My friend Jill stood in line at the checkout. Through the store speakers, strains of I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas floated down to mingle with the chatter of the customers. Jill smiled to herself, it had been a long time since she’d had a white Christmas, and she wasn’t expecting one this year. Sydney was in the middle of a hot summer, with high temperatures predicted for Christmas day.
As she moved closer to the front of the queue, her phone beeped in her handbag. The screen flashed up her husband name.
‘We’re in lockdown but we’re fine. I’ll phone later.’
She frowned, confused by the message. Her husband Mike had recently started a new job in the Westpac building in Martin Place. Why would the building be in lockdown? Was Mike in some kind of danger?
‘What’s going on?’ she texted back.
‘Hostages taken at café,’ came his reply. ‘Police say just a precaution.’
Jill looked at the woman standing next to her. ‘Excuse me,’ said Jill, ‘have you heard about a siege in the city?’
The woman clutched at her old leather handbag and leaned forward, her voice a loud whisper.
‘It’s the Muslims, you know,’ she hissed. ‘Some bearded terrorists have innocent Australians locked up in the Lindt Café. Apparently they’ve got bombs planted all over the city. We should never let them into the country in the first place.’
A man behind Jill cleared his throat. ‘No-one’s sure what’s going on right now,’ he said. ‘The police haven’t issued a statement yet.’
‘My husband works right next to the café. I hope he’s okay,’ said Jill, her voice catching in her throat.
As she spoke, the queue moved forward and Jill found herself at the front of the line. She placed the three books she was buying for Ben, Carmel and Justine on the counter. She wondered if they would ever see their father again. She looked up to see a woman behind the till wearing a hijab, her dark eyes large and sad. As Jill made eye contact with the woman, the woman began to cry.
‘I’m so sorry,’ said the woman.
Jill leaned across and grabbed the woman’s hand.
‘It’s not your fault,’ said Jill. ‘It’s got nothing to do with you. I’m the one that is sorry – sorry that you have to go through this blame and derision when you’ve done nothing wrong. It must be so difficult for you and your family.’
The woman wiped the tears from her cheek with the back of her hand. ‘I hope everyone stays safe.’
‘So do I,’ said Jill. ‘So do I.’
On 15–16 December 2014, a lone gunman, Man Haron Monis, held hostage ten customers and eight employees of a Lindt chocolate café located at Martin Place in Sydney, Australia. Police treated the event as a terrorist attack, and negotiated with Monis throughout the day.
After a 16-hour standoff, during which areas of the Sydney central business district surrounding the site were cordoned off and nearby buildings locked down, police officers from the Tactical Operations Unit stormed the café upon hearing gunshots from inside. At least one hostage was shot by Monis, who himself was shot dead after police entered in response. Hostages Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson died, while three other hostages and a police officer were injured during the police raid. ~ Wikipedia
Jill’s husband, Mike, made it home safe and sound.
So did the woman at the checkout because people like Jill chose compassion and love.
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16 thoughts on “Making it Home • #1000speak”
Nice post Jill. One day people may start thinking before they speak. I hope I’m around to see that day. Good for you for being kind.
Thank you Anita.
Thanks Denise ♥
Prejudices are such a terrible thing and cause so many problems. One day…maybe today people will stop judging the book by the cover and choose to see what’s inside before dismissing or harming! Great post Katie.
It’s true, our exterior has so little to do with who we really are and yet that’s all we take into consideration sometimes. Thanks Rena x
We talk about how good acts ripple far away from us. So do the negative ones. That woman should not have to suffer condemnation because of the acts of others that really have little, if anything, to do with her personally. What an important gesture on the part of your friend and how differently she might have acted, given the circumstances. Those small acts are huge. Thanks for sharing this story.
Thanks Lisa. Small acts do have huge consequences — negatively, and thank goodness positively as well.
You gripped me and held me through the whole story. I’m so glad that Jill’s husband and the store clerk made it home safely. Thanks for sharing this story.
Cheers Mandi x
It would have been so easy, given your friend’s fear for a loved one, to react differently. The world is better for such voices of compassion and reason.
Compassion and reason for the win!
Katie, I was holding my breath the whole time hoping that no one was hurt. Blessings upon your friends, yes. And prayers of merciful healing upon those who lost their cherished loved ones.
Thank you Dani. It was a terrible day that will long be remembered.
At long last I’m getting to your post Katie. It was worth the wait! Fear does sometimes make people react in ways that aren’t very compassionate, and thank goodness that man in the queue and your friend were able to dispel the unpleasantness. And thank goodness too that your friend’s husband was safe.
Sorry Yvonne, I missed your comment. I’m so pleased and proud to be part of this movement and I’m looking forward to the next batch of posts this weekend. ♥
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