It’s tough enough facing embarrassment in a place where one can speak the language, but it’s much more humiliating when it occurs among strangers in a foreign land. Such was the case for me when travelling recently in Germany. In my last blog post I told about how we almost missed our train because of the language barrier. Well, we made the train (just barely), but now for the rest of the story.
Even though we managed to board the train before it left, I still wasn’t 100% certain that it was the right one. I needed confirmation despite the fact that the train was now hurdling down the track at a breakneck speed and there was little that could be done if we were on the wrong train. But logic seems to be abandoned in stressful situations and Type A personalities such as myself feel compelled to be in control of matters at all times.
I spied a train steward walking quickly in the opposite direction, so I decided to give chase. Now instead of simply leaving my large piece of luggage with my aunt (again logic had flown the coop), I decided to drag it with me. As I attempted to run and maneuver my suitcase down a narrow corridor, my foot somehow caught the corner of that suitcase and down I went. And I do mean down! It was a full, splat-out, face-planting, thudding, humiliating, hope-nobody-saw type of a fall!
But unfortunately people did see because the glassed-in compartment next to the aisle was full of passengers. I looked up to find four senior citizens staring down at me with open mouths and wide eyes, but not one moved to offer me assistance. (No wonder I later compared them to a bunch of Muppets.)
Even though I thought I was fine, I decided to lie there for a few seconds so that these folks might think I was hurt and, therefore, less likely to laugh at me. It worked only too well, as my poor aunt thought I had knocked myself unconscious.
Slowly I picked myself up, smiled weakly at the still-gawking seniors, and proceeded to the compartment matching the number on our boarding pass. It ended up being the correct one on the correct train. I, apparently, was the only one acting incorrectly.
This just made my chase seem all the more ridiculous and as I contemplated what had just transpired and pictured my fall from grace, I started to laugh. It began as a quiet giggle and then became a full-blown belly laugh. My aunt joined in and we laughed until tears rolled down our cheeks.
Although that day had been stressful, it will remain as one the most vivid memories of our trip. And no doubt, somewhere in Germany, a group of seniors still chuckle over the crazy Canadian who wiped out on the train.