A very special holiday on my own unfortunately met with my this year`s experience of shingles. I started last Sunday and still felt rather sick. Because this trip had been planned a long time ago – with a flight and a place to stay all booked in advance – I didn`t feel the freedom to cancel last minute. So I went for it and hoped for the best. Hannover airport, check-in, luggage and the security check. I handed my ID over to a friendly but distanced looking police officer. Never once he glanced my way. So what. This was followed by an unspectacular flight from Hannover to London Heathrow – this overwhelmingly huge airport I had heard so much about but hadn`t been to in almost 30 years. Walking off the plane, walking on and on and on and finally queuing for my ID check. The man there took my ID, looked into my eyes, and said: „And you? You are traveling alone? That`s sad!“ And although I had chosen this kind of journey – alone, by plane and train and into the „Southern-English-Nowhere“: at this particular moment I felt mostly sick and tired and sad (fortunately not knowing yet, that this day would somehow stretch much further into a very long journey indeed). And this friendly man made me feel seen – and in a way not that alone anymore.
I must have looked as knackered and lost as I felt, so he asked me where I wanted to go from here. I told him that I needed to take a tube and the train to Southern England. And he put away my ID for a moment, took out an Oyster card (something I had heard about), and said: „My dear, you first get your luggage, than you go down and get yourself one of those and take the tube. There will be people helping you. Have a nice stay.“
I won`t forget his compassion and especially the time he took for meeting me with interest and encouragement. His job was to check the IDs of so many people before and after me, but still he made time for a short, but very personal encounter. Perhaps this was very „un-British“, but it was just what I needed!