Monday, October 12, 2009

Back to the salt mine

posted Wed, 29 Sep 2004

Yes, I am back at work. My mom asked why I wasn’t at home, recovering from the trip. I told her that as long as I was going to be tired and feel yucky, I might as well be at work. Why waste a vacation day when I don’t feel well?

The French are just as bad. That is my image of the French character: A man lighting up in front of a no smoking sign. No one is going to tell THEM what to do. Liberte, equalite, fraternite. And fume.

My flight home was uneventful. This is a good thing. I don’t like events in airports or on airplanes.

Jenny and I parted ways before even checking our luggage, although we later ran into each other at our gates. I had to go through a line specifically for passengers traveling to the US or Israel. Access beyond the checkpoint was allowed only with a passport and boarding pass. The guard was a big, burly soldier. I held my passport out to him – and he waved me past, not even looking at me. I guess I don’t look like the suspicious type. Maybe the Italians, who have been fighting terrorism for decades, have learned that profiling works. This is good news if you are not an Arabic man under the age of 50. Let’s give it a shot here.

In the line to the gates, I noticed an American guy wearing shorts and unlaced tennis shoes – no socks. Lovely. I pitied the poor person who would be sitting next to this guy on the plane. I’m sure his plan was to remove those shoes as soon as possible.

In the ladies’ room near my gate, there was a “no smoking” sign. There is nothing like a “no smoking” sign in Italy to give people the urge to smoke. Every time I encountered such a sign, I would also smell stale cigarette smoke.

The flight departing from the gate next to mine was going to Tel Aviv. There were a bunch of orthodox Jews boarding the flight. I looked at the women and thought about how the major religions want the women to cover themselves so as not to incite the lust of men. When are men supposed to be responsible for controlling their own actions?

One thing I really liked in Rome was seeing men in business suits. There is none of this business casual nonsense in Italy as far as I could tell. Work is serious business and serious business requires the appropriate clothing. Men in Rome wear suits and they look great. I can’t say I like the apparent trend toward not pulling the knot in the tie tight, though. It just looks sloppy.

Back to the plane. We had our requisite crying, fussy child the entire flight. I understand that infants are not old enough to control their own behavior and I understand that toddlers and young children do not do well when they are tired and their schedules are disrupted. But I have been on planes with young children who are splendid, so I know it can be done.

You can tell the difference between pain, hunger and tired crying and annoyed or bored crying. It is the annoyed or bored crying that bothers me more because that is crying that could be prevented. Parents: do your job and teach your child not to be obnoxious in public when it is possible to prevent it. If you can’t train your child properly, then drug him. A little cough syrup and the kid will sleep the whole flight. The rest of us do not deserve to be tortured.

When we were deplaning after I arrived in M’town, a woman ahead of me asked a man to help her get her suitcase down from the overhead storage bin. The man was holding the hand of his young child so only had one hand free to help the woman. He pulled the bag out as much as he could with one hand, but then it fell to the floor because she couldn’t catch it. She snapped at him, “I asked you to help me because I can’t lift anything because I am pregnant!”

At first, I thought the guy had been a jerk. But when I thought about it, I decided the woman could have handled it better. First, why did she ask someone who had only one hand free to help her? It’s not like he was the only man on the plane. Second, if she can’t be lifting heavy things, then why didn’t she just check the bag? She appeared to be one of those women who thinks that just because she is pregnant, the world is supposed to stop and do everything for her. Not all pregnant women are like that, but there are enough that they give the others a bad name.

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