Sunday, December 23, 2012

Clocked out

Have a great holiday, you guys: Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, the solstice, whatever you celebrate. I am taking a short break because 1. I am lazy and 2. I am tired. See you in a few weeks.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Marriage 501, Lecture 652: The right way or my way

You guys know that SH and I vary on our approach to problem solving. He is an optimizer and I am a satisficer. That is, I define in advance what I want and when I find the item that meets the criteria, I stop looking.

SH looks at every single option and then picks what he thinks is the best. Which is an agonizing process to witness. Have you ever tried to buy bacon or milk with an optimizer? It is torture.

This mindset extends to other types of problems. For example, you know the famous SH traffic jam story. We have to get to the airport to catch a plane and there is a traffic jam to get onto the freeway. Rather than seek an alternative route, as I am suggesting, because the immediate problem to be solved here is to get to the airport on time (although this might have been a case where SH was going to visit his parents, which means I don't care if he catches the plane or not, so my stress is reduced from when I, too, will be on the plane), SH wants to know why, why, WHY? is there a traffic jam on a Saturday morning.

I point out that it does not matter why there is a traffic jam. All that matters is getting to the airport on time. So let's take an alternative route.

No! Why is there a traffic jam? Why?

Now apply this way of thinking to a common household problem. As usual, there is a deadline. As usual, there are alternative routes to solving the problem. As usual, SH takes the hard way.

The situation is this: yesterday, when I was taking our new brick-red microflannel sheets off the bed so I could wash them and hopefully remove some of the white cat hair and gray chest hair that the sheets attract like moths to a flame, SH decided it was time to wash the pillow covers. Not the pillowcases, but the extra pillowcase-type thing you have on the pillow as an additional layer between your nighttime drool and your probably unwashable or very difficult to wash pillow.

In my house, we always just used an old pillowcase as the pillow cover, but a few years ago, SH found some fancy pillow covers that zip shut. Admittedly, they are easier to use than old pillowcases because it's easier to put the regular pillowcase on if you are not negotiating a second pillowcase.

However. The problem with zippers is that they will break.

My solution to the broken zippered pillow cover was to baste the cover onto the pillow. I wash the covers only two or three times a year, so it's not a big deal to cut the stitching, then re-sew it after laundering.

However. SH did not approve of that solution.

It was 2:50 p.m. We had to leave the house at 4:10 p.m. to get to the church Christmas concert on time (and to stop at the library on the way so I could return some overdue books). (The concert was nice, even though they sang a Marty Haugen song - SH leaned over and whispered, "This one is not as bad as his music usually is." And the post-concert reception was excellent, as usual. I was doubtful about the ham-wrapped pickle spears secured with sour cream and a toothpick, but then I tried one and y'all, let me tell, those Lutherans know how to make snacks. I don't usually like ham, but I like it wrapped around a dill pickle.)

We have been late for this concert every year since I moved here and just once, I want to be on time. SH had not taken a shower yet.

SH decided that this was the perfect time to try to repair the zipper. The breakage, by the way, was that the little base that secures the two tracks had broken off and the zipper pull had come off, leaving the two tracks separate.

I pointed out (some might say I nagged) that perhaps now was not the best time to attempt to repair a zipper and that we already had a solution.

SH replied, through gritted teeth, that my way was wrong and he wanted to do it the right way.

I continued to read my book, watching SH out of the corner of my eye. He swore repeatedly as I, every five minutes, reminded him that a solution to our problem already existed and wasn't it time for him to get into the shower?

He loves when I nag him. Loves it! It means I am paying attention to him.

Finally, after 25 minutes, he gave up. I pointed out that it takes me three minutes to baste the pillow and that he had just used up eight times' worth of basting, which is about three to four years' worth of pillow cover washing.

He glared at me, then sighed, puzzled, in his "I'm an engineer and I'm used to being able to solve problems" voice. "I don't know how seamstresses do it."

My jaw dropped. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, how does someone who is sewing something do this? It's so hard!"

I shook my head. I had understood him. "You think this is how someone who sews has to set up a zipper?"


"No, no, no! This is not how a zipper arrives when you buy it. I have never been able to repair a zipper once it's broken like that! It comes already assembled. That's why I kept telling you not to bother!"

Bless his heart.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Marriage 501, Lecture 643: Do you see what I see?

As we are driving home from supper out.

Me: Did you see that?!

SH: What?

Me: Over there! In the cemetery! There's a car! On headstones! With its lights on!

SH: No. I didn't see it.

I whip out my phone and start dialing.

SH: Who are you calling? Are you calling the police?

Me: Yes! That is not where a car is supposed to be!

Operator: 911. What is your emergency?

Me: Well, it's not exactly my emergency, but I just saw a car in the cemetery at -- Where are we?

SH: Did you call 911? That's not an emergency!

Me: Where are we?

SH: Sixtieth. At Bluemound.

Me: On 60th. Just a few blocks south of Bluemound.

Operator: Hang on. I'm going to connect you to the police.

SH: I can't believe you called 911 for that!

Me: Who was I supposed to call?

SH: The police!

Me: They're connecting me to the police.

SH: But you shouldn't have called 911! You should called the police directly. You should have looked up the number and called them.

Me: The last time I tried that, they told me to call 911.

SH: Are you sure you even saw anything? I didn't see anything.

For the record, this is the man who did not see the "I am going to die" tattooed in two-inch letters on the waiter's arm last night. And the waiter and SH know each other - it's not the first time SH has ever seen this guy.

SH is also the man who, when we were working our way through the airport in Morocco, did not see the women with the blue tattoos on their faces. How do you not notice blue tattoos on someone's face? How can you not notice that?

So I knew that just because SH had not seen the car on the headstones was not a reason to doubt myself.

Besides, SH has been having an off day, so he is even less trustworthy. He made coffee without a filter and then he vacuumed up not one but two - two! - cat toys, the second 90 seconds after he vacuumed up the first one and had to retrieve it from the canister. Don't you think if you vacuum up one cat toy that you might be on the alert for other cat toys?

Me: Of course I'm sure!

SH: Maybe we should go back and look before you call the police.

Me: I saw it.

SH: You could have been hallucinating.

Right. Because I hallucinate all the time. I might be a bad driver, I might throw away the wrong FexEx receipt, I might put the dishes away wet (that's deliberate), but I do not hallucinate.

Me [hissing]: I was not hallucinating!

Operator 2: 911. What is your emergency?

Me: Oh. I thought they were connecting me to the police.

O2: This is the police. What is your emergency.

Me: Well, it's not exactly an emergency, but I just saw a car in the graveyard off 60th and it did not look like it was supposed to be there. It was on the headstones.

SH [muttering]: Hallucinating.

O2: Oh. I thought that was taken care of.

Me: What?

O2: Well, that was just called in and I already dispatched someone. I thought it was already resolved.

Me: Ha! See! My husband thought I was hallucinating but someone else already called it in, SH!

SH: Oh.

Me: Ha.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Marriage 501, Lecture 124: Bells and whistles

This morning, SH forgot to put a filter in the coffee maker before he made his coffee. Which meant I got to interrogate him mercilessly, asking him why, why, WHY? did he do that? WHY?

To which he replied, Is this what it's like when I give you a hard time?

To which I answered, You bet your bippy. Why, WHY, WHY? would you not use a filter?

And he said, Well at least I didn't hit the curb with the wheel.

And I roll my eyes.

And here I interject something completely unrelated but just occurred to me. SH and I went out to eat last night - our usual end of the year dash to use all our groupons and city tins before they expire - and the waiter had a tattoo on his forearm that said, "I am going to die."

Which I thought, Well yeah. We all are. Is this something you keep forgetting? 

And when I asked SH what he thought about the tattoo, he asked, What tattoo? Because he hadn't even noticed!

How can you not notice such a tattoo?

SH might be a better driver than I am, but he's a bad noticer of things.

So anyhow. After SH cleaned the coffee maker - have you seen what happens when you don't use a filter? It is not pretty, he said

SH: I wish I had bought that coffee maker the other day.

Me: But I thought you didn't want it.

SH: But - it has all kinds of settings on it. I wanted to experiment with it!

Me: Oh Lord.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Marriage 501, Lecture 635: You would think the soap from my body would clean it

SH: The house isn't as clean as it was before you started working.

Me: Nope.

SH: I can tell.

Me: If you want a cleaner house, then I'll have to quit my job.

SH: No.

Me: I have to clean the tub this weekend. It's been a few weeks.

SH: I know! I can tell! I was noticing this morning!

N.B. There is no reason SH could not clean the tub himself. He knows how to do it. As a matter of fact, not once have I ever said, nor would I ever say, "Please don't clean the tub. I am the only person in this house who knows how to clean a tub properly. I don't want you cleaning the tub! Don't! Don't do it!"

Me: I'm going to clean it tomorrow.

SH: If it were me, I would still let it go another few weeks.

Me: I know. I remember when we were dating.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Marriage 501, Lecture 541: Indulgences

SH: So you don't think I compliment you enough?

I had sent him the link to this article that my friend Ilene had posted on facebook.

Me: Oh, I know how it works in your family. If they're not criticizing you, to your face or behind your back, it means they don't love you.

SH: I do compliment you!

Me: I know.

SH: I've been telling you all week how delicious that gumbo [that I made last weekend] is.

Me: I'm glad you like it, sweetie.

SH: But I've had to give you a hard time for running the car into the curb.

IN MY DEFENSE, I was picking SH up at the airport after he'd been gone a week. He left the day after I returned from my week to the unspecified country in the Middle East. We had only 24 hours overlap and I spent most of that sleeping. When I wasn't sleeping, I was barely conscious because of the jet lag.

So when I went to pick him up upon his return, I was really excited to see him. It had been two weeks, people! I do like the guy and I do miss him when we're apart. Even though he makes me crazy sometimes.

Well. I was driving up to the passenger pickup outside of baggage claim - no, I was not going to park the car and go inside to get him because THAT'S HOW WE ROLL - we pick each other up at baggage claim, I saw him standing outside. For once, my view was clear because there weren't a bunch of cars idling at the curb, which is illegal. Why they just don't go into the cellphone waiting area, which is free, I do not know.

So I had a clear view and I saw him and he waved at me, which distracted me, which meant I stopped looking at where I was going for one tiny minute and oops! bumped into the curb. With the snow tires. Which he had just put on the week before. And was so relieved because the regular wheels are out of balance and he was so fed up with it.

I say it's his fault for waving at me.

It was not a joyous reunion is all I'll say about that.

Me: So are you saying that even though you have been giving me a hard time about bumping the wheel [and knocking the car just the tiniest bit out of balance - this is why I did not want to sell my Toyota before I moved here - I did not want the responsibility of driving SH's car, which he considers an item to be kept in pristine condition over the entire life of the car whereas I look at a car as a means of getting from Point A to Point B and if there are some dings well  big deal who cares?] for over a week that the fact that you compliment my cooking makes up for it?

SH: Doesn't it?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Marriage 501, Lecture 32: Ginsu knives

SH: I almost bought a new coffee maker today.

Me: Why?

SH: Because ours will wear out someday. And I saw this really cool one on woot. It has a buzz grinder thermal carafe blah blah blah stuff that means nothing to me because I don't care.

Me: Why didn't you buy it?

I said this with relief. SH, although not profligate, is far more of an impulse buyer than I am. Did we really need not one but three pink rubber fans for a dollar each?

No, we did not.

Did we really need four tubes of wine glasses? Cool wine glasses?

No. We did not.

We are a fully-stocked house. The only item of which we do not have enough is Italian shoes. You can never have enough Italian shoes. But we do not need more stuff. SH is a stuff buyer.

When I asked him why not, I expected him to say, "Because our coffee maker is just fine for what we need and it still works."

SH: Because of the the thermal carafe.

Me: What?

SH: The thermal carafe. You can't see how much coffee is left in it.

Me: So?

SH and I have to alternate coffee days because I don't do so well with the caffeine any more. [See: In which I go to an orthodox Jewish acupuncturist at the drug rehab clinic and discover it's caffeine that gives me migraines.] I make two days' worth of coffee on Day 1 and save half of it for Day 2. On my Day 2, SH makes two days' worth for himself and saves some for the next day, which becomes my new Day 1.

SH: Well, when I pour coffee, I want to make sure I have exactly half the pot left for the next day.

Me: What?

SH: Yes! I make eight cups and drink half the first day and half the second. Don't you pour exactly half?

Me: No.

SH: What?!

Me: I pour one cup and then have the leftovers the next day. It works out.

SH: You are not doing it right.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Marriage 501, Lecture 653: Not making a decision is deciding

Me [via facebook to SH]: I hope you're feeling better this morning. xoxoxoxo

SH: It's good that I got some sleep. I do feel better, but I had an enormous amount of crud to clear out by coughing and blowing my nose. The Mexican pastry with apple filling is OK, but the filling is from a can.
The oatmeal muffin (there was a little piece in the bag with the pastry) is very good when it's warm and buttered!

 This is the oatmeal muffin of the batch I made yesterday after showing the recipe to SH in the latest issue of Cooks Illustrated. He approved of the recipe and agreed that yes, I should try it.

Once I actually made the muffins, he decided he didn't like them that much. "Zey are boring," he declared.

"Fine," I said. "I'll take them to work. The IT guys always appreciate my baking."

He shrugged. "Fine."

Me: Should I bring some home with me? They are all in the break room.

SH: I thought you were going to leave some of those muffins here! You didn't?

Me: Nope. You never told me how many.

SH: You asked me how many and I said "I don't know," but that wasn't the same as saying "none."
What's on the dining room table in a plastic container?

Me: "I don't know" = none. It's not a decision.
Those are the espresso merengues. Try one!

SH: "I don't know" is not a decision, but that's not the correct equivalence. "I don't know" = "wait (and do nothing in the meantime)" or "ask me again later."
It would have been more appropriate for you to leave all of the muffins at home than none of them.

Me: Nope. Because they are perishable.

SH: Well, I like them warm. I want some.

Me: So if you had decided "none," then they would have been one day more stale by the time I took them to work.
You had your chance.
You blew it.

SH: Things like that keep for a few days.

Me: By the way, I'll do laundry tonight.
So be ready.

SH: You said you'd bring some home.

Me: What's in it for me?

And then we devolved into an argument about laundry and who should do it.

And he did not have his laundry ready when I got home.

I did bring him some muffins, though.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Marriage 501, Lecture 50: Only halfway

SH: Why do we need to go to your mom's?

Me: Because it's her 70th birthday.

SH: Oh. OK. Well, next fall is my parents' 50th wedding anniversary and their 75th and 80th birthdays. So we have to do something with them.

Me: Oh no. Next fall, we need to plan a big trip for the two of us. That comes first.

SH: Why?

Me: Because I turn 50!

SH: No you don't.

Me [doing the math]: Yes. I do.

SH: You can't be turning 50.

Me: Yes. I turned 49 on my last birthday. Remember?

SH: But - you can't be 50.

Me: My mom is turning 70. It would have been my parents' 50th. Yes. I am turning 50. Yay.

SH: Cool! We'll be able to get the AARP discounts!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Marriage 501, Lecture 34: Because I don't care about togetherness‏

We had an interesting discussion at work, which led to an interesting discussion on facebook, which led me, naturally, to Rome.

The question: What do you do if you are traveling with your spouse/SO/whomever and that person is offered an upgrade from coach to first or business class, an upgrade that would leave you back in coach?

I was surprised - really surprised - at the strength of emotion behind the responses. 

I was also surprised at how wrong - I'm sorry, how diverse! - the other answers were.

Specifically, they all disagreed with me. At least, at work they disagreed with me.

As in, it would not fly at all for them to accept an upgrade if it meant the spouse had to remain in coach. Not because they cared that the spouse would be in coach alone but because said spouse would be furious.

"But my husband is six feet tall," I explained. "It's a lot more comfortable for him to be up front. I always tell him to take the upgrade if he is offered one."

A co-worker laughed. "I could be 100 feet tall and my wife wouldn't let me do that!"

Facebook friends were a little less diverse, with some maintaining that those who travel together should not be put asunder, but with more saying, "Heck yes - maximize the total comfort level of the group!" Those who were more in favor of taking the upgrade are those who travel extensively and who are eligible for upgrades.

I guess I am not a very good wife - I don't care about being together on the airplane. As long as I am not next to a space hogger - which I am not if I am next to SH and which I definitely am not if I am next to the seat SH has vacated, then I don't care. No smelly people, no armrest hogs, no talkers. Then I'm fine. I read my book and am happy to be left alone.

What do you guys think? If your spouse/SO is offered an upgrade and you are not, what do you do?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The working life: Homecoming‏

If there is a governing ethos to my life, other than an overwhelming fear that I will become a bag lady, destitute and starving, it is that practicality and efficiency reign. I look to improve processes and to make things easier. I don't care for fluff and ritual. I want to get things done. Get on with it. Move along. 

Which is why it can be so aggravating for me to go out to dinner with SH. He loves the ritual of looking at the menu, talking about the wine, waiting for the food, and then taking forever to eat. Like long enough to write a constitution or something. I am always sitting across the table from him, looking impatiently at my watch - OK, I don't wear a watch, so I am speaking figuratively, waiting and waiting for him to finish the heck up so we can leave. He'll finish his food and I'll think we're almost done and then I'll see that he still has 1/3 glass of beer or wine, which is the food equivalent of two minutes left in a football game, which you know means omigod forever.

I did not marry an efficient man. 

I was on a business trip to El Salvador once. The country manager was picking me up at the hotel to go to dinner with him and his wife. I waited for him outside the hotel, right there where the cars drive up. He was surprised to see me when he walked in, going toward the door. 

"I thought you would be waiting in the lobby," he said.

"I thought you would just drive by and pick me up," I said. 

"But - I thought you would wait inside. Most women would wait inside."

I sighed. This was not a date. This was business. 

"Why would I do that? It requires extra work on your part. You could have just driven up to the portico and picked me up. In the future, think about the most efficient way to get something done and then count on me to do it that way."

When I stand in line at the airport, I think about how they could improve their queuing structure to improve customer service. When I go into a store, I think about how they could improve the customer experience. I am about getting to the point.

Which is why I sent a facebook message to SH before I got on the plane to come home last week. "I'll call you when I have my luggage. You can pick me up outside." 

That's how we do things. When I pick him up from a trip, I wait in the cellphone waiting area - no parking charges - and get him as he is walking out of the airport. No fuss. Maximum efficiency.

When the plane touched down in Milwaukee, I called him. "I'm AT THE AIRPORT" (the most used sentence on cell calls), I announced. "I'll call you once I get my bag. It might be a few minutes."

"OK," he said. "See you in a bit."

I settled back and waited for the plane to clear. No rush, as I had to pick up a bag at baggage claim.

I walked off the plane. My two co-workers were waiting for me. Which was nice. Unnecessary, but nice. We walked down the concourse. I berated one of them again for not buying the Christmas stocking embroidered with the sheikh's face when we were in the unspecified Middle Eastern country airport. "I would have bought that in a second," I said. "I can't believe you passed it up."

We walked out of the gate area. A woman approached us, and then a man. My co-workers' spouses.


I hadn't even thought of that part.

You guys know I am super competitive.

I am competitive without being good at things, which is pretty bad. Hard to be competitive if you never win, but the desire to measure one's self against others does not diminish, even in the face of cruel reality. I am a lousy athlete and pretty much a career failure, but I continue to look at others and think, "How do I measure up?" Dumb, I know. If only there were contests to read fast or goof off. I am good at those things. Not much of a market for them, though.

Here was an opportunity to compete and I was failing! In my desire to save SH time and effort, I had forgotten about the desire to look good to my co-workers! Who has the most loving spouse? Not I! I had blown it. It looked like my husband didn't care, when it was really that I had given him the wrong instructions. They were going to think my husband didn't love me enough to come inside the airport to get me. Even though SH and I are old airport hands and have a routine. How would they know that part? How could I work it into the conversation so I wouldn't look like a lazy-spouse loser?

I couldn't. I had to reset my thinking. When all else fails, decide that you weren't racing anyhow.

I sighed, threw my shoulders back, and reminded myself that I was not in a contest. That the judgment of my co-workers did not matter to me. That I knew the truth - that SH is a wonderful man whom I am lucky to have in my life.

But they had their spouses meeting them inside the airport. Wait! They were doing it wrong! Didn't they know they were being inefficient? I smiled to myself and shook my head at their wasteful ways. So sad. My life was all about optimization. I was doing it right, even if they didn't know it.

See how well that resetting your thinking works? All of a sudden, I was the only one doing things right.

And then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a tall, blue-eyed, gray-haired hottie walking toward me.

It was SH.

He had ignored my instructions. He wasn't going to wait for me outside of baggage claim. He wasn't going to make me walk out by myself. 

He had come inside to get me.

"Because I missed you!" he said when I asked why he hadn't just picked me up outside. "I wanted to see you!"

Well OK. I win.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Marriage 501, Lecture 521: Today I am a man

SH: I can't give her any more money.

Me: Bless her heart, she is not a good money manager.

SH: Well - she couldn't have anticipated this.

Me: No, but you can never anticipate bad things. Which is why you plan for bad things and then are relieved when they don't happen. But you still have a plan. Just in case.

SH: You have a plan for if I die!

Me: Of course I do. 

SH: No, I mean you have a detailed plan!

Me: Yep. One of the first things to happen is I ditch all your crap in the basement, including the Beavis and Butthead masks.

SH: It might be time for those to go.

Me: What?

SH: It might be time for me to throw those away.

I am struck silent by my husband's maturity. I had not expected this. For years, he has maintained that he needed to keep those masks. But now, he is a man and he is putting away childish things. I am so proud. My heart warms. He has grown so much since we got married. I love this man.

 SH: Yeah, the rubber is probably rotten anyway.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The working life: More travel hassle

Have I mentioned that I hate business travel? I especially hate it when it involves 16-hour flights and long lines just to get to that flight. And a patdown. A full-body patdown where they don't even offer you a cigarette at the end. Honestly. We do not know each other that well!

The lines. The lines were awful. Three security gates, all in lines that are not designed to optimize the experience for the customer but function to make life easy for the airport/airline employee. 

An airport that is designed to encourage shopping and consumption and not rest. As in, lots of places to shop (nothing like hearing "Little Drummer Boy" playing in the bookstore at the same airport that offers prayer rooms and arrows showing where Mecca is) but almost nowhere to sit. 

The flight home was long, but at least this time, I had an aisle seat with nobody next to me. I wasn't hungry for the airline supper at 11:45 p.m., mostly because I had a nice meal of roast lamb and hummus at a fast-food place before I left for the airport, but then I woke up in the middle of the night, hungry. Fortunately, I had my mango with me. The mango I had bought at the produce souk that afternoon in a last-minute sightseeing dash with a co-worker. When I bought the mango, he said, "That's a lot of money for a mango!"

I disagreed at first, thinking that I had seen mangos at Carrefour for 27 dirhams a kilo, which comes to about (about) $5 a pound, but then I realized that my mango weighed nowhere near a pound and that I had paid the gringo tax. The mango guy saw me coming. Actually, he saw my co-worker coming, the one who was anxiously looking at his watch and saying, "I have to check out of the hotel in 30 minutes!" I had already checked out, so I didn't care, but I also did not want to take the metro back to the hotel alone when I could share a taxi with my co-worker instead. The glamour of public transportation wears off very quickly.

I woke up and ate my mango in the dark, licked off my sticky fingers, and went back to sleep.

We arrived in Atlanta at 5 a.m. I was looking forward to getting breakfast on my expense account. I was especially looking forward to the fancy $7 coffee at Starbucks that I read about. Some fancy bean harvested only during a full moon by red-headed virgins who can speak Chinese, French, and Swahili.

But I thought I should be responsible and show good fiduciary sense first, so I checked the Delta lounge, where SH got me a membership, which may be wasted because I don't drink and the main benefit of lounge membership is free booze, to see what they had to eat and drink.

Watery coffee and stale grocery-store bagels. No Nutella! They had hidden the Nutella, even though booze was available. 

Really, Delta? That's the best you can do?

I felt morally justified in seeking the $7 coffee and some dark chocolate covered pretzels.

I found the Starbucks and its long line with the order taker asking those of us in line what we wanted. I couldn't even see the menu from where I was standing, so I couldn't tell if the $7 coffee was there.

It wasn't until I got to the front of the line that I saw that there was no mysterious expensive coffee. I had to settle for a skinny peppermint mocha, which was a big mistake. It's foul. But I didn't have time to go back and explain the foulness of the coffee because my plane was leaving and so I was stuck coffee less and hungry on the flight home, increasing my bitterness over business travel.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The working life: Leaving

At the airport, at what I later realized was just the beginning of a labyrinthine process of various security checkpoints and long, long lines, all of which were multiple server, multiple line, which is the most unfair queuing system there is, although I don't think the airport authority there concerns itself with fairness.

In their defense, does any airport authority concern itself with fairness?

I have spent many an hour watching impatiently as the line I am not in moves much faster than my line. I have watched TSA agents trying to put a cat through the x-ray. I have spent time in the Paris airport, which, for anyone else who has been there, is all I need to say and for the rest of you, you would not believe the gross inefficiency and disregard for passenger experience even if I told you.

But man - three security lines? Plus an interrogation? Plus a complete patdown, one so thorough that I wanted to ask for a cigarette afterwards?

They go all out at this airport.

We stood in line and went through security one. Then we got to the airline desk to get checked in. Had to be interrogated first. "Has your luggage been in your possession since you packed it?"

The correct answer, no matter what, is yes. Even if you left your bags with the hotel concierge for five hours, you say "yes." Otherwise, you will never get out. You for sure do not admit, as I did once, after the stupid week in Paris with the Moroccan Millionaire, that an Arab man gave you something.

In my case, it was a garish piece of pottery. Who gives pottery as a gift to someone who is traveling internationally? A millionaire who does not think about the logistics involved, apparently, and who also probably just sent his secretary to buy something, although nothing says "personal!" like a brightly-patterned huge vase.

After I lied to the agent about where my luggage had been, I had to wait in line some more to check in.

The two young women working at the Delta desk were laughing and joking with each other.

Me: You guys are having too much fun. Stop it.

YW1: Oh, we just started working. We will be here for hours. We have to make it fun.

Me: You're working on the holiday! [It was the beginning of a three-day weekend.]

YW1 [sighs]: Yes. And I wanted to be outside because the weather is so nice.

Me [puzzled]: It's raining!

YW1: I know! I can't remember the last time I saw rain!

And that's the end of that story because who wants to read about two more long, long lines and no place to sit and restroom stalls that are too small for you and the stupid computer bag you have to carry because you can't check your work computer?