Wednesday, April 09, 2008

I know something someone else doesn't

I know something someone else doesn't. This statement may seem lame, but some days I go through life here feeling like I know nothing. Can't understand a word, can't read my permit renewal instructions, etc. But today. Today, I finally felt good about myself for once.

Of course, it was due to someone else's sheer bewilderment. But still.

I ran in the Migros (one of the grocery store chains in Switzerland) after I got off the train from work to grab some cheddar cheese for dinner. (I really have a taste for grilled cheese!) As I went to put my stuff on the belt there was a guy standing in front of me with nothing. But I thought he was with the woman in front of me, so I just set my stuff down, being my new pushy Swiss self.

But then the guy turns to me, with fear in his eyes, and says in perfect English, "Uh, do you know where the hardware stuff is? Someone said something about over there..." As I answered back, you could see the relief in his eyes that someone spoke English and could make clear that yes, he was supposed to go down a crazy looking moving ramp into the basement of the grocery store. (I too, had my month here before I realized there was another world of cereal, pasta, hardware stuff and cleaning supplies in this very store).

As he walked away, he glanced back at me as he neared the ramp, a silent thank you and a quiet something that we just shared that no one but another expat could understand.

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