Traveling from Tuscany, Italy to Oslo, Norway on Thursday was a fun lesson in latitude for all of us. The same sun shined on both, but the resulting temperature at the ground level was quite different. We left 95-degree sunshine, and landed in 60-degree sunshine. Packing lightly for our three-week trip did not consider these extremes for July! The biggest difference was that in Norway, the sun shines until 11pm! And rises again at 3am, which I guess is normal this week after the longest day of the year.
Friday, we took a cab to the Viking Museum, and were amazed by the size of the boats, and the intricacy with which they were decorated. We bought appropriate souvenirs: rain ponchos. Thursday’s sunshine was only internal now. The Brady Bunch walked to the “Taxi stand” to wait – following the directions of the cab driver who had dropped us hours before.
We soon learned that the sign which read “Taxi” was really where taxi drivers drove by and waved to the family of 6 standing in the rain.
After twenty minutes, Chris approached a cab who stopped, and the driver explained he was picking up someone else. “Would you please call one of your partners for us?” Chris asked as rain poured from his poncho onto his face. The man agreed, and we went back to obediently waiting under the promising sign.
Another twenty minutes and the kids were getting giddy and putting up thumbs for hitch-hiking. I had started jumping jacks to keep warm, but tucked my hands and Italian leather purse inside of the poncho, wishing I had thought to buy two.
We have discovered that Norwegians speak better English than anyone we know who has it as a second language. It really has made it easy for us. However, they don’t write English on much, so signs are almost impossible. I had bought a bottle of hair spray, but then I got worried that I was spraying deodorant or bug spray on my head before meeting our business partners here. The written instructions regarding public transportation were similarly foreign, but I caught a number off of a car: 02323. I picked up my iPhone and dialed. A recording answered and said something like, “I am kiking yur but” but I am sure that is not what it meant. I hung up and dialed again several times, but the same message repeated.
By now, an hour had passed and Chris was ready to hire the next person who walked into the parking lot to retrieve his personal car.
I decided to ask for help. There was a flower shop on the corner, and I waited until all of the customers had been helped before asking the lady at the register. “How can we get a taxi to stop at the taxi sign?”
“Oh? You have 6 people? You need a maxi taxi,” she said in perfect English. “Let me call for you; it would be too expensive from your phone.”
She then promptly called the cab company (I watched her dial 02323), waited on hold 10 minutes, (I imagined the recording saying, “I am kiking yur but,” which probably translated, “Please hold on, we will be with you in a moment.”) while I stood and admired her store.
Finally, she handed me a piece of paper with a confirmation number and told me the cab would be there momentarily.
I thanked her profusely and she said, “No problem. I know you would have done the same for me if I were in your comfort.”
It was so true! Why do I hesitate to ask for help, when I absolutely would help someone if they were “in my comfort”–if only I would open my eyes more often to take note of someone’s “comfort”?
And Jesus said, “What you have done for the least of these, my brethren, you have done for me.” (Matthew 25:40)