I passed a couple on the way in to a cafe this morning. Maybe Japanese and in their late 60’s. Flapping between his outstretched arms, a street map. Every now and again, he would let go of one corner of the map and stab at it with his finger. He was getting excited. She, obviously does not agree with him. When I came out of the cafe I noticed they were still standing on the corner. He was now glaring silently at his folded down map. Her arms were firmly crossed over her chest, mouth pulled tight. I could see the tension between them.
“Excuse me, can I help you?” She smiles and bows slightly. He asks her something. She nods. His English broken he says “Railway station. Why this street one way? which one on here?” I ask if they want to walk. “Yes walk, why no?”
“There are many buses at this time of the morning.”
I give them directions. I try to keep my language simple and offer landmarks on their way, show them where they are on the map. He bows slightly and then repeats back my directions.
I smile and say “Yes, very easy, you will see.” They smile at each other and thank me, “You very kind. Nice young lady. You smile big. Thank you!”
I smile silently, bow my head to them, and walk towards my office. I feel good about having helped.
Stopping at the traffic lights I look back. The are walking down the street, talking. She reaches out and gently puts her hand in the middle of his back. Fluidly he reaches behind him and grasps her hand in his, catches her gaze and smiles.