Gratitude at Netto
I am writing this while studying abroad as a first-year student at Wake Forest. Some may see this as a story about a trivial act of ordinary politeness, but I think it shows the common good in people that exists no matter where you are in the world.
In Copenhagen, I share an apartment with several other students, and we have a cleaning schedule that rotates by room number. It was my room’s responsibility to clean one of the first weeks after we arrived in Denmark. Danes are very ecologically conscious, so part of our cleaning duties included taking the recycling bin to the local Netto a grocery store, part of a chain ubiquitous in Denmark.
The procedure is to recycle bottles by putting them into a recycling machine then printing out a receipt. That receipt is delivered to the cashier in exchange for money. Everyone in our apartment agreed to collect the money received from recycling to pay for general supplies. We understood the general idea, but instructions for operating the machine were in Danish. We were able to put our bottles into the machine but then it became confusing. As we were standing in front of this machine wanting to print a receipt, we had no idea which button to push.
A woman behind us in line saw our struggles. Most Danish people are very nice. Often, they will not approach you but, instead, wait to be asked for assistance. This woman pointed out to us, without us asking her for help, that we were about to push the button that would donate all of our recycling money. She told us that since we had recycled quite a few bottles and were going to receive a sizeable amount of Danish kroner, we would probably want to keep our money then showed us which button to push to keep our refund.
I believe this story shows that no matter where you go, there always kind people who will assist others when needed. Hers may seem like a small gesture, but I am very grateful that this kind stranger helped us without even making us ask.
Macclesfield, North Carolina