831 words on Travel
People keep saying that I’m pessimistic and in a constantly bad mood while I prefer to think that other people are overly optimistic or even hysterical. So the same situations may lead to vastly different judgements depending on who’s seeing them. When reading the same text, other people like to stress the bright and positive sides of it. While I may prefer to find the weaknesses and contradictions. Once you start discussing issues with people, you usually find that your opinions may not differ as much as they seem.
Unfortunately those hysterically optimistic people dominate the world. What you read in the papers tends to be in the extremes. Films are great, nations are broke and the big floods will be here really soon. No room for all the presuppositions made to arrive at that point. Many of which may worth questioning or downright questionable.
So while, on a scale from one to ten, other people will mostly take their pick between seven and ten… and the more misanthropic ones may also include a few select ratings of one or two, I prefer to use the ratings between zero and five on that scale… which is exactly the reason why any scale that’s more complex than negative - neutral - positive will need normalisation, but that’s not really my topic here.
While indulging in my big helping of cheap travel today, with all the railway bits having worked out smoothly I had half an hour to kill in Lübeck before the bus to the airport left. While I love eating nice food, I tend to forget to eat when I’m busy or there is no attractive food around. So I forced myself to eat a sausage at the station. Hmmm, not very nice. But that wasn’t the worst. The place I bought it in may have been. Even by other people’s standards.
It was a kind of eat-in take-away. I.e. a place with take-away type food, sausages, burgers and stuff but with proper plates to eat from and real knives and forks. I couldn’t help but notice that the only other people in the place seemed to be co-workers or friends of the guy running it who were having a great Friday night sitting there, drinking beer, smoking and playing games on their mobile phones. Unfortunately they weren’t sixteen but rather fourty. The guy serving the food was smoking and drinking as well.
Not that I mind that per se. Quite the contrary. In fact ever since watching I Kina Spiser de Hunde, I have had the urge to first learn smoking and then cook a nice and warming meal (spaghetti carbonara to be precise) while smoking a cigarette. It sounds wrong but it seems so right.
But this encouter made clear that it’s not the smoking that matters, but the people and the situation which make or break the event’s coolness. This wasn’t cool, the food was greasy, I felt a bit sick afterwards and the yucky grease taste remained in my mouth for a while. Ho-hum. I even had to eat quickly to not miss the bus. But at least there was proper crockery. Riding across Lübeck in the bus I came past some shopping streets. As I had a seat facing the side windows I could see all shops go by. With a camera that would’ve been great to capture the varying level of typographical badness exhibited by shops. From uninspired but relatively solid designs by large chains, to dreadfully ‘individualistic’ offerings by really small places to those that were stylish – back in the early 1990s. Not too positive… again.
And then I could enter the world of low cost flying at Lübeck airport. A really small airport, holding not more than a single plane most of the time. While it’s apparently planned to enlarge the airport, planes park parallel to the terminal building right now – meaning they don’t need those trucks to push the planes around. In one room, Ryanair managed to put their ads all over the walls. Just like wallpaper. Impressive and looking cheap.
While on the plane – a modern 737, which remains my least favourite plane as they look a bit overweight and seem to need much longer to take off than other, larger, planes – I was once more amazed how new and clean the planes look. Possibly because of good light. Because a few chewing gums were sticking around and suggested that cleaning can’t be overly thorough. Probably some sociologists have already written a paper how the price of travel influences the behaviour of travellers.
Arrived safely… went to a party… in a house that looked strangely familiar because so many houses in England have the same layout… and forgot my towel at home. Which nobody really considers a problem and which is probably a good thing as carrying damp towels around just isn’t clever or fun… but it’s still some item I regularly forget to pack.
Where is Ford Prefect when you need him for a towel reminder?
In some countries, if you told this story to a Medical Doctor, you would be given a free sample of Selective Serotonin ReUptake Inhibitor. Choose your poison, Paxil or whatever.