This totally just happened. See the comments for hints on the German parts if you like.

I was enjoying a light snooze on a train ride back from Hannover home to Regensburg. From Göttingen to Würzburg there was a couple (Arbeitskollegen? BF/GF? Mann u. Frau? Schwer zu sagen…) sharing a four-seat table group with me on our ICE. I had been struggling with my work computer, trying to get my cellular modem to work, and fall behind in the daily battle against my inbox as little as possible on this trip. But in the end, fatigue won out — I never sleep well on business trips — and I zonked out a little.

I awoke rolling into Würzburg with the guy next to me saying “ja, es war immer komisch, mit ihm zu sprechen. Es war Deutsch, jedoch war es irgendwie anders.” And she said “ich bin froh, nicht mehr mit ihm sehr viel zu tun zu haben.” He nodded, “ja, Amerikaner, so egozentriert, wie sie sind.”

That’s where I piped up. “Was sind wir?”

“Oh, Entschuldigung!” he stammered, obviously surprised.

“Egozentriert war das, oder?” I clarified.

“Ja, hm, direkt halt, meine ich.” “Direct” and “egocentric” are not the same thing. I know this, and I am pretty sure he knew this, and I would have loved to rub his nose in his Zurückrudern, but I needed to change trains, so I kept it short.

“Verallgemeinerungen gibt es für wirklich jede Nationalität. Die Deutschen, zum Beispiel, wissen nicht, wer neben ihnen sitzt.” I grabbed my stuff off the rack above our seats and wished them a “Gute Weiterreise.