Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Traveller's Observations

People can be very interesting. No scoop there, but our recent trip to the Dominican Republic gave me several great opportunities to observe “people being people.”

Keeping my record for being singled out for extra security attention at airports at 100% since 2001, I was pulled out of the line and given the full pat-down in Milwaukee. Same routine on the way home, at the Punta Cana airport. The TSA guy in Milwaukee was all business, and he spent at least five minutes checking me out, including the nitrile gloves which he stuffed down into my pants and then swabbed for explosive residue. The fellow at the Punta Cana airport did a 20-second pat-down and sent me back into the line with my wife. Security Theater, on both ends of the trip.

Years ago as an itinerant musician, I did a great deal of travelling. Back in the 70’s, in any European nation, you could pick out the Americans. Too many were rude, whiny, noisy, and inconsiderate. Now, it appears the Europeans have taken on that role. At the resort in Punta Cana, it was the Europeans who were rude, pushy, loud, and obnoxious. They’d stand in groups, talking, in the middle of the walkways around the beautifully-manicured grounds of the resort, blocking the path, and making everyone walk around them.

Too many parents let their indulgent brats run unsupervised. In the pool one day, a German kid kept jumping off the edge of the pool to “cannonball” me. Never mind that there are signs posted every fifteen feet saying “no diving off the edge” in 5 languages. I had a good mind to give him a few choice cuss-words, auf Deutsch, but knew that creating an international incident would not stand me in good stead with my sunbathing wife.

You soon forget how annoying cigarette smoke can be in enclosed public places. The Russians we encountered seemed to smoke continuously, and so did many of the Germans and French. On Friday night, we had reservations at the resort’s exclusive Cana Steak House, and we were seated right next to two Canadian women from Quebec, who smoked constantly, alternating bites of meat with drags on their cigarettes, while chatting in French, deriding the red wine they’d selected and fouling the air.

But the crowning glory was at the very end of the trip, after we’d cleared Customs in Milwaukee and were waiting in a small room for the ground transport to pick us up and take us to the hotel where our car was parked. A 60-something woman was blocking the exit, loudly arguing with someone (her husband?) a few feet away about how that was NOT her suitcase he was holding. “I don’t have a single piece of green luggage. That is NOT my suitcase!” she kept repeating, as people backed up, trying to get out of the exit. After several exchanges about how she didn’t own ANYTHING green, the long-suffering travel companion finally raised his voice and said “IT HAS YOUR NAME-TAG ON IT.” Long pause. “Oh. Well my luggage is blue. It must look green in that light. Just bring it out for me.”


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