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And What Happens When You Assume? Part 2

, , | Right | November 5, 2022

In the spring of 1995, the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II, I worked in a bookstore, and we were drenched — FLOODED — with books about Norway and the war. Mostly it was about the resistance work and glorified local history.

Right before the eighth of May, I was working, and an old man with a grumpy countenance entered the store. My more experienced colleagues got mysteriously busy or scarce when they saw him, but I greeted him politely.

Me: “Can I be of any assistance?”

Customer: *Barking* “I want to see your books about The War!”

I showed him our table with a vast amount of books on display. He busied himself, looking at the books and grunting and exclaiming to himself. I hovered nearby, ready to be of assistance.

After a small eternity, he shut a book with a loud crack, making me jump. He looked me over and exclaimed:

Customer: “You don’t know how lucky you are, young man, to have grown up in peace and to never have experienced war!”

I nibbled on the bait by replying:

Me: “Oh, I have an idea about what it’s like, actually.”

This led to a guffaw and a condescending reply.

Customer: “Oh, I’m sure you’ve read about it, but you’ll never know the horror of living in a country at war!”

Me: “Actually, sir, I came back from a year as a UN soldier in Bosnia about six months ago, so…”

He shrunk, squeaked out a timid, “Oh!”, and practically ran out the door. My colleagues burst out laughing.

It turns out this guy, an insufferable braggart, had elevated himself to the position of Local Resistance Hero. He’d joined the resistance movement in January 1945, and his contribution to the war effort? Hiding a shotgun from the Germans. This action made him the local hero. He arranged guided tours to the Shotgun Hiding Spot and went to schools to talk about his experiences at length.

He pointedly avoided me after that.

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