Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Me and 10 Billion Chinese

Just got back from my trip to Frankfurt. I spent almost two hours at immigration tonight waiting behind a flight from Shanghai. They were a little short-staffed at the desk, which made it slow anyway, but then add that to a line full of a 747's worth of Chinese people, many of whom know very little English. Between the visa questioning and the unresponsiveness to "NEXT" and the slowed reactions of folks fresh off a 10 hour flight, it went on like a bad dream. When I finally got to the immigration officer I actually smiled at him and said, "Hooray! It's my turn! I'm so HAPPY!" He laughed at me and let me right in.

I will say, though, that it's odd to have gotten to a point where going through immigration at Heathrow feels like part of my commute and not a major event. I didn't feel like I was in a customs delay today. I felt like I was in a traffic jam.

Frankfurt was fine. It was a trade show, so mostly I just walked around a convention centre greeting people with the double bus on the cheek (the English are definitely two-kiss greeters,) and talking about exotic places with strangers. My favourite things in my 24 hour trip to Germany were:

- German men sure like their tight-fitting trousers that are slightly too short. Someone should really talk to them about that. (Note to clarify...it is not the tight pants that I like, it's the stereotype of oddly attired Germans. I actually find the pants kind of creepy, and worry that they're terribly uncomfortable.)
- They also like ill-fitting tweed double breasted jackets.
- And where do Germans get their glasses?
- I think 20% of German women have flattops.
- I stayed at a lovely hotel, and there was a mini stepmaster and a set of 5kg weights in each guest room as a standard amenity. I can just picture some fit 60 year old Jack Lalane-looking German businessman putting in 30 minutes on the march-in-place machine before jumping in the shower.
- It's fun to watch German tv and guess what they're saying. (I don't speak any German, FYI.) Their pop culture is beyond understanding.
- They had dill pickles on the breakfast buffet, as well as extra crispy bacon. (American style bacon, not Brit.)
- Man, they drive those cabs fast.

All in all, it was a perfectly fine trip, and once I actually got to my car and hit the highway I had a nice evening. Home in time for a call with my learning team, and now I'm heading to bed with the copy of Blink that I bought in the airport. That Malcom Gladwell. What a genius.

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