Wednesday, October 3, 2012

You're Not in Kansas Anymore...

My wife, daughter and I had a wonderful time in Switzerland visiting the small town of Bellinzona just above the Como, Italy a little ways.  It was Fastnacht. And all the cities, large and small are filled with wonderful colorful parades.   But, the day was growing darker and it was time to go.

We boarded the Swiss train and found our seats.  It was late and we hadn't eaten anything for dinner yet so we headed to the dining car after dumping our luggage. 

We sat next to a window watching the trees and poles whiz by.  The dining room attendant came over to us and just stood there.  I looked at him and tried to give him our order in the best Italian I could muster...which isn't saying a lot.  After a few attemtps, the attendant looked at me and said in perfect American English "Sorry, I don't speak Italian."

With a mixture of surprise and relief I shut the menu. "Niether do I!" And then I gave him our order.  After he walked away I leaned over to my wife. "I don't think he's from around here."

A few minutes he came back with drinks.  So we talked.  "Where are you from?"

Wichita, Kansas. 

I said, well, fella, you took a wrong turn somewhere.  What the heck are you doing here?

He explained: I lived in Witchita and worked for Worldcomm.  When they folded I was let go.  There was nothing.  No one was hiring.  I sat in the living room with my wife, discouraged, trying to figure out what to do. 

Then out of the blue, my wife said "let's move to Switzerland".  She had just read some on it and it seemed like a nice place.

Wow!  Talk about random. But if you have nothing, what do you do?  I can see him rubbing his chin saying "You know that idea sounds so crazy, it might just work."

And it did.

The American and his wife had lived there now for eight years.  I asked him how is German was.  "Excellent." he said.  Well, I guess after eight years, it had better be.  I recall him saying they had one, maybe two children now.

So, I said.  Eight years.  Is there anything you miss about the US?

He smiled and said 24 hour grocery stores.  24 hour drug stores.  24 hour anything!

Yes, we knew how he felt.  We had been living overseas several times by now.  We missed those as well.

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