I live in a Cary subdivision. I don’t have a front porch. I am an affluent, old, white male Yankee, and I work for a large corporation.

I own stock in Wal-Mart. I hardly know

my neighbors.

I have had nothing but good jobs working for large corporations. That is, except for my first job. I was too cocky and was fired rather quickly. I learned that lesson.

My father worked in a hardware store and my wife Mary’s father worked in a steel mill. They were terrible jobs. My parents had five children, Mary’s had four. My father’s job would be replaced by Wal-Mart today. That is a good thing. He worked 60 hours a week, had no benefits and made $100 a week for his last five years with zero raises. At one time, we had to apply for help from the government. That was really embarrassing.

My father always said he had one kind of luck and that was bad luck.

It seems the same for me, except it is good luck.

Mary and I both worked our way through college with no help from our parents. I had help from the government under the G.I. Bill as I volunteered for the U.S. Marines for four years. The last year was served in Vietnam.

We shop at Whole Foods and I cook for Mary every night, as she works later than I. When Mary and I walk at night after dinner, we hardly see anybody. The few souls we see are being led by their dogs and hardly say hi.

But we have lots of friends in the Triangle. It started with cooking. I learned to cook. Everybody I know loves to sit down to a good meal and talk. It is very simple. Nothing new can replace it. We have found many great cooking friends in the Triangle, mostly on the Internet.

Mary and I have been married 36 years and have traveled the world. Now the world travels to us. We invite world travelers into our home, to join us at our dinner table.

We have met lots of folks from all over the world at our dinner table. They are mostly from undeveloped countries such as Belarus, Moldova, Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan, etc. They are the same as us. They are very friendly, want to work hard, enjoy freedom and wish a better life for their children. They bring us small gifts from their country and profusely thank us for the hospitality. We wish we could help them more. But by showing them the warm, good-natured side of the average American, we help to promote peace and fellowship on this planet using very small steps.

I owe my father many thanks for the opportunity to have all this good luck.

For information on providing home hospitality for foreign visitors, contact the International Affairs Council at 838-9191 or www.ivc-wac.org.