I did my weekly shop in Tesco this afternoon.
There were not many checkouts free so I noticed one with a somewhat elderly man with few items who appeared to be engaged in conversation with the checkout assistant.
She happened to be of African-Caribbean appearance.
As I unloaded my trolley I could hear he was talking to her about marriage and that after 47 years he was on his own.
She was politely responding and laughing with him.
As he left she said something to me, but she had a very strong African accent and I could not understand it – something about being married. She was a woman in her thirties, quite attractive, very personable. She asked me about the weather.
I had happened to buy some kosher grape juice for kiddush.
As she checked it out she asked me ‘is this from the Jewish section?’
I thought that was a bit strange because why did it matter where it was from? And why did she not say ‘kosher’?
I didn’t really give it a second thought until a few seconds later she said ‘I was in Israel this year’.
Oh, I thought, how nice, she clearly realised I was Jewish and, therefore, assumed I would be interested in Israel.
I replied ‘where did you go?’
[Packing the milk and yoghurts and fielding a rolling melon.]
‘Ashkelon? That’s a port – were you on a cruise?’
‘No, my brother lives there’.
[trying to remain nonchalant]
‘What does he do?’
‘He works for [name of high-tech company]‘.
‘Sounds like a good job. Did you enjoy your trip?’
‘Yes, I went to Haifa and Tel Aviv’. I lived there for eight years.’
[trying not to look surprised].
‘Where were you before then?’
‘Do you still have family there?’
‘Do you want to return?’
[trying not to channel the BNP]
‘No, my children go to school here… Are you paying with the Clubcard?’.
And she gave me my receipt. At which…
What a lovely lady. She made my day.
Never in my wildest dreams whilst I rummaged through the courgettes and the Esquise new potatoes did I ever think I’d have a short exchange in Hebrew with a Nigerian!
So there you have it. The Israel apartheid system which allows Nigerians to live there for at least eight years, provides them with job opportunities in a high-tech industry. Ok, I don’t yet know the full story but it rather debunks the Apartheid myth, once again.
I’ll be sure to look out for this lady again next time. It makes shopping such a pleasant experience to speak a bit of Ivrit at the supermarket.