Swat Teams and Sugar Cookies

A man from Burundi who could only speak and understand Swahili was traveling by bus from Maine to New York state. He was on his cell phone when another passenger heard the person on the other end say clearly in English the word "bomb." The bus was in downtown Portsmouth, NH, when the paranoid eavesdropper called 911. SWAT teams, the FBI and various law enforcement personnel went into anti-terror mode, because, as the Portsmouth Police Chief said, "Since September 11th, everything has changed ..."

Contrast this with the story/poem told by Naomi Shihab Nye the previous evening in Manchester, NH. An Arab woman became hysterical in an airport, wailing inconsolably. Airport personnel asked over the intercom if anyone spoke Arabic. Naomi hesitated and then attended to the woman, explaining in faltering Arabic that the woman’s flight was only delayed, not cancelled and she would be able to travel to her important medical procedure. The woman had a relative waiting at the other end, so they called to let him know of the delay, and to assure him that, she, Naomi, would stay with his relative until she was aboard her plane. The two women called many people to help pass the time. The woman had a potted plant in her carry on because of her custom of taking a piece of home wherever she traveled. She also had cookies covered in powdered sugar which she gave in thanks to the other waiting passengers. Soon, all the waiting women had powdered sugar on their faces. The men were at the bar.