The last impression i got from the dawning european winter was a storm above Paris. I couldn’t care less. It made me laugh like you would imagine the typical serial killer to laugh in the movies. Finally i had made it, finally no winter. No winter depression.
The day started early. Too early for my taste. Getting out of bed, freezing, shambling to the shower. My parents were already awake, my mother was sad that I would be gone soon, my father reading the newspaper. Just the everyday morning routine. Picking up Daniel at his parents, my oldest best friend. Just as crazy as I am. He lived in a tent for about 2 years. Even in winter.
The typical procedure at the airport, mother cries, hugs, hugs again, wave, wave again. Then finally Daniel and I get to go inside. Check my baggage. 6.6kg. Plus the stuff I have taken to the plane. So a total of probably 12 kg. Not that bad. Considering I might have to walk with all of this. Daniel and I have a last talk, and I enter the secured area. Boarding starts soon after.
I feel a sort of quiet in myself, disrupted by occasional bursts of “what will I do when I get there?”.
Makes sense considering I didn’t intend to either book a hotel, rent a car or whatever. So i knew that I might end up stuck at the airport.
Frankfurt to Paris. A cute little plane. A318. The smallest Airbus. It didn’t even need full throttle to take off. Sounded like 80%. Makes sense for a short trip though.
Much in opposition to the next plane I would be flying with. The biggest Passenger airplane currently in operation. The A380. One wing alone is bigger than the whole A318’s length.
That’s pretty much like comparing a mouse to an elephant. Most of you drive. That’s the difference of a Prius to a 40ton Truck.
Economy class, not much space. This is one of the times I am really glad to be small. 170cm or 5feet 7 inches for you americans. Still don’t get those measurements. 12 Eggs is a basket and 24 baskets is a truck or something like that. For me those things are just counterintuitive, just like doing math with roman numbers. A pain in the ass.
Fast forward, Miami Airport. This massive flying brick just landed. And it landed like a brick. Decelarating so slowly that I feared it would just pass over the runway and we would all die in a fatal crash. Didn’t happen obviously. It rains. It is dark. I don’t know where to go. For the last 3 hours I hoped the flight would never end. I was probably the only person in the plane to think that. So i followed the approximatly 500 other passengers to customs. Overly redundant bullshit!
Why do i have to show my passport again. How do you guys think I got in the plane in the first place? Teleportation? Spontanious creation of conscious life? To be fair it’s not only an american problem, Europe is no better in this regard. So after showing my passport for the 5th time, answering stupid questions like “Do you plan any terrorist acts in the United States?” for the 3rd time I was free to go. Seriously, which kind of terrorist would even answer yes? Are you hoping to catch mentally disabled terrorists? I doubt they wouldn’t even be able to board a plane in the first place.
You can buy Snipers at Walmart however. I doubt it would be much of a problem to get my hands on an AMR over here either. God beware of terrorist being able to get their hands on stingers. Oh. Wait. Didn’t you sell them to the Taliban back in the 80s? Oops. There is a reason why El Al has missile defenses on board their planes. Thanks god terrorists are dumb. Actually makes sense though. Smart amoralists don’t need terrorism to get what they want, they simply join the government or specific companies.
Stop ranting against stupidity, Ulf. Won’t help anyway. So now, stranded at the airport. Trying to figure out a way to get to DeLand, Florida. Still following the crowd. Ended up getting my first 100$ out of an ATM after asking a helpful security guard, who ended up googleing bus departures for me and giving me even more advice. First interesing guy I met. Very friendly.
After an hour of walking around the Airport I figured out that I would have to take a train up north. The last one would be departing soon, so I ran around like crazy and made it in time. Must have been a funny sight though. The Tri-Rail (I wondered if it was purposely called like “Try Rail”) was basicly like a typical German regional train. However its Diesel Engine was obnoxiously loud and it honked at every crossing. I ended up asking the conductor why it did this. He said that they had problems with cars crashing into the trains and recently a car crashed into a moving train. So it was the law in that county. Welcome to America. “Oh yes, we have gates but people don’t get them.”
You can imagine it was not an exceptionally fun ride… I got off at West Palm Beach, just like the conductor suggested. Ended up stranded again, searching for a place to lay down in my sleeping bag and prepare for the next day.
Didn’t take long and a black guy sitting there asked me if he could help me. Turns out he is the security guard of greyhound close to the station. We talked a bit and i asked him if there are some bars there. He told me the way, kept my big backpack while I took the one with the valuable things with me. I promised to be back before 2am and bring him a beer.
Found a small arabic food place, much like good old Döner. Met two guys roughly my age. One was an english teacher. We had a good time, shared some stories and a beer together.
We were a bit annoyed by this one girl constantly trying to hit on guys. She had a helloween-mask of a skull in her face, made stories about how she has a serious illness or was too long in the sun. Pretty creative I have to say. Still I was truely amazed by her outfit, belly top and no bra. Nipples piercing through. She was a bit past her prime, probably in her 30s and I am not sure whether she was just drunk or crazy, probably both. However. My first day in America and I have seen a level of sluttyness I have never before seen in 25years of Europe.
No I take that back, there is this one story about my ex-girlfriends drunk aunt at a Scorpions concert… That was one of the most embarrasing moments of my life.
After the two guys left, I got myself two beers and went straight back to the greyhound station. My black security guard friend was a bit annoyed by a delayed bus. But it came 10mins later and we were finally able to have our beer and talk a while. Turns out he is a very spiritual guy, writes poetry and likes philosophy. We’ve been talking about philosophy and our world views for about two or three ours despite me being tired as hell.
He told me how it is to grow up as a black man in the states and how he thinks that people overuse the racism card, that there is a lot of disrespect and people treat each other like shit instead of using empathy. Both sides. About the political differences, I told him about european election systems and we compared them. Life always amazes me how and where you find such sophisticated and smart people. Travelling certainly helps destroying prejudice. I hadn’t expected a young black security guard to be that developed, that philosophical and smart. But he wasn’t going to be the only one.
I finally lay down to sleep, as much as I wanted to continue my conversation with my new friend tiredness just overwhelmed me. I felt bad for him watching over me but he assured me it was fine. Slept like a baby. Only for 2 hours though before the first train woke me up. I said goodbye to him, exchanged contacts and went for hitching on Interstate 95.
Stood there for a while until tiredness came back again. It was still kinda dark outside. So i found a nice spot to lay down next to the Interstate where no one could see me. Slept for some hours. Packed my stuff, moved around and stood at the ramp again. A good spot, cars were slow and plenty. Plus a strip where they could stop. Nobody did however. Except for a Cuban guy going only 4 miles. Wouldn’t help me much. A poor looking hispanic pedestrian stopped and gave me 5$ “go get yourself some water” for I was standing in the bright Florida sun and probably looked thirsty. I didn’t care at first. For a sun deprived european this was heaven on earth. I was more annoyed by people not stopping at all and those 2 being the only ones to really notice me. Funny how it is always the poor guys giving. After some hours in the sun my water supply was really running low, so I decided to go with the man’s advice and get myself some water at the nearby gas station. Didn’t want to stay at the ramp for longer so I finally decided to ask people at the traffic light. 5 minutes later another hispanic looking woman took me along.
She was driving to Orlando Airport to fly back to her home in Indiana. A nice and caring woman, probably in her late 40s. Turns out she is already a grandmother and works as a construction worker. She builds powerplands all over the world as a welder. She said there is good money to be made with kind of “easy” work in canada. Basicly in the middle of nowhere, doing construction work. Companies would provide housing and transportation costs. More amazingly she pais the bills for pretty much all of her family with that. She is probably an extremely tough person even though she didnt look that strong in the first glance. I can barely imagine her welding stuff somewhere in the Canadian north or the Australian desert. All of which she has done. She told me that once her oldest child had moved from the house she would move out and just be working and travelling without having a home-base.
That woman is working hard to provide and protect her family, giving up herself like crazy and still has room for strangers in her heart. Again a person that makes me feel that hope is in fact not lost for planet earth.
She left me at some place with a lot of gas stations and fast food restaurants beside the interstate. I asked her which place would be the best to grab some food.
“you mean food-food?” (meaning proper food not chemical-waste)
She nodded and pointed at a “sonny’s”. BBQ it will be. Well I wanted to try american stuff, so let’s go.
Weird for me that you go into a restaurant and they show you a place to sit, but who am I to judge? So I sit down and 2 minutes later an overly friendly young girl with piercings and an undercut came over and asked me what I wanted. I told her that I am a german visitor, not really sure how that works here and wanted a card first. So she gave me one, being even more friendly because I’m a foreigner. Feel a bit sorry for her because she was running around like crazy. Shitty job if you ask me. The time pressure was clearly visible. So i got some ribs with a sweet baked potato and coleslaw. Figured that would be as american as it could get.
The taste was good, and it was a big portion. Her comment to the size of the portion “That’s america for ya, everything is bigger”.