I had trouble finding a seat on the train because lots of them were reserved for people who paid extra to guarantee themselves a place to sit. Finally I found an empty seat in a compartment with a middle-aged woman and a guy in his twenties. Upon second glance, the guy in his twenties was dressed in all black and looked like he needed a shower. At the next stop, the woman got off the train and I was left alone with Mr. Gothic. I slid over to the window seat, cranked up my volume, and was just drifting off into thought when I was interrupted by a, "Und wo fährst du denn hin?" It was the guy, asking me where I was going. I politely made small talk with him for a few minutes before it emerged that I was from America. He immediately wanted to practice his English, and started off with a strong, "Ehm, so, what are your hobbies?" I listed singing, guitar, and reading, and then politely asked him what his were. To my utmost dismay, his response was, "World of Warcraft, do you know it?"
Uh-oh. Red flag. Okay, more like a hundred red flags. As I answered that I was not a fellow WOW player, he seemed surprised. I wondered to myself, am I dressed wrong today? What could I possibly have done to imply that playing that game was a hobby of mine? The answer is nothing. But it didn't matter. For the next four hours, I listened to Stephan tell me about his love of online gaming and inwardly bemoaned my ill luck. At the end of the ride, he gave me his phone number in the hopes that I would call him with my return train information. Then we could talk for another four hours on the way back! Never mind that I had said about five words since the hobby conversation got started.
Needless to say, I didn't call my new friend on Wednesday, but I did go to the train station terrified that I would run into him. Fortunately I did not, and I'm pleased to report that I had a relaxing ride back to Tübingen. Normally I might have been annoyed by the businessman who talked loudly on his phone all the way to Frankfurt, but hey, he wasn't talking to me. I turned up my volume, leaned my head against the window, and smiled to be back in Germany, riding through vineyards and winding around rivers as I made my way back to my new home.