First things first, I’m very pleased to be writing today’s post from the comfort of our living room. This is notable, as it’s the first time I’ve sat in this room since last week Thursday. Sometime after today’s train tale transpired while on the way home from work that evening, I started to feel like death warmed over, and have been fighting a wicked flu since then. Apparently it’s been going around the area, and as a person who rarely gets sick, I can say that it was a doozy. It’s pretty bad when you are concerned about being able to work five days in advance. Hopefully I can make it through tomorrow… I already know that I am not looking forward to my 2-hour commute to and from work in the petri dish known as public transportation. If anyone has one of those goofy surgical masks laying around, please feel free to drop it off here. Back to the train!
A frequent complaint that I hear, particularly from other Americans in Germany, is that the Germans aren’t friendly. We were discussing that very topic last Wednesday in one of my classes, and the group generally agreed that Germans should be friendlier. All the group members are avid travelers, and expressed how much they enjoyed it when people were chatty and outgoing on their travels, even if they had been suspicious of it at first. But when I suggested that maybe they could step out of the box, and try striking up a conversation the next time they were on a train, they all balked at the very notion. The only time that seems to be acceptable, is when there is some sort of hiccup in the train schedules or other travel interruption. Only then is it okay. Otherwise, no dice.
So imagine my happiness the following day, when I ran into a fellow who seemed to have no problem going against the grain. Therefore, please allow me to present….
A Recipe for a Friendly German Train Passenger
- 1 German gentleman, aged gracefully until about ripe for friendliness at about 65
- his group, a mixed bag of seniors, armed with walking sticks and day packs
- enough Jack Wolfskin gear to cover all participants
- fresh air (helps those “happy juice” endorphins to pop)
- Franconian wine, the more the better
- Jaunty hat, as garnish
1. Toss your gracefully aged gentleman with the rest of the seniors, and send them out into the Franconian wine country for a day of light walking and fresh air. Remember to remind them to use the Nordic walking sticks, to ensure the most blood-pumping, endorphin-filled day.
2. They stop at a vineyard for wine and snacks.
3. Walk more, more fresh air, to the next winery.
4. Repeat steps 2-3, until they need to catch the 6pm train.
5. Pile all participants onto the train (they may bring more bottles of wine on, if they should wish).
6. The gentleman should now have reached both full friendliness level, and feel responsible for both the organization of the group, and random strangers around him on the train.
7. Top with jaunty hat.
This happens nearly every week on this train, sometimes with the same group, and sometimes with other groups of elderly walkers/wine-drinkers. They all pile on the train that is primarily full of gloomy-faced commuters, and laugh nonstop.
The very sweet gent was feeling too good to sit, I guess, and held court over the rest of his group in the center of our car. I was in my usual spot a few seats back, and absorbed in hitting “refresh” on my phone… the combination of no patience, crappy network in that area, and my data usage means that opening one webpage takes half of the train ride. I had my headphones in as per usual, but you can’t see them with my hair and hat, and since I’d been looking down for the entire trip, the guy was apparently worried that I had fallen asleep. Imagine my surprise when we were nearing the station, I felt a little nudge on my shoulder, and looked up to see the happy guy was standing there! He was almost as surprised to see me awake as I was to have someone actually trying to do me a favor on public transportation. Thank you, jaunty hat wine hiker man. You are a national treasure.