Joan Midler had been on her way to work that Wednesday when she caught sight of something that seemed very interesting.
‘What is that?’ Her blue eyes widened and her brows knotted together. The young immigration lawyer from Orange County had a thing for helping foreigners. She loved interacting with people from other countries, who had different cultures and beliefs, working with them had widened her horizon.
She quickly parked her car to one side of the road and got out of it.
Of recent, there had been an influx of about twenty thousand refugees from Syria and they were having a hard time fitting into the small Californian city.
A mischievous smile pricked her lips as she recalled the complaints she had gotten from some of the refugees who could speak English. Language was a big problem here, and they had no choice but to begin ESL classes.
“Hello!” She called out to the three children and a middle-aged woman on the other side of the road. They seemed to be in some kind of fix, and they really looked confused.
Joan straightened her skirt and marched confidently in her black pumps towards them. They were arguing with a bus conductor who had begun yelling. And from his filthy lips, a dozen curse words fled into the air.
Joan noticed that the woman and the children who were obviously hers because of the strong resemblance seemed confused. They looked at the angry guy in bewilderment.
They were thinking, “Why is this guy yelling on such a sunny day?”
When she arrived at the scene, Joan couldn’t help but admire their colorful dresses which reminded her of some Indian movies she had seen when she was a kid. The girls covered their head with a little scarf, while the woman veiled herself with a Hijab.
“Hello” Joan flashed a smile at them.
The woman quickly shifted and pulled her children away from the stranger. Her swift action didn’t go unnoticed. It only made Joan laugh.
“Look, I am here to help you.” Joan pressed a hand on her chest, a gesture most people understood as love or peace. Obviously, they were new to the area and they needed some help.
Joan heard the kids whispering something in a language similar to Arabic, which she understood partially. Due to the nature of her job, Joan had learned to adapt to languages quickly. She knew how to speak French, German, Russian, Spanish and Turkish fluently. Other languages came in bits.
“What do you want here lady? Are you coming on the bus or what?” The angry conductor fired at her.
“Um, not really,” Joan paused and ran her eyes over the woman and her kids.
“Don’t look at them. They got on the bus and won’t pay, even after we dropped everyone at the last bus stop.” The man was still annoyed.
At that point, Joan understood what was going on.
“Whoa, did you care to find out where they were going or you were just yelling?” Joan wondered.
“I work on a bus, not some interview company.”
Joan ignored him and moved towards the woman and her kids who were about running when she raised her hands in the air and screamed, “Salam!” At once, they all stopped and stared at her in wonder.
“Salam?” A smile split the chubby face of the mother, as “Salam,” was the call for peace. It was a welcome. It was an invitation.
Joan hoped the woman wouldn’t gush out more Arabic, because she would be totally lost.
“Um, where were you going?” Joan gestured with her hands hoping they would understand, and they did.
The youngest kid screamed, “Arsadia…”
“Just hear that, ain’t no place like Arsadia!” The conductor yelled.
Joan laughed as she realized they meant, “Arcadia,” but their accent had caused a little confusion.
“I have a car; I can take you wherever you want. You can trust me, Salam.” She pressed her hands together and bowed her head like she was in prayer.
The woman moved closer to Joan. Apart from the fact that the woman spoke a word she understood, there was something about her sapphire eyes. They were calm, considerate and friendly. She could trust this woman.
“If you are thinking of leaving without paying…”
Joan flipped her purse open and handed him a few dollars.
She grabbed one of the kids and raised him into her arms.
“Next time, learn to be nicer to strangers. You don’t know when you’ll find yourself in need of help.” She waved a finger across the man’s face.
Five minutes after, her new friends were already in her car heading to her office where she would bring in a translator and help get them the assistance they needed.
They drove off to:
K Nair Law Group
31897 Del Obispo St Suite 225, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675