Alison's Writing Portfolio · On Places & Travel · On Politics

I’m an American and I’m So, So, So Sorry – Perceptive Travel

I started to get hungry on somewhere on the long train journey between Cologne and Baden Baden, and so I flagged down the man pushing a food cart down the aisle.

It became clear that his English was just a bit better than my German. This meant that we were not going to have a detailed conversation, but I communicated my wish for a cheese sandwich and he let me know the price.  “Change, change, I need to find some change,” I muttered to myself, as I rummaged through my wallet. “Change!” he said, loudly, with big bright smile. “Change! Obama!” And he raised his hands over his head in a victory salute.

I grinned back at him. “Yes! Yes! Obama! Yay!” It was just a few months after the inauguration and I was still a little giddy.  We beamed at each other for few minutes, and then he pushed his cart away.

§

As I munched my sandwich and watched the Rhine river unwind out the window, I reflected on how different that exchange was from similar conversations I had during the George W. Bush presidency, when international sentiment had soured….

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