Apr 072011
 
Bridge across Rhine linking Kehl and Strasbourg

Ever engage in some action or interaction that brought you back to a time and place in your past?  Perhaps seeing your parents makes you feel like a little kid or seeing your high school sweetheart makes you feel like a teenager.  This whole experience makes me feel like college again.  And why not?  We are essentially doing away with all the trappings of past success and whatever modicum of respectability we may have earned in order to start fresh in an unknown place with a learning curve the size of a 4 year degree ahead of us!  In any case, here are David’s adventures so far.

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Once upon a time the internet was a series of picture-less tubes and David was account demon@ucscb….
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The airport was easy.  No one blinked an eye at his hefty supply of insulin needles or other diabetic necessities.  His huge pullman bag was over weight, but the staff took pity on him and didn’t make him pay for the discrepancy.  The 20 lb portable computer (could this be the heaviest “laptop” ever?) tugged at his shoulder and the Disney-swag backpack weighed down his steps.  But at this point the difference in his gait was imperceptible.   The adrenaline was flowing. 
Alas, no “cuddle class” for us.

The plane was a study in progressions.  The roomy first class seats were clearly not for him.  But the business class beckoned.  Alas, his seat was yet to come.  The cheap seats were 8 across.  2-4-2.  Nestled in the middle of the center row with little leg room to speak of, he was just thankful that his 3 row-mates were not especially large people.  The 10 hour 30 minute flight was pleasant enough.  He watched 3 movies and tried unsuccessfully to sleep.  The cabin pressure changed frequently, sending his ears into an uncomfortable lack of equilibrium.  

In London, of course, everyone spoke English.  But, the food was just as poor as you might expect.  They even managed to ruin eggs, he mused.  And he was unprepared for the transition of “bacon” into fatty ham.  3 hours in the airport before the next flight was ready to leave.

Lufthansa.  Still everyone spoke English.  1.5 hour quick hop to Frankfurt.  His luggage was late.  Very late.  Apparently the victim of his early arrival in London.  A lone woman waited with him but her bags never arrived.  She grew discouraged and left.  Then David’s single black pullman dropped unceremoniously down the carousel.  Next, on to the train!

He remembered a sign directing him to the long distance trains upstairs and followed his instincts.  Luckily they were good because English was becoming more rare.  It took him three tries to get his ticket information entered correctly.  He had already been traveling 15 hours by now.  His day had begun 23 hours ago.

The luggage delay had cost him the more direct route to Kehl.  He would need to make 2 transfers.  At one train he tried to embark at the 1rst class car and was redirected to the other end of the platform. Blocking commuters with the moving black obstacle of his luggage, he hurried all the way down past car after car.  He was unconvinced that he ever arrived at the proper area, but he did manage to hop on and get situated.  A woman requested assistance in English and was given the evil eye by an attendant.  David struggled through in German. A passenger told him jovially that his bag should have a seat of its own! 


Once he got to Kehl, he looked for his contact.  But, no one was there to meet him.  The area of the train station was a bit seedy at night, with only a few bars open in the vicinity.  He wandered into one and asked for a pay phone.  The hard-looking female barkeeper motioned him down the block, so off he went dragging the black Trifecta of Heaviness: the pullman, the backpack and the 20lb laptop.  

The next challenge was to get the phone to work.  It took credit and debit cards.  Just not his, apparently.  One credit card seemed to work at first, but then the phone shut down and wouldn’t come back.  He trudged back to the bar and somehow pantomime to the barkeep that he wanted coins.  She smiled when she finally understood.  Back to the phone.  But, now he needed to figure out which numbers to use.  The 12 digit number we had was apparently just for international calls.  Some trial and error let him realize he only needed the final 6.  


Vladimir pedaled over on his bike!  Luckily, he had not been awake for over a day.  So the younger, fresher man grabbed the pullman and off the two of them went.  Dinner was on Spellbound at a local pizzaria.  But, Vladimir’s housemate had nixed their original lodging plans.  Apparently he felt that their apartment was not yet fit for a guest of David’s stature.  “It is more like student housing” his would-be host explained.  David said that he hadn’t expected anything else.  They would put him in a hotel until Monday in order to give the two young gentlemen time to adjust (clean) their apartment into a state fitting so prominent at visitor.  

Vladimir and David wandered downtown Kehl a bit looking for the right hotel.  Once they found it, they got him signed in and settled.  They took the extra time to get the internet set up right away so David would be able to call his family and tell them of his day’s travels.  Then Vladimir took his leave and David kerplunked into the chair at his hotel desk and set up skype.  It was almost midnight and he was due to start work the next morning at 10.  He had been awake for nearly 30 hours.  Still, he wouldn’t be able to sleep properly until he had seen the faces of his wife and children and recounted his day’s adventures.  The internet is a wonderful thing!


  One Response to “The Demon has Landed”

  1. Yay! A nice ending to a looooong day.

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