Moment #527. Diet Coke and Amharic. Thu, Feb 23, 2006.
02/23/2006. On my way to an early supper I went a little out of my way to a certain gas station to buy a newspaper there instead of a closer newspaper vending machine in order to see if they had soda on sale, and to possibly follow up on previous book placements there.
Neither of the employees I met on a previous trip were working there, but they did have Diet Coke on sale, two 12-packs for $4.99, with a limit of 10. I got a newspaper and four 12-packs. My cashier was a Caucasian English-speaking guy, but the other cashier appeared African.
I took my purchases out to the car, but hadn't reached the limit, so I went back in for four more. This time my turn came with the African cashier. As he rang me up, I asked if he was from Ethiopia. He said he was from Eritrea. (Eritrea was part of Ethiopia at one time.) I asked if he spoke Amharic, and he said yes. I said "ndayt-wahloo" (good afternoon) and he started speaking in Amharic. I said all I knew as "ndayt-wahloo" and "ndayt-ahmahshoo". I told him that our church has a book in Amharic, that it's a Christian book, and offered him a free copy. He eagerly agreed to see it. I took my stuff out to my car, and brought back in an Amharic and an English Book of Mormon, and waited in line again. I think there was someone in line behind me, so I wanted to be quick. He flipped through the Amharic quickly, read the title, and asked where our church was. I said it was in the flyer inside, and my phone number was also there. I excused myself saying I didn't want to bother him at work, but that he could call me. He seemed upbeat and wasn't reluctant.