Incident #1: Had lunch yesterday at one of our current favorites, a hole-in-the-wall Colombian joint here in downtown Nashua that makes the most kickass empenadas I’ve had in a long time. Anyway, I was in the mood for a coffee with lunch, so I ordered one—but really without thinking, I ordered it as a “café“. The gleeful reaction by the lady who took our order (and who also runs the place) was worth going there for lunch by itself.
Incident #2: Stopped at a local Russian deli/grocery on the way home (after said kickass empenadas). Picked up some dumpling and biscuits, and as we were checking out, my wife tells the young cashier “thank you”—or rather, she tells her spasibo. And again, the way the young girl’s eyes lit up upon hearing that was worth the trip by itself.
See a pattern? Yes, it’s the good ol’ U. S. of A., but when you go into an a local ethnic market or restaurant, you’re voluntarily entering a little piece of someone else’s country. I’m not saying that you have to carry on a conversation in their native tongue with them, but would it kill you to learn how to say “thank you”, especially if you go there often enough? (And yes, my Korean sucks, but even so, I still attempt a passable kamsa hamnida at the local Korean grocery when we go in.) Americans, especially of late, have done a fine job of telling people to piss off; I figure every little bit—no matter how little—the other way can’t hurt, right?