Go Ahead Gallivant 去和陌生人说话
—By Linda Ellerbee
"Go on over there, Linda." My mother pointed to a group of kids playing tug of war." Tell them who you are." Aw, Mama. Who am I? I’m a shy little girl who doesn’t want to ask a bunch of ferocious-looking strangers to let me play with them. They won’t like me, and I won’t like them, so please couldn’t I just go and sit under a tree and read something?No, I can’t. Mama gave me a small shove.Unwillingly, I introduced myself and asked to join in whatever they were doing. They accepted me and for the rest of the summer I played with them. Often, I wouldn’t return to my family until forced by dark or dinnertime.
I think about that childhood experience every time an American tells me he’s afraid to travel abroad since the events of 9/11, and that people out there don’t like Americans anymore. But I have been "out there" often in the last four years, and I’ve found that, although some people may disagree with our government’s policies, they rarely transfer that to me.
Last April, in Alexandria, Egypt, our group, all Americans, was told to stay together, to travel only in the specially arranged bus, the one with the armored car escort. The "or else" was implied. Another journalist and I ignored the warnings and struck out on our own, on foot, to get up close and personal with the old city by the old sea, and its citizens.We wandered markets, buying and eating freshly made bread. We went into stores. We sat in street cafes and drank coffee that tasted(to me) like mud, but, hey, it was Egyptian mud, so call it an adventure.
And then, walking down a crowded street, we heard behind us the sound of pounding feet and somebody yelling at us. We turned to see what was going on. A man was chasing us. We looked at each other. Had we made a mistake? Would now be a good time to start running? Before we could decide, the man caught up with us and grabbed my arm. Panting and wild-eyed, he paused to catch his breath, then smiled and handed me the half-empty plastic bottle of water I’d accidentally left in his store (where I’d bought nothing). He’d run six blocks to return it.I thanked him, and then inquired where he and his family went to eat the freshest fish in town. He smiled again and told us where to go, even what to order, apologizing because he could not leave his store long enough to join us.He was right about the restaurant, which was good and filled with other Egyptians who seemed happy to see us —or at least not offended by our presence.
If we do go elsewhere, if we meet people from other cultures, if we break bread with them or simply taste their bread, which is, presumably, different from our own, we cannot help but discover that essentially we are all more alike than we are different; it’s only that our differences are so much easier to define.
My parents were right to push me all those years ago. So now I’m pushing you.Go on out there. Tell them who you are. Ask who they are. Listen to the answers.
I know we can’t all play together, but perhaps if we begin to get to know one another, we can get past our mutual fears and learn how to be, if not friends, at least better strangers to one another.
1. gallivant v.游荡,闲逛
2. ferocious-looking 看起来凶巴巴的
3. strike out独力闯新路,开辟(道路等)
4. pounding feet沉重的脚步声
Linda Ellerbee (born August 15, 1944) is a journalist who is most known for several jobs at NBC News, including Washington (DC) correspondent, host of the Nickelodeon network's Nick News, and reporter and co-anchor of NBC News Overnight, which was recognized by the duPont Columbia Awards as "the best written and most intelligent news program ever."