What do you answer when you are asked this simple question: “Where are you from?” Do you answer “I am from” and then put the place you live, or you were born, or grew up in? Well there are different possibilities to it, but I guess many people will answer this starting with words “I am from …”.
Do you know what my standard answer was until recently? It was: “Well, it’s complicated.”
So, I did that when I was asked by a taxi driver where I was from, while he drove me from a train station to the office I work with, in a small Danish town close to Copenhagen.
When I said “It’s complicated”, he was quite confused, so I gladly started to explain that I was born and grew up in Moldova, yes-yes the little country between Romania and Ukraine, then lived long time in Germany – twelve years! – and became German citizen, and now I live in Denmark since five years.”
The driver appeared even more confused. I guess I expected him to be amused and being impressed, but he wasn’t that at all.
After a pause he said: “Well, I wanted to know whether you would like to pay in Euros or Danish Crowns.” After a startled moment of silence and exchange of glances in the rear mirror, we both burst out laughing.
“Then I am definitely from Denmark!” I said.
We had a wonderful chat afterwards and the driver found out for me that all places I lived for a longer time were on a mainland, whether it was Moldova, Algeria, Germany or Denmark. An unimportant but fun information.
But there are two lessons I learned from this seemingly simple but for me unforgettable exchange.
The first is that we are afraid, consciously or sub-consciously, to appear simple and unsophisticated and tend to make things more complicated in order to appear more interesting.
And the second was that the thing I was scared most, misunderstandings, could be the cause of very funny and wonderful encounters and can make life even richer. On that day I started appreciating misunderstandings.
What misunderstandings made you laugh? When was the last time that your mind played a practical joke on you?