This lovely scene took place a day or two before New Year’s Day, but this is the first chance I’ve had to write it down. It’s a perfect story for a new start, and what you can’t see here electronically is that every time I tell the story aloud, I start to choke up.
I was working at a cash register at the bookstore, which is very unusual for me. Let’s just say it’s not my forte, but business was slammin’ — as it was throughout the holidays, you book lovers will be happy to hear. A woman in her 40s stepped up, talking animatedly to a young man. Evidently, from the conversation I was eavesdropping on, he was from Africa, and his English wasn’t particularly good. As she spoke to him, he placed a beautiful hardcover H. P. Lovecraft collection on the counter.
“Just reading this will help your language skills,” she said excitedly.
He smiled at her and nodded.
“And you’ll find that reading in a new language will help your vocabulary. You’ll feel more at ease speaking to people.”
He smiled some more.”Yes, yes,” he smiled.
“You know, reading is a gift,” she said to him warmly, as she handed me her credit card. “And now remember, you promised me that one day, you’ll buy a book for someone, too.”
“Yes, I will,” he said. “Thank you.”
And with that, she shook his hand and walked away.
Now everybody’s smiling, except for me, of course, because I’m crying.
Reading is a gift.