It’s a Small World

It’s a small world, exhibit A:

A few days ago, I stopped at the local Aldi store after school to pick up some groceries. The lady at the cash register was not one of the usual employees. As I waited in line, I glanced at her nametag and thought, “I know that name from somewhere.”

So as I waited for the lady to scan the purchases of the person ahead of me, I wrecked my brain trying to remember where I knew the cashier’s rather unusual surname from and whether she is someone I should know and remember. As she started scanning my purchases, it finally hit me. A lady of that same surname used to take care of my invalid grandmother some twenty-five years before.

I looked at the cashier and her face did not ring a bell. But the age definitely fit. So I asked her, “Excuse me, but did you by any chance work as a geriatric nurse about twenty-five years ago?”

The cashier gives me a very strange look and says, “Yes, a long time ago.”

“I think you took care of my grandma”, I said, “Mrs. Buhlert. She lived in Huchting and had only one leg.”

“Oh yes, Mrs Buhlert. Yes, I remember her”, the cashier said, “And you’re her granddaughter? Do you live here now?”

We chatted a bit, while she scanned my groceries, and I asked her about her daughter. She seemed surprised that I knew she had a daughter, but I remembered because the daughter had been about my age at the time.

So I ran into my grandmother’s nurse at the cash register of the local Aldi mart. Small world indeed. Still, at least I have something to tell at my aunt’s birthday next month. My aunt knew the nurse better than we did, because she was the one who hired her.

It’s a small world, exhibit B:

Yesterday, I was at my parents’ after school. I’d bought some cake at the bakery next to the school and now my Mom and I were eating the cake and drinking tea. I talked about school and also mentioned a few students by name.

Suddenly, my Mom gets this weird expression on her face and says, “What was the name of that girl again?”

Now the girl in question has a very unusual first name. So I repeated the name and said, “No idea how she came by that name. She’s not from an immigrant family.”

“I think that girl is the granddaughter of my friend E.”, my Mom said, “All her grandchildren have these very unusual names and I think the youngest was named like your student.”

E. and my Mom used to work at the same insurance company in the 1960s and stayed in touch afterwards. They write each other Christmas cards and telephone a few times per year and maybe meet in person once a year or so. I’ve met E., though I wouldn’t recognize her on the street if I saw her. I do know that E. now lives near my school, because my Mom always refers to the school as being located “in the neighbourhood where E. lives”.

“Huh”, I said, “Does E.’s daughter live near the school as well then?” My Mom didn’t know much about E.’s daughter or her family except that the children all had unusual names. “This one is the baby of the family”, she said.

“Well, the ‘baby’ is fourteen”, I said, “But she told me she had two older siblings, so that fits.”

Next time I catch the girl in question alone, I’m going to ask her if she has a grandmother named E.

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