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In this brief story, African American storyteller Diane Ferlatte, describes a small
incident from her daily life. While sitting alone in a restaurant having lunch,
Ferlatte notices an older white man also eating alone, who looks sad and
worried. When she tries to be friendly, the man responds with a grunt. Ferlatte
starts labeling him in her mind as a “mean old white man.” Later, she corrects
her own thinking by reminding herself that she doesn‟t know anything about
the man. Later, as he leaves the restaurant, the man stops at Ferlatte‟s table to
ask what she had said to him. When Ferlatte tells the man that she had said,
“penny for your thoughts” in response to his apparent worry and loneliness, he
pours out his story, sharing that his wife of 61 one years has recently died. The
two end up having a brief conversation, and Ferlatte realizes the importance of
reaching across barriers—of race, culture, generation—in order focus on the
person right in front of you.
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corresponding audio (MP3) and video (MP4) files.