about his kids being so noisy etc. The father says sorry and shares that his wife, their mother, has just died and he does not know what to say to their children.

    Kind of puts things into perspective when you bother to stop and consider an alternative viewpoint – not projection our beliefs onto others, labelling them accordingly.

  2. What a great lesson! Thank you Karen for this. If the man is still there I would share from the tray untouched, and of course apologize. If he’s not there I would try to share with someone else.

  3. haha Karen, oh my! Call him back and share my tray with him too?

    This reminds me of the many times I feel strongly that I’m right about something, only to learn that I am so very wrong. I always kick myself for that and feel super embarrassed. I love those people who easily laugh at their mistakes. ❤
    Diana xo

  4. What a wonderful stone, Karen! I would invite him to share my food, like he had allowed me to share his. And I would smile 😄

  5. Fabulous story, Karen, and one that I will carry with me throughout the day. So important to get a fresh angle on things from time to time–those trusty ‘ruts’ we all tend to slide into can grow awfully deep and entirely too comfortable. 😉

  6. Such a rich story, full of cultural assumptions. It does make me think, Karen 💛
    I would be confused, rather than stressed or shocked. I’d probably let it go and let him eat. Then perhaps I would have noticed my own tray! 😉

  7. Aw man, talk about the Universe smiling:). I inadvertently “steal” grocery carts all too often while in the store, thinking they’re mine. I think it’s the Universe teaching the impatient one patience.

  8. I would take a look at the surroundings and, like Val, likely see my coat and tray. But how much fun would it be to sit and share with the ‘stranger?’ I have no problems eating alone in a restaurant (or at home), but food is meant to be shared. It would be too fun to sit down and chat with this guy – he sounds like a winner! 😀

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