Day 32: Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Ok, so my pieces have been pretty light and general, just to keep things flowing from both ends (my brains to those who are receptors of this material). But today I feel compelled to write about an encounter of the Third Kind.

Picture this: I’m standing at a tram station with one of my fellow students and starting up a conversation.

“Do you know how to get back to the Goethe Institute from the VW Factory?” I innocently ask.

“Oh yes, it’s the same way we came”.

Not being very good with directions, I squint my eyes at the sun breaking through the clouds and determine that we are facing west. Well, it seemed like we were going in the opposite direction. I scan the stop and see a few locals huddling nearby.

“Excuse me, but do you know how to get to Albertsplatz?” A few garbled answers, but generally confirming that we were headed in the right direction.

“Why didn’t you trust me?!?” retorted the student back to me, as soon as I returned.

“Oh, I’m sure you knew how to get back, I just wasn’t sure. Besides, I like trying to engage with Germans to practice speaking and listening.”

Silence.

In an earlier conversation, this young man had told me that he was a week late getting to the course. At his parents’ insistence, he tried transferring to the GI in Munich. The thought was that it would spare this young individual’s fertile mind from any possibility of Communist East German influence. Who know, maybe there are vestiges of the Russian military still lurking around these parts. Our guesthouse was only just converted and maybe I could inhale the fumes from the bed sheets that naughty Russians slept on and catch the fever.

Anyway, he came back to Dresden after he realized what a deal he was getting in the city that had the cheapest courses in Germany. And so what, the Reds in E. Germany may not be so bad after all even if they are swarming in his own country. And yeah, the risk he took to transfer to Munich cost him a week, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Those Munchkiners take learning German too seriously and made hppim feel stupid. So back to the sidelines.

Meanwhile, he did the usual number on me.

“Where are you from?”

“Oh, do you speak Chinese?”

“Oh, ABC!!!” (“I knew it! I knew it! I could hear him cackling in the back of his mind. His glee was hard to hide”.)

He turns to our fellow GI companion on the tour. He compliments her when he learns that she is a Double E from IIT. “Oh, you are smart”, says he, definitively.

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