the weblog of Alan Knox

Salaam and a cookie

Posted by on Nov 26, 2008 in discipleship, missional | 5 comments

Saturday evening, Margaret and I were returning home from an afternoon shopping trip. We had planned to buy something for dinner at the grocery store, but we realized that we forgot to do that. So, we decided to stop by a local Subway shop for $5 subs.

The man behind the counter took our order and fixed our sandwiches quickly. As we were checking out, I noticed his accent. I LOVE accents, and I love learning about people. So, I said to the man, “I don’t mean to be rude, but can I ask where you’re from?”

Apparently, he didn’t think I was being rude at all. He smiled and said, “Lebanon”.

I smiled back and said, “Salaam”, which is a generic Arabic greeting, like “hello” or “greetings”.

He smiled even bigger and we talked for few minutes about Lebanon and other Lebanese people in the area. I’ve met a few from local restaurants.

As we were about to leave, he stopped us and gave us three cookies.

It is amazing how much people will talk about themselves if you are interested and take the time to listen. I often talk to people – especially people with accents. I love languages, but I also love to hear people talk about themselves and their home countries. I’ve also found that people like to talk about themselves.

I’ve learned how to say “hello” in many different languages just by asking people where they were from. Of course, this means that I have to stop thinking about myself, and think about other people – which is hard to do. I’ve been taught (along with most people in the US) to consider myself and my own interests first. I’ve been taught to use other people to get the things that I want or that I need.

But, somehow, God has changed me. I no longer think about myself (well, not all the time). I often find myself wondering about the person behind the counter, or in line next to me, or taking my order, or next door. And, when I find myself wondering, I try to stop and ask them about themselves.

People’s demeanor (often) changes completely when you ask them about themselves. They become much more open to sharing and listening… especially when I listen first. But, this is something that is not natural for me. It is something that I’m learning, I think, through the work of the Spirit in my life.

I enjoyed sharing a cookie with Margaret on the way home. I enjoyed seeing the kids’ excitement when we gave them their cookies. But, more than that, I enjoyed learning more about the man behind the counter at Subway, and learning more about Lebanon and the Arabic language. I’m going to look for him the next time I stop at Subway.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 11-26-2008





  2. 11-26-2008


    Thank you for sharing such a wonderful experience. I’m like you. I love languages and accents and enjoy talking to people that speak other languages. It’s amazing what you can learn about someone if you just take a little time and listen. I know I get myself in the habit of flippantly asking how someone is doing and going about my way as opposed to truly caring about how they are doing and getting to know them. Thank you for this post.

  3. 11-26-2008




    Great! I can’t wait to hear stories from you about the next time you meet someone from another country.


  4. 11-26-2008


    G’day mate! Americans tell me that sounds more like “G’Dye mate!”

    “How ya goin'”

    Thought you might like the Aussie version of ‘Jingle Bells’sung to the original tune:

    Dashing through the bush, in a rusty Holden Ute,
    Kicking up the dust, esky in the boot,
    Kelpie by my side, singing Christmas songs,
    It’s Summer time and I am in my singlet, shorts and thongs

    Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
    Christmas in Australia on a scorching summers day, Hey!
    Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut!
    Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute.

    Engine’s getting hot; we dodge the kangaroos,
    The swaggie climbs aboard, he is welcome too.
    All the family’s there, sitting by the pool,
    Christmas Day the Aussie way, by the barbecue.


    Come the afternoon, Grandpa has a doze,
    The kids and Uncle Bruce, are swimming in their clothes.
    The time comes ’round to go, we take the family snap,
    Pack the car and all shoot through, before the washing up.


    Translation of some words:
    Holden Ute – Holden is a GeneralMotrs car made in Aus., and Ute (rhymes with boot) is short for utility (utility vehicle, snall truck).
    Esky – portable cooler to carry drinks and food.
    Boot – trunk of a car.
    Kelpie – Australian breed of dog traditionally used to herd cattle/sheep.
    Singlet – undershirt.
    Thongs – beach type shoes not women’s underwear.
    Swaggie – short for swagman; a drifter (person without a permanent place to live) who carried his swag (pack) as he travelled the country
    on foot looking for work. He was a common sight during the
    depression of the 1890’s and 1930’s.
    We take the family snap – take a picture of the family with a camera
    Shoot through before the washing up – leave quickly so someone else cleans up.

  5. 11-26-2008

    Aussie John,

    Thank you for the song! That brought tears to my eyes. 🙂

    Also, thanks for the dictionary.



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