Once a year, cars need to get an inspection and car owners have to re-register their vehicles in Maine. I was disappointed when I learned that you have to do that once a year. What about all the crazy old cars America is so famous for? In Germany I had heard that cars don’t need an inspection at all in the US. And here I am doing it every year.
This time I also had to take care of some recalls. I called the car dealer where I purchased my car and we looked for a date. It turned out that they had to send me to a special garage for the recalls, but since that was close to work, I didn’t care. The lady on the phone prepared me that this would all take a half day. I just was getting annoyed because I didn’t want to take a day off for that and started wondering what I would do for a half day, waiting for my car, when the lady on the phone told me about their shuttle service.
You can tell that I am not used to the comfort of getting service from car dealerships.
So, that day, I drove to the car dealer’s garage, and waited for the shuttle service to my work after I had given my papers and car keys to the receptionist. A nice elderly guy came after I had waited three minutes and I followed him joyfully to his car. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this service. What a luxury that I didn’t have to take a day off or organize a taxi in order to get to work.
But then there he was: the first American that I have met since I live in the US who did not make small talk.
He asked me where I needed to be dropped off and then there was silence. I am so used to all these cheerful and talkative strangers around me that I started feeling uncomfortable after one minute already. After two minutes I couldn’t hold myself back and I started to small talk. But all I got back were very short answers. I asked him questions about his work life, the weather, traffic problems, the company he is working for, and what his vacation plans were. He answered all the questions briefly and then there was silence again – only interrupted by him humming a melody.
I was in shock when he dropped me off. But I had changed my mind when he picked me up at 4:30 pm again. I sat beside him, in silence, because I actually don’t like small talk at all. I enjoyed that this strange man didn’t ask me questions that I didn’t want to answer and that I didn’t have to perform my poor small talk skills.
I appreciate how Americans do their small talk. It’s just such a great door opener the way they do it, and I learned and I am still learning a lot from them. But, boy, it is actually really nice when I don’t have to do that at all.