flying home

4:00 a. m.

Shuttle bus to Berlin from the Szczecin train station leaves at five. 

Then Berlin flight to Dusseldorf . I think that my uncle Frank bombed Dusseldorf in 1944 . Is this the line for Dusseldorf ? Meet an American guy , Robert , from Newberry Park , or was it Newberry Springs ? One of them , it occurs to me later , is a dry little town out near the Marine base northeast of Barstow .

” It’s been a wild ride , ” Robert says . ” Spent some time in Munich . Now I’m going home and then to the Czech Republic .”  He’s a big guy about forty . Harley Davidson jacket , little diamond stud earring , neatly trimmed hair combed back . Had some trouble with passport control in Dusseldorf airport . ” Didn’t think I was going to make it ,” he says . He says something about travelling with a German citizen card , but now he doesn’t have it to show . ” They weren’t going to let me in ,” he says . ” It was with my passport . It might be in my luggage .”

He sits six or eight rows ahead of us on the Dusseldorf to L.A. flight . I size him up , guessing : ex- Marine ; works on those giant aircraft propeller-like windmills . Works all over the world . ” How long you going to be in Czech Republic ? ” I ask . He mentions a two-year contract . Or maybe he’s a contract killer . I didn’t ask him what he does for a living. Maybe he installs heating and air-conditioning ; maybe he’s a bouncer in disco clubs ; maybe he sells Hondas or those little paper umbrellas for exotic cocktails .

At least he made it onto the flight . So did the German girl with the small child . She had asked us to watch her stuff so that she could take the little girl to the toilet . The little girl , Lilia ? , handed me her doll . Her mother was surprised . ” She never does this ,” she said. ” She’s so shy .” The little girl wouldn’t take her doll back . Evidently she thought in her two year old mind that I needed it more than she did . Eventually I handed it back to her mother . When boarding time came Ada told her to go ahead , parents with children board first , along with business class . ” Germans don’t usually let you do that ,” she said , or ” Germans don’t care for children .”  She’s German . She’d  left Munich when we left Szczecin, at 4:00 a.m.  but she had carried a two year old along with her .

She tried to board but there was a problem . Maybe a problem with a visa for the child . They wouldn’t let her board . Four airBerlin employees surrounded her . She was crying . An older man walked  over to comfort her . She cried . Later she talked on a mobile phone . Somehow the problem was solved  and she got on at the last minute .

Ada and I sit together near the window over a wing . She has the window and I have the aisle . We requested this rather than seats in the  four seat together arrangement in the center of the plane . But the flight is not full and a couple of guys have all four seats in their section to themselves . They both stretch out over their four seats and go to sleep . Some people have all the luck !

Coming over from L.A. to Berlin on airBerlin we  were told at the airport that there were no two seats together . Ada and I were each stuck between people in the four seat arrangement and we were several rows apart . I asked the girl at the airBerlin desk in L.A. how it was possible when she said all seats were taken . We had requested particular seats weeks before . But we had not paid the $20 per seat reservation fee . ” And all these other people did ? ” I asked , skeptical .

” Perhaps because they’re Germans , ” she answered . She had a slight German accent .

I sat next to an American guy who had indeed paid the $20 to get an isle seat . ” Are you a shooter ?” he said . ” You look like a shooter . I’m a shooter .” Great .  ”  I’d like to get a Garand rifle ,” he said . That’s what they used in World War Two and afterward until the M-16.”

” There was the M-14 ,” I said .

” You been in the military ? ” he asked . ” I missed Vietnam ,” he said . ” Just a little too young . Wish I could have gone .”  

Then he pulled out his iphone and showed me pictures of his motorcycles and guns .  He had a magazine with Romney on the cover . ” That’s your man ? ”  I asked . Needlessly . He and his wife were going to some countries in eastern Europe . A guided tour . For their twentieth wedding anniversary . The wife  had the aisle seat across from him . ” It’s going to be a great trip ,” I said .  And I meant it  , but I wondered if it would be a good trip for those two biker , shooter , cracker jack Americans .  God bless them .

I’m trying to get the cramp out of my legs from the Dusseldorf flight . Dusseldorf .

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