Next week, my wife and I will host a Brazilian broadcast journalist as part of the Rotary Foundation’s Group Study Exchange program.
When I was I initially asked a while back if we could host a GSE team member, I didn’t hesitate to say yes because we have hosted GSE participants from Slovakia, Germany and France, and in each instance, the experience has been rewarding and the friendship lasting. We still communicate with our French guest, who was here three years ago.
But before I could give the Rotary club of Washington a firm commitment, I thought it best to first ask my wife. She didn’t hesitate either, except to say “as long as we share the responsibilities.”
The five-member GSE team coming from Brazil has a full slate of activities, so our “responsibilites” are rather minimal, other than transporting our guest to pickup points each day and providing a few evening meals.
In past years, I felt somewhat uneasy accepting the offer to host since I was not a member of Rotary. This year, however, I am a member of the “club,” not the Rotary club of Washington, but the Rotary club of Waynesburg, and as all good Rotarians know, it is “Service Above Self,” not the Rotary club to which one belongs.
Nonetheless, we are anxious to welcome our Brazilian guest into our home and experience the unique cultural and vocational exchange the GSE program offers.
I did note on the schedule/itinerary that on Saturday, “activities will be at the discretion of the host family and it is truly a time to do with them whatever you feel is appropriate or would be normal for you and your family.”
The first thing my wife said was that it would be a great day to take her – yes, her – shopping. “And you are coming along, too.”
Shopping is an obscene word to me.
I told my wife that the directive said do what would be “normal for you and your family.”
“What about teaching her the fine points of lawn care?” I suggested. “I work in the yard on Saturday.”
“A little shopping won’t hurt you,” was her reply.
There is no such thing as “a little shopping.” When I think of shopping, I envision going to the grocery store and picking up a few items, not walking down every aisle and stopping while someone‘s buggy creates a blockade as the shopper reads the label on every can of tomato sauce.
But shopping really took on a new meaning for me this past March when we visited a good friend in Tucson, Ariz.
One day, my wife and our gracious hostess decided to make a trek to Costco to buy some special coffee. And then I heard it again: “And you are coming along.”
Well, I needed a new book to read and I was assured Costco had books, so, yes, I went along.
This Costco was a big as Rhode Island and filled with as many people as a sold-out hockey night in Pittsburgh. Talk about blockades.
“Excuse me. Excuse me. I am sorry. I didn’t mean to jump in front of your buggy.”
I made my way to the book table, looking in earnest for Michael Connelly’s “The Lincoln Lawyer.” There was not a Connelly book to be had.
Once the coffee was purchased we got in a line that that didn’t move. I said I was going outside to wait, and wait and wait.
Oh, well, I must accept the fact shopping is a part of life, like it or not.
But one of the first questions I plan to ask our Brazilian guest is, “You don’t have Costco in Brazil, do you?”