Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Up and away

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My travel started on Thursday – having to get up around 5 in the morning, sort out the remainders of my room (unplug stereo, roll up mattress) for the upcoming move and catch the first train to Frankfurt at 5:55.

At Frankfurt when checking in I experienced that they actually had extra 'security' which consisted of asking lots of silly questions. Not only the usual ones on whether I packed my luggage myself and whether anyone could have tempered with it but also those really hard trick questions used to catch those nasty terrorists off guard 'what's your final destination in the U.S.?' I find those questions not only ridiculous but also very hard to answer. Can I be really 100% sure that nobody could have tampered with my luggage. How can I know that the supposed chocolates my father gave me for my brother aren't actually little bombs? How can I resist the urge to say 'Can't you read' when people ask me for my final destination while holding my ticket? Those things do irritate me.

Beside those little irritations, people with American Airlines were really friendly and some of them even seemed to find the things they did ridiculous while making an effort to be 'professional' about it and doing their job. Once on board, I was surprised to see that the stewardesses were quite old (40-50). Quite a surprise, considering that it's a job where age and looks ought to play an important role. The plane had little TV screens with an amazingly bad picture quality on each seat. Unfortunately the films they showed were even worse than the quality of their display.

The first leg of my flight, to Dallas / Fort Worth, was quite long – at 10 hours or so. Flying at daytime made it a bit hard to get the sleep that I didn't get in the night before. The second meal they served us was the first nutrition related atrocity I experienced: A little 10cm pizza-like thing that was filled with about an inch of yucky cheese. I could feel my coronaries stiffen at the sight of that. Perhaps in a few years you can sue people for that kind of offering…

Once landed at Dallas and having gone through the wonderfully efficient process of having to pick up my luggage, clear customs – even declaring the chocolates and bread I brought for my brother as 'food' – and give up my luggage again, rather than clearing customs at my destination airport, I was technically in Texas. Err great. They had 'Don't mess with Texas' T-Shirt for sale. I was tempted for a millisecond, but I figured that this would just be a little too ironic to bear.

While I had once more enjoyed my dislike for Frankfurt airport before my departure, Dallas airport wasn't much better. In particular the fast food outlets they have every twenty metres or so, spreading the smell of rotten fat, weren't too pleasing. At this occasion I was also had the impression that everybody who works (selling fast food, driving little electric carts with overweight pensioners, shining shoes) was of some dark shade of skin colour. Reminded me a bit of South Africa. The other thing I saw was that the impression that the U.S. missed that whole mobile phone thing which I had got (from reading I guess), is very very wrong. People seemed to be on their phones from the moment the plane touched down. Additional observation: People seem to like those Star Trek type fold open phones and don't think it's embarrassing to use 'hands-free' accessories – both of the ear plug with a little wire (making people look silly when still holding their phone in one and making gestures with that) and the Borg gadget in the ear types.

My second flight should take me to San Diego. That took almost another three hours, making clear that I had (a) the wrong idea about the location of Dallas, (b) underestimated the size of Texas and (c) not cared for the time zones involved in my itinerary when looking at it (because I figured it didn't really matter as long as I managed to catch my plane in Frankfurt and my brother knew when to pick me up in San Diego.

Next: San Diego

March 12, 2004, 8:52

Tagged as travel.

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