So, a few years ago, there I was sitting at the airport in Frankfort after a sleepless overnight trans-Atlantic flight, waiting for my flight to Dublin. A friend had told me something about the Frankfort airport, but I couldn’t remember what. The Germans put up few signs in English, expecting, I guess, that people who come to their country should learn some German. (Gosh! The nerve!) I couldn’t see any sign that my flight left from this gate, but I checked and rechecked my boarding pass.
There were plenty of open seats around me, so when a young, tall, blond German woman sat next to me I assumed she would be interested in starting a conversation. We chatted briefly, but although her English wasn’t bad, I could see that speaking English was uncomfortable for her. I learned she was a nanny, heading to visit a friend who was working as a nanny in Dublin. It was her first trip abroad and I’m betting someone suggested she sit by an older woman for safety. Just her luck to get talkative me.
After awhile we moved toward the desk to see if we could figure out where we would board. We couldn’t see any planes or any typical gates. There were stairs leading outside.
Others crowded around and a dark-haired woman about my age came up and asked slowly if we were waiting for a flight to Dublin. She struggled so, that my German companion said, “Use your German.”
The woman said, “I….speak…..French.”
Now something you should know about me is that my best high school French response (in French of course) is, “I’m sorry. My French is very bad. Do you speak English?”
So I slowly told the woman in English that I thought she was in the right place. When she further asked how I knew, I said, “Je vois,” (I see) and pointed to the stairs. Using gestures and a few words, the French woman urged me to ask at the desk. So off I went.
“Is this the flight to Dublin?”
“Yes.” Very efficient speakers, those Germans.
I went back and reported to my new friends.
About then an announcement came on. It was long, sounded like absolute paragraphs, all in German. I turned to my tall German speaker and asked what they said.
“We take a bus,” she said.
The French woman eagerly asked me, “Do we go now?”
I said, “L’autobus.”
“Ah,” she said.
I said, “Tres, tres peu de Francais,” holding my thumb close to my finger.
She said, “I..speak…a….little…English.”
As we boarded the buses, I waved goodbye to my German nanny and turned to my new French friend. I said, “Ca va.”
She mimed wiping her brow and said, “Stress!”
I laughed and said, “Very American!”
As we went our separate ways, I called to her, “Bon chance!”