A few years ago, I decided to visit my brother who was stationed
Germany. I assumed that most Germans would speak English. But I found
that many people spoke only their native tongue--including the ticket
inspector on the train. He punched my ticket, then chatted cordially
a bit, making gestures like a windmill. I simply nodded from time to
time to show him that I was interested. When he had gone, an American
soldier in the compartment leaned forward and asked if I spoke German.
"No," I confessed.
"Then that explains," she said, "why you didn't bat an eyelid when he
told you that you were on the wrong train."
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