The Gift Of Uncertainty

Every weekday morning Shirley and I go for a walk. We try to cover about three miles. Along the way we meet a cross section of our extended neighborhood: fellow walkers and runners; bicyclists; kids on their way to school; people working in their yards; people waiting for the bus; street people; an occasional worker plying his or her trade. To all we say, “Good morning.” A few we see frequently and, with them, we occasionally stop for a short chat; some speak more or less as we do; some speak with a Spanish accent, some with a Chinese or Korean accent. Walking is a social as well as a physical activity.
Something abnormal happen this morning. We greeted someone we had never seen before and she asked us with a slight Spanish accent, “Do you speak English?” She was in pain and looking for a dentist who took walk-in patients. We gave her directions to the nearest one we knew of and ask it we could help in some other way. She thanked us and set out to follow our directions. It wasn’t far. She gave us something too. Her initial question gave us the gift of uncertainty. We both appreciated it.
But such questions are not always a gift. The other way around and “Do you speak English?” can easily be a pretense.