Angela and me
By Jim Coogan
I was in Germany a week ago. While shopping in a little store off Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, I encountered Angela Merkel – literally bumped into her, actually. It wasn’t the first time Germany’s Chancellor and I had come together. A couple of years ago, while in Dresden waiting for a train connection to Prague, I’d noticed her standing on the opposite track platform. It was pretty much the same then. The most powerful woman in the world was still wearing an outfit that was Hillary Clinton, before there was Hillary Clinton. Maybe the color was a bit different but she had the same smile that I remembered from that earlier meeting. It struck me how coincidental it was that we’d meet again by pure happenstance, but there we were. The Chancellor seemed somewhat stiff and I sensed that her formality probably resulted from recognizing me as an American. We stand out like sore thumbs in Europe. I wondered if she was still angry about our National Security Agency tapping her phones a few years ago. Fortunately, I wasn’t wearing a MAGA hat. I knew how she felt about president Trump. Still, she gave no indication of being put off as I approached her. She just stood there. Other shoppers in the store seemed to have no interest in speaking with their leader and they laughed when I asked if someone would take a picture of the two of us – Angela and me. I’ll admit that the entire time our conversation was really one-sided but I knew that she was listening, because when the door to the store opened and a gust of wind came in, she leaned slightly forward as if to hear me better. As I moved to pay for my purchase, I tipped my hat and told her that I hoped her final two years as Chancellor would be good ones. I mentioned that our president was likely in his last two years as well. The two leaders would be going out of office together. As I waved good-bye, her eyes didn’t reveal anything but I did notice that her smile hadn’t changed.