In the grand scheme of things, a strange thing happened to me yesterday on the way home from work. This may be the perfect illustration that not very much, and certainly nothing exciting, happens in my life. But, a strange thing happened nevertheless.
As I was driving towards the edge of Taunton, going in the general direction of ‘Get me out of here, I just want to go home’, I noticed that I needed petrol. I could have done nothing about it but there was the realistic possibility of me not getting home, so I thought it would be best to stop at a garage and fill up my tank. As I pulled into the forecourt I noticed that all the pumps were occupied, so politely waited in that limbo world between road and petrol pump. It is a sometimes sunny place.
Now, on the back of my car I have a sticker. It shows the Swiss flag and has the word ‘Schweiz’ above it. As I was sitting in my car quietly waiting for a pump to become available, an elderly man with a white pointy beard and a hat that would have looked far more at home in Bavaria than Somerset tapped on my window. I wound it down, as you would, and he started speaking to me…..in Swiss German! I could hardly keep myself from laughing as he asked whether I was Swiss and what I was doing here. I politely told him, in English, that I was local and on my way home from work. It turned out that he was British too. We had a laugh and I told him about my Swiss connections and that the sticker served as a constant reminder of one of the places in the world where my heart often resides and where I would like to be to be closer to people who are incredibly important to me.
He went off smiling as a pump became free and I inched my way towards it. Of all the languages I would expect to hear in Taunton, it has to be said that Swiss German is quite a long way down the list.
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