18.11.10

Three Women

Across the hall lives an older couple, I'd place in their late 60s or early 70s. As happens from time to time, we leave our apartments at the same time and hop onto the elevator together and start chatting. Actually she does most of the chatting and I ask a short question here or there or comment on whatever she is talking about. My ability to formulate a response in German is too slow to keep up with her. I understand most of what she is saying though and I admire her passion for life. She and her husband are always up to something - travel, adventures in the city, learning something new. Recently I was running a bit late for work and she came strolling out of her house, yoga mat in hand and donning rainbow leg warmers and headband. She told me all about the gym down the street (for women only, because she doesn't like gyms with meatheads wandering around) and the great yoga class that she adores. I have to confess I was a bit jealous that as I was trudging off to work, she was headed for her big event of the day. Another time she told me all about her two week cruise around India that she and her husband just returned from and how fascinating she found India. Again, I was a bit envious of her golden tan and her adventure. One Friday night as I was returning from dinner, she was all dolled up and ready for a night on the town. She is a character and I love her energy and zest for life and enjoy our little chats.

I have a cleaning lady who comes twice a month to get my apartment straightened out. Once in awhile I work from home on a Friday when she happens to come and she likes to practice her English so we talk. One time I told her about my job and the hours and the travel and the stress as she mentioned that I looked a bit tired. So she told me her story. She had held two fairly senior positions in big companies and had had a similar lifestyle to me some years ago. She finally had enough of the stress and resigned and decided to start a cleaning company. She has a full time job at an office and then does some houses and apartments on the side. I wasn't sure what to make of what she told me but she told me she is happier now than she ever was in the corporate world. She simply likes the feeling that when the day is done she has made the workplace or someone's home tidy and even more she likes seeing the people happy with her work. Corporate work was wearing her down and she never felt appreciated for the effort. It made me of my favorite job ever, when I worked in an ice cream shop. There really is something satisfying about a routine job with low stress that puts a smile on people's faces and maybe I have forgotten that too much lately.

I've now moved on to the B1.1 level of German and still going strong. I finished the A2.2 7 week evening class (2 hours a night, 4 nights a week) and moved right on to the next level, another 7 week evening course. I have the same teacher for this session as the last. She is a seasoned teacher and is unbelievably patient and always helps relieve the tedium and occasional frustration with a dash of good humor. It's not easy after a long day of work to head for two hours of German class but she has helped make it possible since I started in September. I can tell she wants to be there. She remembers the full class's names by the end of the first hour, she tries to think of creative ways to get the ideas across and she has a funny giggle when we come up with something particularly creative. She reminds me that the same set of tasks can be approached in a variety of ways, but some approaches will make the task more memorable and fun and why not try to apply that attitude to as many situations in life as possible?

I like these accidental women in my life. I can't really call them friends but glad that for whatever complicated reasons and although I never would have imagined, these three German ladies and I have crossed paths and they have all made me think about who I am and what else I can be.

Posted from Munich

2 comments:

aimee said...

reminds me of the old adage that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. maybe you're ready for something new??

Expat Traveler said...

I love your story and I ironcically can really think of similar stories just like that on my experiences in and around Switzerland.

Not all of them were with women, but all were enjoyable meetings, working on French speaking or German at times and having someone older than I tell me about their life's adventures.

Major props for hanging on to doing German classes 4 nights a week! Your teacher sounds amazing!