(For the few of you who follow my blog, you will know it’s been AGES since my last post. I have been in what I would call a Super Rut – professionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. I am inspired to pull this post out of my draft folder today in part as a way to kick my own ass but more importantly by yesterday’s terrible terrorist attacks in New Zealand.)
Or – smartphones giveth and smartphones taketh away.
Having taken the evening train from Nuremberg to Munich in order to catch an early morning flight back to the states, I checked into the airport Hilton. After settling in my room I headed down to the bar for a bite to eat and one more good German beer. It was a large and largely deserted bar adjacent to the lobby. I sat down, ordered and got out my phone to check email trying to stay on top of work while traveling abroad on business.
Several minutes later, a dignified looking gentleman tapped me on the shoulder and asked if he could show something to me. A little taken aback I said okay. He pulled out his phone and showed me a photo he had just taken of the bar. A little confused I looked at him quizzically and he urged me to take a deeper look. Sure enough, all four of us at the place had one thing in common – we were all alone and glued to our phones.
I am certain at this point we exchanged names and have wished many times that I could remember his for he was to have a profound effect on me that I will never forget. The Dignified Norwegian Gentleman asked me to join him at a table for actual human interaction and then proceeded to do the same with the other two patrons.
At this point, you may be asking yourself – what? Is she fucking crazy? A woman traveling alone in a foreign country? However, I have traveled alone a LOT and this just seemed good. I tend to listen to my gut.
So, there we were. Four total strangers with seemingly nothing in common – a sixty-ish Norwegian ship-building engineer, a middle-aged pharmaceutical rep from the U.S. Midwest, a young man from the UK who was there to install high-end color copying machines, and myself, an executive for an international brand from Southern California.
Awkward, you say? No, the exact opposite in fact. (Okay, well except for the moment when my food was delivered and I immediately made a shit-show of it by knocking my fries all over the floor!)
And back to the gift given all four of us – that of genuine human interaction. Despite obvious differences, we are all, at the end of the day, simply human and have that and many other things in common. When we drop our facades and simply, honestly engage with one another it brings to light all the commonalities we share – not the differences.
So to my Distinguished Norwegian Gentleman – where ever you are – may a star shine upon you. And thank you for the gift of recognizing shared humanity in all of its forms.
(For all of you who are of Irish ancestry, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! And for those with an interest in history check out this YouTube video for the facts behind the myth of the saint at The Catholic Talk Show.)