“We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses there is at last one which makes the heart run over.” ~Ray Bradbury
I have a weekly ritual of stopping by a small Vietnamese market close to our home. Thursday is delivery day for Lady Finger bananas, which are sweet little bananas from Mexico.
When I first frequented the shop, the small, dark-haired owner behind the counter would comment rather sternly, “Only bananas, that it!” She would weigh them and stretch out her hand, and I’d dutifully pay, hoping my small purchase would not continue to irritate her.
After a few months, I asked her name. “Maria,” she answered abruptly. I decided it best not to burden her with mine.
As the months continued, I always made sure I said, “Hi Maria!” and “Bye Maria!”
One day there was a younger man behind the counter, and since it was a family-owned business, I assumed it might be one of her sons. When I asked about where his mom might be, he explained she was taking a few days off.
As we started chatting, he shared how stressful the grocery business can be for her. “But I always tell her, Mom, you have to be nicer to the customers. You can’t yell at them!”
I decided to continue my quest to make friends with Maria. One day I brought her banana bread made with my little bananas. I handed the small loaf across the counter. She tilted her head and asked, “What this for?” I explained I just wanted to thank her for selling me so many bananas. I think she thanked me but maybe not.
One cold morning in December, she seemed unusually subdued. When I asked how her day was going, she answered quietly, “My eldest son die.”
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