Helping Tourists

Saturday I finally, **FINALLY**, secured a European standard power cord for my speakers. I repeat, FINALLY. There was an issue back in… November when my dad first ordered it for me. The cord kept on not being delivered, and we had to wait two months before there could be an official assumption of “item definitely lost” declared. Then it occurred to us to find the company base here in Germany, which we did, and ask them where we could get the cord. After several emails the Customer Rep. person told me that the item could be ordered and shipped. Then I found out that I could order it right through this CR person, via email. I did so, and she informed me that the item would be shipped the next day. As mentioned above, I picked up the cord from the post office today (I received the slip yesterday). This process, as opposed to the one almost four months ago, took less than a week. HURRAH!

Lesson: Don’t trust international post with items that you *really really need* (case in point, I really *needed* that cord so I could play my music at an appropriate college-student-volume-level).

On my way back through the city I was stopped by a man who, in broken German, asked if I spoke any English. I nodded, and after asking confusedly about the “main street” (and me not understanding where he was going with the question) wife told me they were “ basically just looking for a place to have breakfast.” I said I knew the perfect place for breakfast and coffee, and told them it was on my way, so I’d take them there.

Looking back, I should have made shifty-eyes, told them hurriedly to “follow me”, and scurried off, staying close to the edges of buildings.

If you need to ask where I was taking them, you probably haven’t paid too much attention, if any at all, to the previous posts. I told them about Café am Markt (C.a.M.), the best café in the city, and the woman told me I didn’t sound like a local.

Looking back, I should have made shifty-eyes, cleared my throat, and drawled “I knooow noot vaaat youuu arrrre meeaning.”

I explained I was an exchange student from the U.S., and that they had found the right person to ask about breakfast, in my opinion not only because I speak English, but because I know where to bring people to feed. (Note: have been reading too many books and articles about and for my Vampires in Literature and Film course.) They explained that they were from Scotland but now lived in Strasbourg, and were on their way to the (Hahn) airport to catch a flight back to… where else?... Scotland for a week’s vacation. In general they seemed slightly relieved to have found someone who spoke fluent English, but their relief then seemed to wane as we were going through the city centre. I say this because the husband looked around and wondered out loud if they’d be able to find their way back to the car afterwards. I briefly explained the make-up of the main streets → | | | ← (three large streets parallel to one another) and told them that as long as they headed back the way we came, they’d hit the right street and find their car.

Looking back, I should have made shifty-eyes, giggled darkly, rubbed my hands over one another, and quickened my pace.

We made our way through the Wochenmarkt (=market every Tuesday and Saturday), I was asked if I had been to Scotland, to which I proudly replied that I had, summing up the time spent in the UK with “About a week in Oban, visit to the Islands Mull, Staffa, Iona, some time in the Lake District – stuff like that.” The woman asked if there was a University in the city, I said yes, told her where it was, and then we arrived at C.a.M. I pointed out a table where they could sit (they were lucky to get one of the larger tables – Saturday early afternoons are usually packed), and started to the back of the café to get something to go (heck, if I’m going to go all the way in the building I might as well get something while I’m there, no?). The woman asked if I was staying as well, and I said rather easily that no, I wasn’t – I was just getting something to go and then I had to be off back home (my speaker cord was burning a hole through my backpack; I also had 10 eggs at the top of my pack I wanted to see home safely). I went to the three workers there, among them our literal laugh-out-loud man and possible owner of the café, and told them I had brought them some customers who were originally from Scotland. Our friend did the “worship” bow a few times, and then asked me what people ate in Scotland. I said bread in fat, eggs in fat, and fat. I also explained how they had stopped me, asked if I spoke English, asked where they could get breakfast, and how I knew immediately to bring them to C.a.M. A nice chuckle, that scenario. Then I took my coffee and left.

On the way home I realized that I probably should have stayed and talked to the nice couple from Scotland. I could have asked them how long they had been living in Strasbourg, why they had moved there, how they like it, and so on. They would have asked me about the University, about the life of an exchange student, possibly about other countries I had visited. We would have laughed a bit more about RyanAir, elaborating the topic we had briefly touched on during the walk to the café. They would have finished their breakfast, me my coffee, they would have thanked me once more for the help, I would have wished them a safe flight, and we would have gone our separate ways. The whole event might have lasted no longer than an hour, and yet I brought them to their destination and said goodbye to them like it was just another good deed well done.

I thought about how I had experienced no desire or sudden urge to sit and talk with a nice couple that also spoke fluent English and to share opinions of living in a foreign country, nor did I want to get away from them as fast as possible. I acted the part of a nice civilian, helping out some tourists, and then turned to the local Germans to chat briefly with them as well. It was odd, very odd indeed, to handle the ordeal with the feeling of delivering a note from one teacher to another in middle school. I helped tourists like it was a second nature.

By the way, my new speaker cord works, and my music is good ‘n’ loud. :))))