Mostly, it was a travel day like any other travel day. A few tidbits:
I’m finally reading “All the President’s Men.” I have an old paperback edition, and when I opened it on the plane I was reminded how much I love the smell of old paperbacks. It’s that odd sort of sweet and fragile smell of old low-quality paper; not quite musty, but probably in the same category of smells you associate with good memories as your grandmother’s attic. I wonder if I enjoy smelling the book more than I enjoy reading it.
Thoughts on post 9-11 travel – For awhile, there were security measures everyone knew and no one questioned. One of them was that no one would agree to watch a stranger’s bags. Another was that no one – not even first class – got metal knives with their in-flight meals. We’re nearing the four year anniversary – only four years – and both of those things have, apparently, gone out the window. At the Newark airport a woman near where I was sitting was frantic because she’d agreed to watch the bags of a woman she didn’t know, and it’d been at least 20 minutes since that woman left. The two airport officials she spoke with both said the same thing – “I’m sure she’ll be back any minute. If she’s not back in 15 more minutes we’ll take the bags to the lost and found. But I wouldn’t worry about it.” Don’t worry about it? Isn’t that what they’re supposed to do? And then on the second flight with my meal I received metal utensils – including a metal knife. I suppose I should’ve expected this at some point – people feeling “inconvenienced” by certain security measures so that airlines (being service-oriented) revert back to the pre-9/11 days – but I never thought it’d be so soon. We Americans just don’t seem to be that good at learning from history.
Talk about an easy arrival – Alex, one of the drivers for Chris’ company for the week, was waiting for me at the airport. Very nice guy, gave me a mini-tour on the way back to the hotel. The folks at the hotel adored Chris this week – they were sad we’d made arrangements to stay at a different hotel when we got back to Berlin, so they offered us a rate that was nearly half of our other hotel (and this place is much nicer) and cancel our other reservation for us. I found out when we returned to Berlin that the gal at our hotel had to resort to telling the other hotel we couldn’t come because we were in New Orleans before she was allowed to cancel the initial reservation... Probably not the most responsible thing to do, but hey - it got us into the hotel we wanted to be in! (And I didn’t have to be the irresponsible one, so...)
En route to Munich, everything seemed to be fine – until I realize we’re in the wrong seats. It was one of those 4-seat groups that face each other and there’s a table between us. I think the people next to us were supposed be next to the window, and instead we accidentally thought we were. They didn’t say anything when they sat down – I hoped it was just because they were nice and it wasn’t a big deal, as opposed to them chalking it up to more bad behavior on the part of Americans. But I didn’t have my hopes up.