Many of you will know that one and a half ears ago I become the proud owner of one mighty fine pair of lederhosen. For those of you who are unfamiliar with lederhosen, I have stuck a picture of me in them next to this, from when I wore them to college on Thursday. Now, when I bought them, I only bought the lederhosen and the shirt, thus I was missing the hat, shoes and socks. So, every year when we go to Austria, I buy another piece.
Last year I bought a hat. Not just a hat mind. I also bought some feathers for my hat. Feathers that justify what I always say, that the Austrians are among the nicest people on Earth.
For a couple of days I had been searching for the perfect feathers, ones that would really complete the hat. All of my hope was fading, we were into the last couple of days on holiday and it seemed like I'd never find the right ones. Then it happened. I stumbled across a quaint little souvenir shop in Innsbruck, just down from the Golden Roof. It must have been the hundredth one I'd been in that day, and by comparison, they didn't really have many feathers at all. Alas, I was resigned to buying one from there, having exhausted all my other options.
I stood for a good 15 minutes, weighing up the pros and cons of each feather set. Some were too large, others small. Too colorful or too dull. Broken or too fake looking. After a considerable amount of time the shop owner, a lovely middle aged, blonde haired woman came over and asked if she could help. Having already found a series of feathers kind of like what I wanted I asked her if she had any more. In true Austrian spirit she was as helpful as she could have been, rummaging though her stock to find a selection of feathers like the ones I had described.
We narrowed it down to two, and whilst I was trying to choose, I apologized for the time it was taking, and followed it by complimenting her English. She grinned from ear to ear, and begun to tell me how she loved languages, particularly English. How she had studied it at school, how she had always wanted to visit the UK. I don't think I've ever made anyone as happy as I made her in that moment, she was talking for a good 10 minutes after that, I even tried a little German, I'm not sure what I said, but she laughed so it's all good! She concluded by telling me that for being so kind, I could take the feathers for five euros less than what she normally charges, bringing it down to one euro.
I don't think I'll forget that. Not ever. It sounds stupid and dull I know, but every year the Austrians demonstrate to me how they will never stop when it comes to being helpful, kind and generous. Those feathers will forever sit upon my hat: