"You are doing an amazing job here! Oh and by the way: You have beautiful eyes."
How did she react?
She laughed and said, "Thanks!"
How did I feel?
Nathalie works at the city hall. A massive building with grey, strict walls. It is personified heaviness. And Nathalie: Its opposite. When you enter her office she greets you with a soft smile. The make up on her face is perfectly applied and suits her well, her clothes look like a tailor has sewed them for her. Her outfit tells you: She cares. About her appearance, her job, her opposite, that's you. She opens her mouth and reveals her light, clear voice. "How can I help you today?", she asks you.
Either you respond, "Here's what I need-..." or, in my case, you don't say anything at all. It happened today: My reaction to her question was standing in awe with my jaw sagging. I wondered, "Did she really just ask me how she could help me?" Now you might wonder, where is this coming from? Why didn't she just sit down, handed her forms over and asked her questions? Here is the thing:
I have complained about the Berlin bureaucracy before. I don't know how many office doors I have opened to find an angry pair of eyes stare at me, an annoyed moaning tell me "Don't bother me.", vague gestures suggest for me to get lost. I have had secretaries shout at me for bringing the wrong form and office workers hammer at my hands when filling in the wrong blank. No joke. After years and years of living in Berlin I know the score. For us it's not just don't fuck with Berlin clerks, it is don't interact with them. At all. If you can. It is self protection: You might not make it out alive.
So yes, Nathalie's warm welcome was a miracle to me. And it was not just her. It was her whole office. They bantered with each other, spreading an easy mood. I did not believe my eyes. While Nathalie noted my data down she moved her shoulders to the beats from the radio. Between handing me my passport and printing a form for me she laughed about my jokes. So did her colleagues. They laughed out loud! At the same time Nathalie finished her writing faster than I have anyone seen type words. She raced through programs and blanks and was done with everything in five minutes. Five minutes which I had been prepared to be half an hour of fighting for my life. Instead I got the greatest surprise in weeks: A room full of sunshine and smiles. Thank you, Nathalie! You rock!