No Police but ice-cream..!

AFTER 9/11 on a trip to Portugal I found people weren’t as friendly as they were before. Men and women at bus stops and railway stations kept a distance, especially as they looked at my slightly unkempt beard.
“May I help you?” asked a young voice by my side. I wondered whether it was an angel who’d been sent to rescue me; she looked as sweet as one. “This is where you are, you’ve got to take the metro till the station, then hop onto a train to reach the place! By the way my name’s Patricia!”
We got talking and she even came part of the way, “How come you talk to strangers?” I asked, “Aren’t you afraid?” “You’re no more a stranger now,” she laughed, “not after we’ve become friends!” Simple words I’m sure that could solve half the world’s problems!
Said a father: “ When my son Rob was eleven years old, he came home from school in tears one day. A couple of older kids had beaten him up at the bus stop. We called the school and found great support. “We’ll be happy to call the boys’ parents,” we were told. “And you should call the police.”
The next day was Saturday. Rob happened to look out the window and said in alarm, “There are the boys who beat me up!” Two older boys were standing in front of our house, as if they were waiting for Rob to step outside.
I immediately began to think of what I wanted to say to them, but my wife, acted first. She opened the door and said with a smile, “Hi guys. Would you like some ice cream?” They looked at each other in puzzlement, but one of them said, “Sure. Why not?”
They followed her indoors. Her idea was to help them see that Rob was a person, not a target. He had a family; he lived in a neighbourhood and even owned a friendly dog. My wife drew the boys into conversation while we ate ice cream. After a few minutes, she said, “I know there’s been some trouble at the bus stop. I think there may be a misunderstanding. “ They nodded sheepishly, then apologized and said there would be no more trouble. And there wasn’t.
The vice-principal of the school called later, “Did you call the police?” he asked. “No, but we’ve taken care of it,” my wife said, “We fed them ice cream.!” I love this story and like to think that the mother who fed her son’s enemies that day was Patricia the girl I met abroad, because what she did to me that day in Portugal was to offer a stranger a scoop of ice cream..!

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