Contributed by Alan Makhoul. Check out more of their posts from this summer here.
The vibrant colors of fresh fruits and vegetables caught my eye as I walked home after work today, instinctively pulling me inside the local farmers market. As I meandered through the checkerboard of local venders, the aroma of fresh fruit became surprisingly noticeable – it was sweet, natural, and unlike anything I had experienced in the United States. I spent time walking around the market, taking in the beauty of it all, before deciding to buy some cherries.
I stumbled upon a vender whose cherry stand sat underneath a gap in the tin roofing of the market. As sunlight spilled onto his cherries, they glistened beautifully. Behind the cherries was a man with a sun-worn face who was covered head to toe with purple cherry stains. I approached the man, pointed to the pile of cherries, and said “1 kilogram please.” The man did not speak English and instead said something back to me in Serbian. He gestured at a different type of cherry (a tart variety that I have not seen in the United States) and I assumed he was asking if I would like to divide the kilogram between the two types. I gave him a thumbs-up and he began weighing out the beautiful red cherries.
While he weighed out the cherries, I tried to figure out how much I owed him. Beside each type of cherry there stood a sign reading “200” with no specification as to the weight. Since he suggested splitting up the 1-kilogram purchase, I assumed the price was 200 Dinar per half kilogram, a reasonable price. I handed the man 200 Dinar for the first bag but he refused the 200 dinar I offered him for the second bag – he put up his hand and said “good” in Serbian followed by a sentence that contained the word “kilogram.” I surmised that the price was actually 200 per one kilogram, thanked the man in Serbian, and walked off with my cherries.
As I walked home, I realized something. The man could have very easily accepted the second 200 Dinar payment – I had already taken it out and was offering it to him. But instead, he remained honest and turned it down. That man’s integrity struck me in an unforgettable way. I was moved by his commitment to honesty, having been warned countless times that English-speaking foreigners are often taken advantage of. Needless to say, I will definitely be back for more of those delicious cherries.
Until Next Time,