This article belongs to In Search of Laughs! column.

(Or: Why should I say thanks?)

(Or: Just sit your xenophobic butt down, and listen to reason!)


Why would anyone want to change the world?  Why would they want to do it one person at a time?  Hey, whose world?  By the way, what kind of change? Lastly, by what do you mean: how to change the world?  Are you kidding me?  This go-getter manifesto tries to answer these six questions and many more.


It's not that I was looking for this process, I was just merrily riding my life, watching our human experiment, and it quite literally fell into my lap. But the repetition of this marvelous technique has worked wonders for me, others that have used it, and most of those who have experienced it.  So, join us!


America is not just a melting pot of cultures; we have a billion things to do! People come to the United States and, whether they choose to assimilate or not, everyone eventually decides to play the consumer game. And out these people come, alone, and in small groups. When these newbies talk to each other, others really do notice.


I live in Los Angeles, California, and to say I meet a lot of people from other countries would be a colossal understatement. You can't swing a dead cat here without hitting a newcomer.  (Not that anybody I know here swings dead cats anymore!) Hey, even my governor is an immigrant. When I'm out of my home, in stores, parks, or at public gatherings, it has amazed me just how little I can understand of what I hear spoken. 


By happenstance one evening, while I was devouring a particularly vicious hunk o' beef at a local munchery, a woman passed by my table slipped and fell towards me. Whether it was chivalrous intent, or to protect my meal, even now I can't say. I reached out to steady this pretty young lady, and she fell across me!  All the other customers were treated to a penetrating look at her long legs, framed by some flaming purple panties! She was spewing an earthy European language I didn't know when I picked up one word.  I repeated it and she smiled.  She now collected herself confidently and departed. I was quite stunned not to have comprehended but the one word from all she said. I kept repeating it. I noticed many onlookers were smiling and repeating that one word with me. This whole thing left an impression on my memory!  The word was spacebo! (spa-see-boh)


Continuing this evolving sartori, recently I found myself frequenting a mom-and-pop type corner store in my hood, as the clerk was verbally accosted by another patron. The clerk was ringing up the purchase of Kools and a big orange drink, while multi-tasking on his cell phone in another language.  The irate patron sardonically commented: "You foreigners come here and don't talk right! Why don't you learn English?"  Then he walked out, foregoing his purchase. My clerk sweetly replied: "Merci! Danke-shein! Grazi! and D'omo arigato!"  I chimed in with spacebo!  We both looked at each other and laughed! Funny enough, the clerk was from Syria, (Shu-cron!) and was speaking to the Chinese owner of the store in Mandarin! (Shi-shi) We laughed!


Get my point yet?  The magic words, in any dialect or language are: Thank you!  If you can just imagine yourself abroad, far from home, and being told thanks in your home tongue, then understand it's actually heart-warming. Wouldn't you like to be heart-warming, on your command, whenever you needed it?


This month, near famous UCLA, I was waiting to challenge a rush hour crosswalk at Westwood and Wilshire Blvds.  Our pedestrian traffic signal flashed: "Go for it!" and I, and my trusty cane, lit out warily for the other side. Halfway, I saw a police car approaching, suddenly turn on it lights and siren, then quickly cut in front of the many cross-walkers!  I said loudly: "Watch out, here come the cops!"  Everybody stopped except the man next to me!  I grabbed his coat and pulled him back, just as the harried cop drove by.  The man I stopped looked at me and spoke words for which I had no meaning!  Understanding my un-comprehension, he smiled and said: "No habla englais  . . . Portugese . . . Ob-ri-gado!"  Wow, deja vu, all over again!  I told my newest pal: "In Estonia, they say Pall-un!"  We laughed and went on our separate ways.


Discerning the subtle differences of people from faraway lands can be as difficult for Americans as it is for our visitors to see our origins here.  If you think it's hard for us to figure out which person is from India (Nah-mah-sateh!) and which is from Bangladesh, (Do-no baht!) then walk a mile in their sandals, and try to compute the difference between Southerners and Texans. (No real southerner considers Texas as part of the South!) Muchas Gracias!


To my Filipino friends who tend my grandfather's grave overlooking Manila Bay since World War II, Mabuhay! And Salamat po! (Sa-la-mat-poh)  To my esteemed Ethiopian friends, for tending and honoring one of my heroes, Haillie Salassie, I say: Ama Se Garalo! (Ahma-seh-ga-rallo)  For the kindnesses shown me in North and South Korea: Kamna sa nida! (kam-nah-sah-needa) For my most favorite tea, to those who send it from Sri Lanka: Tut sudi! (toot-zoo-dee)


Remembering my eastern-European derivation, and recognizing my polish-Czech ancestors: Jen-coolia! To my "The World Famous Comedy Store" pals, in Hebrew: To-dah rabah, and just to cover my ass, in Yiddish: Deinke!  To salute my Thai, Punjabi, and Indian buds at my nearby and expensive 7/11: Cup cow cahn and Shu-crah!  Dhan-wad! Saht -shree-ah-kal! And to that Kazakhstan girl on the bus: Rah-me-in...rah-me-in!


Lastly, if I have butchered my translation to your particular home tongue, please
forgive me.  After all, I am what The French say I am: Je suis stupid americaine!


The answers to my opening questions are:


1) Like the world is so nice, it doesn't need any changing!  That's horse-hockey!


2) It may take more longer to do it one person at a time, but it's lots more fun!


3) Your world, my world, everybody's world. Hey, we only have one planet!


4) The kind of change that will make you smile again and again!


5) How? Try this technique, and be really surprised by the reactions!


6)  This is difficult, but . . . no, I'm not kidding.  About changing the world . . . I'm not       kidding, but other than that, of course I'm kidding.  That's the way I am . . . I kid!   In a red shoe kinda way.  Are you kidding me?  Bob's your uncle!


There you go, the twenty-three most powerful words I know. They can alter situations dramatically. Do what you can. Use them wisely. Use them often!  But most of all, kind reader, for investing your time and attention on my most meek and humble attempts here:


Thanks . . . thank you very much!


Now, get off of your arse . . . and go change our world!


I am Lue Deck, The Comic in Red Shoes


How do you say: "Thank you!"  in your country?