Jason and Hans-Lothar
"Your conversation's sound level is amazing. Thank you for being so polite!"
How did they react?
Their eyes widened. Putting on their open smiles they said "Thank you, that's so sweet of you!"
How did I feel?
German train rule number one: Speak low! People get in a lather if someone's on the phone for more than 10 seconds and there is no way my fellow passenger on the Muni, a passionate amateur rapper accompanied by his ghetto blaster, would have survived on a German bus firing away gangsta rhymes during a rush hour jam 60 minutes. In San Francisco he caught some amused faces, some finger snipping and a little annoyed eye rolling. In Germany he would have caused endless chains of harsh sounding swear words and knives, thrown at him through facial expressions. And countless emails to the bus company. Beschwerdebrief- the German's favorite.
I love observing cultural differences. Speaking volume is an obvious one. I remember my first time on an Italian train, I was a kid and stunned by how people were shouting at each other. "Are they coming from a party?", I asked my mother. She laughed. "No-..."
A Californian friend recently described his friends saying "They are Americans- Loud but friendly." I remembered his statement today after hanging up the phone. I was sitting at the station and had just left someone a voice message, putting on one broad twang. The message was- loud but friendly. Next to me Jason and Hans-Lothar started talking. It took me five minutes to figure out what language they were speaking in. They were sitting about 3 inches away. They didn't speak, they didn't whisper- they murmured. I was flattered by the amount of respect they treated their surrounding with and suddenly embarrassed by my own "HI GAL..." on the phone. Finally I heard a clear "Really" and was sure it was English. I talked to them. The compliment went easy. They were ultimate sweetness. And fun:
The train came, we sat down together,
"Hey can I take your picture?"
"Absolutely! We are picture whores."
Turns out Hans-Lothar is German and Jason is Australian They met in Jason's village, Hans-Lothar was passing through. Before their first date a kangaroo crossed the street in front of Hans-Lothar. A kangaroo, the opposite of a black cat. Obviously. I asked them how long they'd been together for.
"Seriously!? I would've guessed 2 weeks. You guys are so.. In love!"
"Haha, yeah, from top to bottom!", Lothar said, referring to one great German song.
The fifteen minutes on the train were my favorite ones of today. i didn't stop laughing for one second. That's why all 10 shots I took of them turned out blurry- my hands kept shaking. In fact I think I our conversation was louder than any ghetto blaster gangsta rapper has ever been. Hopefully no one threw their knives and swear words at them once I'd left. Though honestly I am sure they would have bewitched any angry German, spreading their charms and making him fall for them just like they did with me.