Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dateline: Wyoming, Ohio

Our flights yesterday were uneventful. We left the apartment at 8:00 and walked in the door here in Wyoming (outside Cincinnati) a little bit after 5:00 in the afternoon. It always amazes me how much time it takes to get from there to here - door to door. It was great to see everyone. We talked and laughed and ate, and then we went to bed a little bit after ten in the evening. I was up at 5:45, which is fine for me. I like a little alone time in the morning. But every door in this house squeaks really loudly.

A couple of things struck me as odd cultural things yesterday. First of all, Fred wanted to get some American money out of the money machine at Schiphol airport. They have one that dispenses greenbacks. So he tried but it didn't work. (That was not the odd bit.) I was standing out of the way watching him and he walked up and said, "Let's watch this next guy and see if he gets any." We were probably fifteen feet (five meters) away and off to the side, but we were watching the machine.

So this couple come up to the money machine area and sees us, moves towards us and stands behind us, thinking that we were in line. I heard them speaking American and turned around and said, "We're not in line."

That would never happen with a Dutch person. In fact, Fred pushed in front of a woman yesterday who was distracted with her cellphone and looking for something in her purse. It's that "you snooze, you lose" attitude. I've stood at a cash machine, giving the person using the machine about a three feet berth and a Dutch person walked right up and stood in front of me. They'll cut in front of you soon as look at you, those Dutch. Love 'em, but it's true. Most Dutch people don't have the deep understanding and respect of the line that Americans do. It's a completely different ball game.

On another note, in the Detroit airport, they have a soap dispenser that works by motion, just like the water faucet. So, conceivably, you don't have to touch anything other than yourself in the public toilet in the Detroit airport. The urinal, the water faucet, the soap dispenser and the blow dryer are all motion detector activated n- and there is no door. Fascinating. I'd wondered years ago about the possibility of that happening. Welcome to the future.

One thing I will say for the Dutch is that they have customs and passport control down pat. Granted, the Netherlands is, as Fred reports, one of the only countries where you have to show your passport upon leaving, but the lines go snip-snap.

In Detroit at passport control, I was told to walk to the citizens line, which was at the far end of the hall, past the visitors line and the huge winding line of other citizens and greencard holders. Then I was told to stand in another citizens line, one which I had walked past to get to the first line. Then I was told to go to the visitors line because they were so much shorter. One-line-Fred was waiting for me for a good ten minutes with the baggage by the time I emerged.

When we went through customs, I stood behind Fred (and behind the red line) who was asked, "Why are you visting America?" (Not the most friendly way to ask the question. Maybe it was his tone.) Fred answered that he was visiting freinds. After another question, he was asked, referring to me, "girlfriend? boyfriend?" Fred motioned to me and was waved through. Such a strange, nosey bunch of questions. I was smiling the whole time I was questioned.

I haven't been to the US is almost a year. It's sort of foreign feeling. Oh well. I'll adjust.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

So true about the line thing!