There was a long line at the ticket office at the Midi railroad station in Brussels when we arrived this morning from the airport by bus. A wonderful lady named Katie was trying to help guests in the busy ticket office with questions to save the wait for some, including us. We were trying to go to Bruge for the day, but there was a surprising language barrier between us and several information and ticket office staffers.
Katie, who left New Orleans eight years ago, was brought up with French Creole/Cajun language. She explained that English is the fourth language in Belgium, after French, then Dutch, then German. Her explanation included a detailed discussion of the history of Belgium and its geography. To improve her job prospects, she studied Dutch and now is fluent.
The wonderful thing about Katie, she appeared in our lives after the lack of hospitality in Budapest (something our taxi driver tonight in Brussels volunteered about his own experiences there).
She left the ticket office in yet another gigantic train station, took us to the departure board and then took us upstairs to the platform where the train was leaving and made sure we got on the correct train. While waiting for our train, she shared lots of tourism information and tips as well as more knowledge of US politics than many Americans have.
She was an old friend by the time we departed with hugs. And she would have considered coming from Antwerp tomorrow with her husband to be our guests for dinner here in Brussels, except tomorrow she will be part of the shutdown of rail service in northern Europe, and has no way to get here. And, we are at least with her, because she simply is not being paid enough, whatever her pay, to provide the best warm personal customer service we have ever received anywhere.