On our visits to Uganda we are treated as very special guests. It's nice, I'll have to admit, but the attention can also be a bit disconcerting. When we drove up to the church in 2006, we were met by an enthusiastic, noisy, moving-fluidly-to-the-rhythm crowd. As we emerged from the car, I was greeted by a woman from the congregation (as were the others) who took my backpack and led me into the building. She was committed to carrying the pack and my water bottle for me during the entire time we were at the church. When I took it from her to get my camera out, it was quite obvious that I WAS going to give it back to her and was certainly NOT going to actually carry it. Shirley told me, upon my return, that I could, in this case, be sure that "what happens in Africa, stays in Africa."
That brings me to my upcoming trip to Germany. Just a few hours ago, I received an email from one of the organization staff for the conference I will be attending, one I've attended every time it has been held, save the first in 1984. The message was as follows (names have been changed to protect the innocent; however, I don’t think that's going to help me much):
Dear Jack (my real name):
I would like to let you know that your contact person on site in Dortmund during our conference will be Mrs. Smith and Dr. Jones as I cannot be there. Mrs. Smith will welcome you and attend you during the whole conference.
I wish you two interesting days and say many thanks in advance
Perhaps it is a quirk of translation, but I see a few issues here. My contact person will be Mrs. Smith AND Dr. Jones. Could this be some new cloning breakthrough where instead of a one-to-one copy, the German scientists have achieved two-to-one? Just asking.
And consider that Mrs. Smith will "attend you (that's me) during the whole conference." Sounds Ugandan to me and I can deal with that. But that last sentence. You have to be oh so careful with intonation and cadence as you say it out loud. "I wish you-two [pause] interesting days…" or "I wish you [pause] two-interesting days…" See where this could go?
It will be, I'm sure, two interesting days at the conference in Dortmund. And, two more days visiting another of my company's engineering operations in Oberhausen. But more than anything, I'll will be able to greet friends that I get to see only occasionally. And that makes it twice as good. At least.
Bis nächsten mal - auf Wiedersehen!
Begging for forgiveness, because I didn't ask for permission!
Caroline – Hope you don't mind my having a little fun with your note. Rest assured that 1) I wish my German was half as good as your English and 2) I appreciate very much what you and the rest of the staff at the VDI do to make the conference such a valuable experience for those of us who attend.