This is one of my favorite stories while vacationing in Europe. Early on, when we got to the Neteherlands, one of the lens in my glasses fell out. It fell on the floor of the car. The screw had come loose on the side. I had nothing to tighten it with and didn’t know if perhaps it was stripped. I use these glasses for near sightedness. Most of the time, I don’t need them except if I want to see a sign or read something far away while driving, so I use them for driving. I went a couple of days without driving so I didn’t really need them. When we got to Marseille, France from Utrecht, Netherlands, a few days later, I decided to go get them fixed.
I’m just going to admit it was a bit scary driving in France, especially at the roundabouts where it seemed to be a free for all. It’s hard enough driving in a foreign country, not knowing some of the signs, and not able to read or speak much French at all besides saying, bonjour, and merci! Anyway, I carefully drove myself to an eyeglass store. I made it through numerous roundabouts on the way!
When I got inside of the store, a young woman behind the counter said, “Bonjour! blah, blah, blah, blah.” She basically said, “Welcome, how can I help you?” I smiled and placed my hand on my upper chest near my throat and higher heart, and said, “English.” She said in broken English as best she could that it would be no problem. She was very eager to help me. I showed her my eyeglasses and told her I either need an eyeglass kit or I need someone to fix them for me. She took them to the side and looked at screwdrivers near her, trying to tighten it but none of them worked. Then she disappeared into the back of the store. She quickly came back and asked me to come with her. I went with her into the area where you order your glasses. She asked me to sit in one of the chairs and to wait five minutes. She assured me it would only be five minutes before she went to the back of the store.
I sat there wondering what she was doing with them. I knew I needed new glasses but this wasn’t the time for it. I wondered how I would tell her I couldn’t buy glasses just yet since I was just passing through town. I wondered if the lens was too scratched up. I wondered if the screw was stripped and couldn’t be used. I worried if it would be expensive to fix. As my mind was wondering and wandering all over the place, she soon came back. She was polishing the glasses as she was walking from the back of the store to me, smiling and very happy. Did I mention she was very happy to help me?
She came to me, and handed me the glasses, all smiles. I was smiling and grinning from ear to ear. I felt so silly for worrying about all that stuff. I asked her, how much did it cost. She pulled her jacket away from herself, and showed me her name tag. I looked at it, I smiled, and said, “oh, Lisa!” I asked her again, how much did it cost. She looked at me with a question on her face. Then, understanding, she excitedly said to me as best she could in English and hand gestures, “No charge!” I was so filled with relief and gratitude. I said, “Thank you. Merci! Thank you so much!” And then I reached out to hug her and she hugged me. It was so precious. Just the utmost tender moment with someone I could barely talk to or understand.
Smiles, hugging, and in general gestures of friendship, goodwill, and love is a universal language! I walked back to my car just feeling ten feet tall, feeling encouraged, feeling light, and yes I cried tears of joy! On my European trip, the most important thing I learned was to say hello and thank you in whatever was the spoken language in the country I was visiting. I am very happy to know that people are generous and kind people everywhere I go!