It was a day of random, silly interactions that made me smile.
First thing this morning, I was at work. Even though I have been there nearly a year, I still sometimes get calls for someone that as far as I know hasn’t worked there in five years. But back whenever they used to publish telephone books, and some people have kept theirs. I’ve gotten better at asking people that call where they got the number, and some people give meaningful responses.
He must have been nice and really helpful, because the calls all start rather randomly ‘The projector in the lecture hall doesn’t work.’, ‘My laptop won’t boot.’, ‘The printer in the lobby has a problem.’, ‘I have a question about my taxes.’ (OK, that one was actually a wrong number – apparently I am a digit or two off the Revenue Office.) Just because of the way the world changes and the rise of ‘bring your own device’, I’m not even sure if there is a department that handles hardware errors for people. Since starting, I found that the e-mails being sent out with automated forms and the English translation of the website for requesting signed certificates still had my phone number listed as a point of contact, but I’ve had those fixed.
Anyway, this morning started with a call from a professor in the Department of Near Eastern Archeology. I laughed and said I couldn’t help and sent her where I send everyone (technically it is the office that handles student accounts and login problems, but I figure they know what they are doing and have contact with the networking department and trouble shooting guidelines, so they definitely know more than I do). No one ever calls me back after I transfer them, so it must be working. 🙂 Anyway, I gave her the number but she stayed on the line and talked to me – telling me that my accent made her homesick for time she spent in the USA when she was in her 20s and backpacking across the West and sleeping on beaches. She just felt that Americans were really nice and trusting (whether that was just the 60s or peoples’s reactions/sympathy with young European girls, I don’t know. I know there are organizations like Couch Surfing and people I meet in roller derby sometimes take me in and back in the 90s when my train in England was stopped for a bomb threat and I had nowhere to go I slept on a stranger’s couch, but I never know what to do when someone knocks on your door with a story about being willing to do odd jobs for cash – my inner cynic sometimes panics) and missed that in Germany. I told her I missed the friendliness (since just last night I asked a woman for directions and she ran off) but didn’t know if it could really be distilled down to nationality. We had a nice chat and she told me that she had updated her phone list (print date 2002), but I was a bit unsure if she crossed the number off or put a star next to it to call me again … 🙂
Later in the evening, I was standing in line at the grocery store when a woman bumped into me and apologized profusely. I told her it was ok and no harm was done, but then had to add that I thought it was super sweet that she apologized, because I am so sick of being rammed by peoples’ carts at that exact same store – as with tonight, no harm done, except that usually people don’t apologize or even acknowledge they did it, and that really chaps my hide. So we got into a chat, and of course it turned out that she isn’t German either (she moved to Germany from Russia 35 years ago – is it just me or does it seem crazy that someone was able to leave Russia in 1982???). She went on to tell me about a book she wrote (and asked me if I could help her find a publisher in the US!) and we even exchanged names.
Anyway, nothing consequential, but it had been a while since I had had these light-hearted, easy going meetings, and it really made me smile. I wrapped up the evening watching an episode of Scarecrow and Mrs King, a television show from 1983. It was another flashback to a some simpler times. 🙂