There are many ways that people express their thanks to Debian: mails, nice comments in a bug report, patches, so on. But to receive them in person is one of the most pleasing ones.
I recently visited Bologna at the invitation of another DD (hi Guido!). The trip was nice, my first trip to this city, and a significant part of it was devoted to the local food (of course!). One evening, after a late dinner which included an absolutely fantastic Mascarpone desert, as we were paying at the cashier, one of the guys from the restaurant came forward and shook my hand while telling me something. I was tired and the few Italian I know didn’t help at all, so I was at a loss on what’s happening.
Now, if you’ve ever been in a foreign country without knowing the language, you know this feeling: there is something strange going on, people are talking in a language you don’t understand, and you might have just made a very big social mistake without realising it. Or it’s just a silly, harmless misunderstanding. The only question is whether staying silent and just smiling is the right thing to do. In other words, you’re at a complete loss.
This all happens usually in just one or two seconds, before someone (if anyone, that is) manages to translate for you. In this particular case, the translation initially didn’t make any sense at all: “It’s your t-shirt”; I usually wear t-shirts, and people never congratulate me for it. Then I realised: I was wearing one of my Debian t-shirts. My companions told him that I’m indeed involved with Debian, and he was extending his thanks.
So, from a bolognese fan whose name I unfortunately didn’t catch, to the Debian Project: thanks!