Re: missing smiles

Posted on 08.12.2009


You don’t just smile at strangers on the street here. For one, they’re usually not looking at you. They aren’t looking at anyone.

In Baltimore, the smile was my favorite secret weapon. It was used for EVERYTHING. Getting something I needed, apologizing for doing something stupid, celebrating the day, acknowledging your neighbors on the street, deterring shady people from a possible attack by saying ‘I see you’ with my smile.

This only backfired when the aforementioned creeps would take a smile to mean ‘I am open, available, and totally walking alone because I’m trying to get picked up by random strangers’. That doesn’t happen here. Or at least, it hasn’t happened yet.

Good luck making eye contact with ANYONE you pass in Würzburg. When I DO make it, the smile is there. In general I’m smiling all day, because holy shit this is all really interesting and fun and exciting. And I’m laughing a lot louder these days too, especially when I do something stupid. So hopefully I’m amusing to strangers on the street rather than obnoxious.

So far my only exchanged smiles with strangers have been with litle old ladies (most likely to smile back btw) on the bus and street, when I forget German and am talking to a shop worker, or while waving and running across the street trying not to get hit by cars (I’d mention German class as well, but my classmates weren’t strangers after the first day). The rest of the time I’m still smiling of course, just not getting noticed/seen/almost hit.

There are so far no weird strangers walking too close, no one staring too long, no rowdy cat calls from construction workers (well played, Germany), not even people checking you out: and if people ARE doing it, they are masters of discretion. Which is admirable.

No worries. The people here can be as cold as they want, they are never going to be as intimidating as walking alone late at night in Baltimore. I consider this an easy challenge. I’m going to bring the friendly smile back to Würzburg. Watch me 🙂

Posted in: German Lessons