I was slightly caught off guard when Clause announced that he would be hosting three travelers that weekend. Myself, one girl from Germany, and one girl from Austria. I love meeting other people, but I think it was my overall fatigue from the non-stop traveling that left me somewhat unenthused.
They were very sweet though. The girl from Germany was in her early 20’s and the other in her late teens. I commend their sense of adventure. Not many women would be brave enough to travel alone at that age.
Even though Claus picked us up from the airport he had to leave for work. Copenhagen was the ninth stop on my European tour, so exhaustion was reaching its peak. Rather than being a tourist for the evening, I opted for Starbucks instead. The familiarity of the coffeehouse turned out to be rather comforting. Unnecessarily expensive, but comforting. The three of us agreed to regroup outside of a restaurant called Pizza House. From there we would walk the Christmas Market together.
It was bitterly cold and damp that night. Icicles practically hung from our noses and only the sound of chattering teeth echoed through our purple lips. The Austrian girl broke the silence in a sudden burst of laughter.
“I feel so terrible,” the she began insincerely. “I just realized we forgot to pay our bill at Pizza House.”
“We can go back if you’d like?” I replied, already inching back towards the restaurant.
“That’s okay. We are only two people, it won’t make a difference.”
“I feel a little bad as well,” Her friend stated nonchalantly . “Oh well.”
Despite insisting multiple times that it would not be a problem to turn around, they responded with bemused laughter.
Both girls left Denmark the next day. Without any malicious intent, I told Claus what had happened. A huge part of me felt guilty for not speaking up louder and I was curious to how he would have handled the situation.
“They left without paying?” Claus asked flabbergasted. “It’s a small pizzeria he’s working his ass off for no money whatsoever. I mean it’s a small mistake, everybody does it, but then I would go back and pay for it.”
He paused deep in thought.
“You have to have this trust, that’s the most important part of Denmark. This is not the mentality that we have here in Europe. If everyone thought like that and did like that, then there wouldn’t be this trust. It’s not about how we make mistakes, it’s about how we make it right. ”
I wasn’t proud for revealing their little secret, but I respected Claus’ reaction. Confrontation is something that I’ve always struggled with especially in scenarios where I feel outnumbered. The fear of rejection often sends me cowering into a dark abyss of silence. Unfortunately, silence doesn’t usually resolve anything, and more often than not, only makes matters worse.
I do regret not speaking up louder. Or, at the very least, going back and paying myself. Thankfully, thirty dollars probably wasn’t going to shut this pizzeria down but Claus was right, what would happen if we all thought like that?
Mistakes happen. They will always happen, but it isn’t about the mistakes we make, it’s how we amend them and make it right.