He runs into Merkel at the bottom of the stairs.
It is January, and Merkel is visiting Malta.
She never shows surprise and always seems to expect things to happen and finds nothing overly dramatic.
No one manages to slip out of his or her normal role, and the conversation feels inhibited, until the talk turns to Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.
This would have been an open approach, but Merkel chose a closed approach instead.
He started talking, but his performance wasn't any better.