"One day it occurred to me that it had been many years since the world had been afforded the spectacle of a man adventurous enough to undertake a journey through Germany on foot. After much thought, I decided that I was a person fitted to furnish to mankind this spectacle. So I determined to do it. This was in March, 1878." Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad

26.8.09

Friendly Advice

Yesterday I had an interesting encounter with a woman on the street. I was strolling the little one in the center of town while she peacefully napped. It was overcast, and it happened to be sprinkling when she fell asleep, so I had my handy-dandy plastic rain cover over her stroller to protect her from getting wet. I love this thing! It fits perfectly over the top part of the stroller and has mesh fabric on the sides so that air can get in. It's a great invention, and I never leave home without it when rain is in the forecast.

So, as I'm walking down the street a lady stops me and starts motioning to the stroller and speaking to me in German. I react with my set phrase that I'm now accustomed to saying, "I'm sorry but I don't speak German." The woman then continues in English and says emphatically, "You need to take that off. Your baby needs fresh air!" I pause for a minute because I'm not quite sure how to respond. Who does this lady think she is telling me what to do with my child? And why does she even care if Penelope has enough fresh air or not?

I respond by first trying to point out the air vents on the side and explain that she fell asleep when it was raining and I didn't want to disturb her. But the woman is still very concerned and again tells me to take off the rain cover since it's not raining anymore. So I give in (because it suddenly dawns on me that I may be committing a cultural faux-pas and I'm afraid of the consequences), and tell her thank you and keep walking.

When I get home I consult with the father (my German culture go-to for the moment) and seek an explanation for what happened with the lady on the street. He laughs at my ignorance, tells me to get used to it, and explains that Germans feel that it is their duty to let others know how to do things--the 'correct' way of doing things.

The next day I'm once again walking in the city strolling Penelope. She is taking her morning snooze in the stroller. To keep the sun out of her eyes I have her blanket draped over the stroller. And that is when I pass the same advice-giving lady.

We smile at each other and keep walking.

1 comment:

  1. I envision a "Susan Boyle" - type telling you that!

    ReplyDelete