September 27, 2020
For one of my Travel Writing assignments, I was prompted to recall a “Danish Encounter” that I have had had since arriving to Denmark. I figured this encounter was worth sharing, for it highlighted the general kindness I have experienced since I arrived.
Upon my arrival to Copenhagen, during one of the many orientations held in preparation for the cultural shift, I learned that “silence is fun” and to not disturb it unnecessarily. According to the presenter who introduced this idea, the obligation to speak to others stemmed from an innate need to make sure that one’s environment is safe, which often includes investigating other humans who also share this same space.
An older man of around fifty to sixty years, sat with his drink on a stool facing the window of Teatercaféen resting across the street from the Asylgade bus stop. He isn’t too involved with his drink, in fact, it sits on the counter as an afterthought. His gaze is on the window, or rather, the movement on the other side of it. The television set behind him doesn’t compare to the live action rolling and walking up and down Sankt Hans Gade. Haphazard grey locks cloth his skull and his dark eyes focused beyond the glass and over the miniature, white lace curtain which lines the counter, against the window. Whether he sported a mustache or had hairs in his nose, I could not tell, for a robin-egg blue medical mask veiled the rest of his face from me.
At first, when I stopped at the bus stop, I did not take notice of him. I scanned the bus schedule posted, in conjunction with the schedule on my phone, to make sure that I was on time and that the bus would arrive soon. I turned my back to him, and fastened my own taffy pink mask in preparation for the bus’ arrival. The moment I look up, our eyes connect and out of habit, I wave. During the orientation, there was never any mention of nonverbal forms of communication and to my surprise, the older man ever-so-slightly acknowledged me with a simple nod as he squinted his eyes and his brows crinkled in the middle. I didn’t want to appear as though I were staring into his soul, so I broke his gaze and watched for the bus. Seconds and minutes ticked by until a bright yellow vehicle with a display reading “207 Roskilde St”.
Quickly, I found my commuter pass in my DSB app on my phone and I prepared to board. Once I found my seat, one closest to the window facing my silent acquaintance, I squinted my eyes and crinkled my brow behind my mask and bid him farewell. This time, he waved back at me and his brow furrowed, wrinkling his forehead—it was a smile.