I like history, I always have (in college I found that it’s an interest but not a profession). Because of my interest in history, I take advantage of historical museums whenever I can. When I was in Frankfurt, Germany I read that they had a Natural History Museum. Unfortunately, I was the only one in my family who had any interest in going to said museum.
Not a problem, says I, just drop me off and pick me up in a few hours.
Let’s go over that last statement once more, but this time though the magic of hindsight. “Just drop me off in the middle of a city in another country where I don’t speak the language and come back for me at an unspecified time.” I’m almost ashamed to say that I was eighteen at the time.
My parents, remember that these people were my legal guardians, not only agreed with this, but thought it was a great chance for them to see the city without having to worry about entertaining me. It was roughly eleven in the morning when I was dropped off at the museum. If I knew any German, I would have also known that the museum closed at three. That’ll be important later.
It was only about two minutes after I was alone that I realized that this might not have been the best idea. So I didn’t know how much it cost to get into the museum, big deal. I did what all Americans do when confronted with a language and currency issue. I spoke louder and just placed all of my money on the counter, and sure enough, the woman behind the counter took (I assume, as I never found out for sure) the correct amount needed to gain entrance to this fine Historical Institution.
It was a very small museum, I walked the entire thing in about half an hour, and all of the displays were in (surprise!) German. Besides the four clerks, the gift shop woman, and the front counter woman, I was the only person in the museum.
I just kept walking around until at about two thirty the intercom system said something in German. Then I head it again at two forty five. Then at about five minutes to three. Then I heard a message at three. I didn’t know what they were saying, I thought that they were paging someone. It wasn’t until security guard found me that I realized that the museum was closed. Needless to say he didn’t speak English. Despite the language barrier, he was rather pleasant, and just escorted me to the front doors and locked them behind me.
So there I was in Frankfurt. I didn’t see my parents. I didn’t have much money, just some coins. I didn’t speak German. It was getting cold. I decided that I couldn’t just stand there, so I began to walk. There was a university near by, and with nothing else to do, I went there. I just acted like I was supposed to be there, nobody spoke to me, and I didn’t say anything. I sat in on a lecture (I still don’t know what it was about). The class ended at about five, and I just wondered around for about half an hour, ending up in the cafeteria. I bought a hot chocolate and a pretzel, and began the walk back to the museum.
I filled the next two hours until my parents arrived by singing and whistling theme songs to American TV shows. As I got into the car my mother asked me if I had been waiting long.
I just stared at her for about ten seconds and then I said, “no.”