Thursday, March 28, 2013

Melted My Heart

In addition to teaching college, I work at a college tutoring center to help students with papers they write. It's called The Writing Center.
Yesterday, a student from Africa came in and made an appointment with me. He had a round face and soft eyes. He spoke in a quiet voice when I called him over to my desk.
"I need to work on my signature," he said.
Apparently, he had taken the name "The Writing Center" seriously and thought we were there to help with handwriting. If we were there to help with handwriting, I'm the worst person ever to work with. I'm left handed and according to my handwriting, I should have been a doctor.
Helping people with their signatures is not really on my list of specialties, but I didn't want to turn him away. I could tell the guy was kind of shy and a little intimidated. After all, he was attending college and negotiating the world of America with English as his second language.
Here's a photo I took on campus this morning.
He wrote down his first name a couple of times in a swirl of pink ink. Gabriel, Gabriel. 
"It looks fine," I told him, "but you need to include your last name too."
I showed him my signature, which is very messy.
He looked ashamed for a minute then admitted that at the bank when he went to cash a check, they made him give a thumbprint. He was humiliated and thought his signature must not be good enough. 
Oooh. That made me feel so sad.
I spent some time with him talking about using his home bank to cash a check and maybe even using an ATM rather than going into the bank. He pulled out two credit cards, one for his bank ATM and the other a credit card. Neither of them were signed and both still had the sticker on the front that says to call to activate.
I asked him whether he had activated the cards and he said he has. I told him he needed to sign the back of the cards and remove the sticker.
He practiced his signature a few more times before signing the back of his credit cards. 
He was an unusual appointment for me at the Writing Center, but I probably did more good for him than I do for most students who make appointments with me. 


8 comments:

Roz . Russell said...

What a lovely story and such a friendly thing to do, you are truly a humanitarian, Gabriel will be a much better person for having crossed your path.:)

Just Me said...

You are wonderful and a good teacher, no matter the subject. Thanks for sharing.

Lucia said...

Just like "JUST ME" said you are wonderful, I'm so happy you helped him. :) It feels good to help someone with something that is so easy to ourselves but so difficult for someone else. My heart melted too. Thanks for sharing.

Lucia said...

Just like "JUST ME" said you are wonderful, I'm so happy you helped him. :) It feels good to help someone with something that is so easy to ourselves but so difficult for someone else. My heart melted too. Thanks for sharing.

Delana@dujour said...

That was a very touching story, Paulita. I understand what it is to be lost like that in a new world. When somebody reaches out like you did, it can make all the difference in the world and gives you the strength to keep going. I knew I liked you!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

What a sweet story. So touching and obviously rewarding for both of you.

Ali said...

Love this story, thanks for sharing. Navigating a culture so foreign from his own must be mystifying in so many ways. I'm glad you were able to help with a small portion, to make his journey that little bit easier.

Bonnie said...

It was so nice of you to be patient and help this man with his signature. I'm an Occupational Therapist and work with children and many struggle with handwriting. Now that many schools are not teaching cursive, I am concerned that we will have many children & adults who cannot sign their name or read cursive. I spoke to a bank about this and they do accommodate customers and allow them to sign checks in print or with an X. If you see this man again, he can speak with his bank and see if they accept print signature.

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