Yesterday, hubby’s 14-year-old godson traveled by himself on the train from Delft to Amsterdam so we could watch the Tutankhamen Exhibition together. After that, it was the plan to drop him off at the train station in Schiphol airport so he could take the train back home.
At the airport, I suggested that we had a bite to eat first before he took the train so we went to a fastfood chain, very unhealthy but yummy to do once in a blue moon. As we lined up at the counter, I told the guys to order for me while I took care of finding us a table. I found one against a wall, and sat down beside a family of Chinese tourists.
Then an old man walked in our direction, tapping his white stick in front of him and banged it against the legs of the chairs of the Chinese party. They looked up startled but continued eating. The old man was also surprised that he had hit a barrier and asked in Dutch if they knew where he could get coffee.
One of the men pointed to his right and then all continued eating and picked up their conversation. So I stood up, went to the man and then hooked my arm around his, led him in the right direction while talking to him. He was quite relaxed and just followed my lead.
At that point, I was thinking, “Wow! Such trust and such courage!” We kept chatting until we ended up behind hubby and the boy. I said, “Please add two cups of coffee.” Upon hearing my voice, hubby turned around and saw me with this stranger with his white walking stick. His indulgent look said something like, “And who or what have you brought me this time?”
While waiting to get served, I asked the old man what he was doing in the Netherlands since judging from his accent, I realized that he wasn’t a local. He told me that he was in the country for a chess tournament. I said, “Oh like Kasparov.” He laughed and told me that he was an amateur but if he were Kasparov, he would have given me his autograph. He said, “I’m Bernard, but not Bernard Shaw. If I were, I would also give you that autograph.”
We chatted with him and learned that he was from Flanders, the French part. He and his friend Olivier had an hour to wait for their train so they thought of getting some coffee. He asked me to bring him back where I found him because Olivier was seated somewhere there.
While my boys looked for a table for us, I hooked my arm around Bernard’s again and with one hand carried his tray with two cups of coffee. While walking towards the place where I found him, he shouted, “Olivier. Olivier. Where are you?” I heard a voice behind a short partition shouting back, “Here, Bernard. Here.”
I wouldn’t have missed Olivier because he was seated there with very dark glasses on and a folded white walking stick on the table in front of him. So I reunited the two, sat Bernard down, put the tray down, and said to Olivier, “A pity you are not Laurence Olivier, otherwise I would have asked you for an autograph too.”