What Color is Your Parachute – Story 3

As suggested by my uncle, I picked up a copy of the award-winning novel What Color is Your Parachute to help figure out what it is exactly I want for my life. The book is recommending that I write a series of seven stories in order to identify some of my own personal qualities. While it doesn’t suggest posting the works publicly, I thought it would be a great opportunity to post more content to this blog. Enjoy 🙂

Story 3: 

One of my first “real” jobs that I ever had was working at the desk of a retreat center. Working around a unique group of people (seriously, fate literally paired this band of, shall I say, men in black), my job was to answer the phone and to take, manage, and edit reservations to stay at the retreat center. In all honesty, I love(d) talking on the phone – at my other job I was forbidden to take phone calls because I was notorious for talking for 10+ minutes with whoever was on the other end. This particular job at the retreat center exposed me to a variety of people and cultures.

Though, sometimes, that cultural exposure is taken quite literally. It was a brilliant evening, but the moon was at maximum fullness. The director of the retreat center had a very firm belief that things always went wrong on nights of a full moon. While I may not be necessarily superstitious, usually he was right. One full moon night, I received a strange phone call from the university saying “We have a person on the other line who can only speak German. Can you speak it, or do you know of anyone else who can who is on campus?” Thinking quickly, I gave the name of my professor (who coincidentally lived on campus). Well, this professor must have not picked up because I received an additional call saying “He’s the person who needs help,” and the call transitioned to a woman who, in fact, only spoke German.

Let me be clear: I am not proficient by any means. Most the words from the other line were lost in a blur of me staring blankly at the computer in front of me thinking “oh my god.” With the limited language proficiency I had, I kindly (I hope) asked her to speak slowly and that I was not very good at speaking German. Well, I succeeded at that part because she spoke at a much slower pace, but I still felt like Bill Murray in Lost in Translation. I proceeded to translating whatever I could understand, and eventually succeeded in telling her something – god only knows what, though.

After multiple ‘thank yous’ from her end, our conversation ended and I felt that I owned the world (though still afraid I said something perverse). When my director came around later that evening, I shared with him my story and he burst out laughing. If I could do this, honestly, I could do anything, I figured. If anything, it showed just how much I cared about doing my job and serving the greater good, even if I could understand less than 25% of what I was doing or, in this case, saying.


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