Sunday, May 28, 2017


When I walk into Starbucks this morning, my coffee, dengan susu dipisah, is ready on the counter, for the Barista has seen me parking my bike across the street. Now that's service :) I like to relax and read while at Starbucks, but one of the doormen there likes to visit - and I should not, and do not, feel put upon. One has all the time in the world to read, less time to actually communicate with a fellow human being, especially one who doesn't mind interpreting my poor indonesian as well as repeating himself so that I might fully understand. This is a Christian man, in his early 30s, I suppose, whose name is Samuel, which he pronounces "Samwell", after the Old Testament prophet. He is overjoyed to talk to an American (we seem oftentime to be afforded this undeserved deference), and an American Christian at that, which he seems to feel is the most elevated sort (how wrong he is!). Anyway, we talk about America and family and children and brothers and sisters and his home island, where all people, he says, are Christian. In fact, he insists that I come there with him. We will fly to the island, then he will take me to his parents' house on his motorbike.

"Yeah, that sounds nice," I say.

"When?" he answers.


"When do you come?"

"Umm ... "

"I take to you to my parents' house on motorbike, one night, no problem. They will be so excited to have an American stay with them."

Okay. Well, here's the thing. This sort of friendliness, this sort of hospitality, this sort of openness is ... well, downright un-American. I have yet to overcome my national sense of reticence, my practiced neutrality, my misplaced sense of propriety and expectation for the presence of certain conditions -- like, for instance, being friends first. I know this is wrong of me, but there it is. At the same time, I know it is perfectly Christian, and I envy the man's easy aptitude for brotherhood and relationship.

I cannot help but feel that it would be good for me to be more like Samwell :)

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