Her story – a follow-up of Cultural identity crisis.

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She got a part-time job as a waitress in a restaurant shortly after they settled in this new place. The two-rooms apartment they moved in was on the top floor of a hundred years old building. The wooden stairs led the way to the attic which always seemed mysterious to her, she was up there once, it was dark and silent, some old abandoned furniture with a smell of rotten wood was left there. A chilly feeling of discomfort and fear caught her instantly, and then spread to her hands and feet. She ran down the stairs with her heart pounding . Are there any unsettled souls? Victims from WW 1 or WW2? The apartment itself was sparsely furnished and the bathroom which lacked shower facilities was to be shared with three other families. They lived there for about 4 – 5 years.

Supporting her family was a necessity for her. Being the oldest child, it was her duty, and she took the duty seriously. She did not quite fit in the class, her life was apparently different from her fellow classmates. Her after-school activity was nothing else but her job, not a particularly pleasant one but it provided them with money, not a considerate amount but it was still very much appreciated, and needed.

She always operated on her own, going school, taking the tram to the restaurant after school, and then returning home right before midnight. It was the winter days that were hardest. Accompanied by the heavy snow, the way back home became extra long. Her mind might be empty during these walks, what else could she think of?

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She worked at several restaurants during those early years, it was in one of the restaurants that she encountered a kind lady in her seventies, who took a particular liking to her and was curious about her background. Despite her limited knowledge of the language, the conversation between them went surprisingly smoothly. Knowing she was eager to learn English, the lady brought her home to giving her some lessons. It turned out that the old lady emigrated to America and spent most of her life there before returning to Norway. She taught her how to pronounce “refrigerator” with her American accent. She brought her to the church on Sundays. Sitting on the bench in a church and listening to the sermon was something new to her. It comforted her in some way, it must be the silence and the gentle words from the priest.

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This kind of guest – waitress conversation and close connection was not quite appropriate. Naturally, she was paid to take orders and serve all the restaurant guests, a longer than average conversation with a particular guest was to be avoided. The claim was not made explicitly to her, it was just that other waitresses started to serve the old lady before her.

She recognised the importance of doing her job properly, so all she could offer was a polite greeting when she passed by the table where the lady took the seat, ignoring her warm smile and the encouragement for a more generous talk. The smile then disappeared and her unmistaken disappointment touched her heart, but she ignored that as well. Her ignorance was certainly acknowledged, eventually, the kind old lady ceased to come.

She has not seen her since then. Is she still alive? The image of that lady, her warm and encouraging smile, the way she pronounced “refrigerator” sometimes appear in her mind, reminding her of the weakness of human nature, and her dreadful mistake.

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Author: Isabelle

Content writer / editor & Language advisor

9 thoughts on “Her story – a follow-up of Cultural identity crisis.”

  1. Hi Isabelle!
    I’ve been waiting for your story from the last posting to be continued… 😉
    What a nice episode from “her” life. I can relate to it too, as I’ve been working as a waitress for many hours a day in my early days in Germany too, with limited knowledge of the language and the culture. Interesting people and some of them really influential, unknowingly to them. A smile, a phrase can stuck with us throughout our lives. I’d love to see those people one day and say them ‘Thank you’ for that smile or for that phrase that gave me the courage I was desperately in need in my youth.
    Thank you, Isabelle, take care and keep up posting. I love your work! 😉
    Cat

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    1. Thank you for lovely comment, Cat! So good to hear that we have something in commen and share some similar experiences. This post isn’t quite a follow-up post of the previous one as I didn’t write much about the cultural identity. I just followed what I had in my mind when I was writing, it’s more like background information relating to the previous post. Good you find it interesting. A little warmth and concern means a lot to those who are in a new and uncertain situation. Sometimes it can even change their life in a surprisingly positive way. Thank you Cat! Always lovely to have a chat with you 😊 Take care.

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    2. I agree with you Cat! When it comes to the differences between extrovert and introvert, it can be briefly defined in the way you did – whether you gain energy by being alone or by socialising with people. I also agree with you that we’re never purely extroverts or introverts, but have a tendency to possess more qualities which are either Extrovert or Introvert oriented.
      I did a test recently and received a detailed report of my profile. The test is based on four personality aspects:
      Mind: Introvert (I) vs. Extrovert (E)
      Energy: Intuitive (N) vs. Observant (S)
      Nature: Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F)
      Tactics: Judging (J) vs. Prospecting (P)
      My profile is INFJ which is the rarest personality type, making up around one percent of the population (depending on the region)
      I’m reading through the report now, immensely interesting. Perhaps I can write a blog post about personality types, but more in-depth research is needed to make the post a good one. Thank you for the comment, Cat. Inspiring! 😊

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      1. Hi Isabelle, thank you for your answer! Yes, I know this test, we share the I and J part. 😉
        I also think that within each particular type there are lots of subtypes — people just are different, according to their genes, upbringing, environment, self-efficacy and self-determination etc… Yes, I’d love to read about the personality types too. We have to remember that types are types and that each individual is unique on his own. 😉
        Take care,
        Cat

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  2. It’s interesting how you wrote this in a way that you project yourself from past into a 3rd person, which I enjoyed particularly. It was brilliant to separate yourself as a storyteller from you as a protagonist as if those two are different persons. I know a good story when I find myself reflecting my past or simply things I’ve said or done after reading one. That said, yours give me a lot to think about. 🙂
    I always appreciate your stories which are honest, meaningful and heartfelt.

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    1. Thank you for the incisive comment, Ethan! It’s a pleasure to read it. It just crossed my mind that you might also have a passion for literature and are familiar with those literary terms. I studied two subjects as a part of the language programme – British and American Literature and have been fascinated by the narrative techniques such as Stream of Consciousness, Internal Monologue, Free Indirect Speech, Indirect Speech, and third-person narrative. Good to test out some of them. You’re right, I’m very honest in the posts I’ve written. But at the same time, I’m a very private person (have found out that I’m actually an introvert) These two things kind of contradict each other when I write stories based on my own experiences. It’s not always easy to reveal the true feelings, the vulnerability and uncertainty. Third-person narrative is a way to distance myself from the character in the story. So good to hear that you like the posts. Thank you. Take care 😊

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      1. Introvert vs. Extravert
        As I took it, it’s all about what gives us energy and what drains our energy. Introverts get energised by being alone. Extraverts — by being in a society with other people. When this definition is true, I’m the second one, Isabelle! 😉
        But as always, we are mixes of both, with one side being dominant in most of situations.
        I think, Ethan enjoys reading too, because he appears to be a pretty reflective person too. 🙂
        Take care,
        Cat

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  3. Lovely story! Very emotional and true! I think, that finding your feet in a foreign place must be difficult especially when your language ability is low to communicate with locals. Then someone appears unexpectedly, gives you some kind word, cheers up and that might be stuck in your mind forever.

    best
    Agnes

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    1. Thank you Agnes! Experience of this kind did have a great impact on my life in the early years. The warmth, compassion and understanding I received was invaluable. But I was too young to cherish it fully. The job, or more precisely, money was considered as more important than the precious things I received. I wasn’t flawless when I was young, certainly not when I’m a grown-up either. Thank you, Agnes! Good to make some reflections 😊

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