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Issue 7/2011, April 22 2011 (No. 326)

An Encounter With A Modest Man


        
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THE DAILY GROOVE
ISSUE 007-11:
AN ENCOUNTER WITH A MODEST MAN IN BREMEN


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apartment blocks at the border between  the district Schwachhausen and the Hulsberg quarter
Apartment blocks at the border between the district Schwachhausen and the Hulsberg quarter

I often bike around a part of the Bremen district Schwachhausen, where are a lot of large townhouses and sprawling urban villas. Many affluent families live there. Riding my bike I now and then say 'Hello doctor' or 'Good day professor' to a well-dressed lady or a well-clad gentleman whom I totally don't know. I mostly raise a friendly smile, a gracious nod or (rarely) frosty contempt, but pretty much never any contradiction.
 
I sometimes also continue this social field experiment, when, after leaving that district, I get to an area, where bare apartment blocks predominate. Chance sometimes brings it about that, in a course of several days, I say 'Hello' to the same person in this way. But, in such a case, I recently met with strong opposition. A simply dressed man with graying hair and beard shouted back with a somewhat harsh Slav accent 'You don't know me. I am not a doctor.'
 
I stopped and asked him 'How should I adress you, perhaps as an engineer? After a very short momnent of shock he replied, already less angrily 'It's true, I am an engineer, but it's enough, when you say 'Hello' or ride past without saying 'Hello'. The fact, that I am an engineer, is only important for my professional status. But also at work you needn't adress me as an engineer. It's enough, when my business card says it.
 
After a brief respite, I said 'Well, I am Mr. Frey.' 'I am Mr. S.' my counterpart replied. A little bit displeasure flared on his face for a moment again and he continued to talk to me saying 'But you needn't to address me at all and certainly not as 'doctor'. However, that's also a little bit derision. 'No,' I countered him 'If I hadn't done it, you would never have told me something about humility.' A brief smile lit up his face 'Humility is the most important thing at all.'

Please also read -
Charlie Dittmeier's report on Sambath, a young man who survived the Pol Pot regime and then fled to the United States, returned to his birth country as a new PhD in biology. The report is dated 5 September 2001. The link leads to the latest entry of the diary. Please scroll down..

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Next issue 'The Daily Groove'
Friday, May 13 2011.

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