It’s been 7 weeks since we left the US, so B and I were discussing what has made the biggest impression on our trip so far. The incident which most impacted B is an unexpected one.
We were in Copenhagen, traipsing to see the Little Mermaid statue. We had exited the bus in a residential neighborhood and wandered through it, passing only a few people along the way. It was a weekday, and the area clearly didn’t get many tourists. We passed apartments and a school, some bikes and a bit of street art. We walked by a former train station, which was fairly ornate and housed some kind of private business, we thought. Up ahead, we saw the bridge over the current train yard, which we would have to cross to reach the Mermaid.
We were on the opposite side of the road from the bridge, so we walked to the crosswalk, which had the standard Danish signal. The exact crosswalk is in this photo I borrowed from Google Maps. We crossed the bike lane, and we waited for a second at the center area, looking left and right. Across from us, waiting on the other side, was a woman and her granddaughter, who looked to be about 5 years old.
Having ascertained that no cars were visible or even audible anywhere near the intersection, we crossed the small street, heading to the bridge on the right. Seeing us fail to wait for the pedestrian green light, the woman immediately gave us a dirty look and clearly said, ‘Tfu tfu,’ in the way you would chastise a disobedient dog. What were we doing, setting a bad example for her granddaughter? Waiting was the only acceptable course of action, and we had just failed to follow the rules.
Now, the Danish are rule followers, and I can certainly understand the desire to teach children to do right. In much of Europe, it is still acceptable to correct someone else’s misbehaving child, so how could a child be expected to follow our guidance if we couldn’t manage to do the right thing? However, we have a limited number of days, and I’m not keen on spending several of them waiting at crosswalks, so I don’t feel bad.
B, on the other hand, thinks of her rebuke often. He will quote her each time we cross the street without waiting for the light change – and given that we spend a lot of time walking around towns, this is quite often. I think the thing that made the deepest impression was the need to set a good example for others. It seems that he’s not willing to waste his own beans (click the link above if that doesn’t make sense), but he considers them well-spent when on behalf of someone else. Clearly a sign that he is a better person than I. But we knew that already.