Monday, July 2, 2012

The Alps Call My Name

I recall an embarrassing incident back in the Nineties, when I lived with my young family in a farm house in Inningen, a suburban town just south of Augsburg in Bavaria.  I had been working on my dissertation, taking the train into the city to work at the municipal archives.  I had always longed to hike up into the Alps, as I could see them outside my bedroom window.  I swear I could hear them calling my name one night, beckoning me to come and gaze at their splendor and trek upon their jagged peaks.  The voice became so loud and clear that I resolved to heed the call.  Taking with me only a flashlight and daypack I gave my wife a kiss, hugged my children, and made my way out into the cold night toward the voice.  As I ventured out about 200 yards in the direction of the Alps, I spotted an unshaven guy wearing a scruffy jean-jacket by the train tracks.  He was leaning up against a dumpster and offered me a cigarette as I passed by.  I was so embarrassed.  It turns out that he had been calling my name.  I thought I was following some kind of call of the wild and it ends up being some biker dude with an attitude.   All of a sudden the guy asked me: “Der, what do you really want in life?”  I had always coveted a managerial position at Pioneer Chicken, but somehow I knew he was getting at something else.  Nervously neglecting the question, I responded, “Who are you and how do you know my name?”  Before he had a chance to answer, I said exasperatingly, “Look.  Let’s pretend this incident never happened.”  Then I shamefully walked back to the house, leaving behind the dark figure by the train tracks and my dreams of an Alpine adventure.