I was shopping at the 3rd street promenade in Santa Monica, alone and happy. I hadn’t been wandering in fashion stores for 6 months, although I had nothing to buy. “Be careful and keep safe,” my husband warned me when I left the hotel, while he was taking care of Claire. I rushed out to enjoy one hour’s free time, just because it was free time.
The promenade was not as crowded as the beach. I even appreciated a while the street singers. After trying several items in Zara, I lined up for check. “Take care!” the cashier handed me a paper bag which contained my new dress. I suddenly looked into his eyes, trying to figure out what this expression meant. Did I look like a teen because of my little body? Did he want to remind me of the insecurity in this tourist area? Was it relevant to my identity as a Chinese, who is usually believed to take cash and easily targeted by thieves?
I got no answer but walked out of the shop with my backpack near my chest. I hurried up and became more vigilant. Although suspicious, I still had time to go on my shopping. At the counter of Gap, I received another “take care”, which smoothed my nerves. I realized that “Take care” might mean nothing but a simple greeting in California. However, I still held my backpack tightly the way back to hotel, because for the fourth time of the day, I saw the fire-engine pass by with a frightening alarm.
Later, we became more relaxed with the local greeting “take care”. Nevertheless, I prefer to say “Have a good day” in stead, which delivers a more positive message.Why should I take care? Am I so careless? Is there anything I should pay more attention to? What will happen if I don’t take enough care?
As a foreigner, I always pay too much attention to small words and take all messages seriously. One day, when I was running at a park, I noticed a panel which reads” Watch out for venomous creatures”. I never took the same path again. That was silly, I know. But language has its own power.