The Germans are a standoffish, stereotypical bunch. Walking the streets of Berlin for a handful of days has confirmed this finding. They are also warm and welcoming, once you open ‘em up a bit. Andrew told me not to make eye contact with them on the streets (they don’t like it), and don’t engage them in English conversation.
Of course, I’ve done both.
Lots of grumbling has been gotten in return, plenty of smiles and friendly conversation too. So, last night after a long and wonderful day at the beach, we stumbled into a canal restaurant filled with boats making their way across Europe. We were close to closing time as the server greeted us grumpily. She huffed as I didn’t explain how many beers and waters we wanted. The table next to us were two couples in their 70’s enjoying the final remains of dinner. They sat quietly made a few glances our way but said nothing. Once Andrew, Emma Kate, Miss, and Baby A arrived, I leaned to my right and asked if any of them spoke English. I could feel Andrew cringe as he anticipated a harsh and hardened reception to my simple bid. The man next to me smiled and said, “Why, yes!” I asked him where they were from and what was good that they’d ordered.
Away we went.
He was the only English speaker, but all four engaged us. We laughed, shared stories, and learned a bit about Denmark, Sweden and Scandinavia in general. Fascinating folks on a three week river boat tour of Northern Europe. As they departed our company and headed for the boat and bed, we shared a warm goodbye with our newfound friends. We’ll never meet again, you know. So, what was the point?
Because, we humans are all hurting most of the time. Life is hard. We are designed to give and take care. We are made to make life more pleasant for those whose lives we intersect, even if only for a brief moment. It is more blessed to give than to receive. It just takes a little initiative from a heart more filled than empty. Fact. Emotions are contagious, right? Be worth catching, friend. Be the change you want to see in the world. Thanks Gandhi.
Live hard. Love harder…