Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Every Monkey Gets His Turn in The Barrel

AdventureMan and I have this phrase, and I cannot imagine where it came from (from where it came, for you grammar sticklers!) “Every Monkey gets his turn in the barrel.” It’s particularly true in the workplace, or at least almost every workplace where I have worked – it’s like the stock market, sometimes your stock is high, sometimes your stock can fall, and often, it is not so much your performance as the PERCEPTION of your performance.

Often, in the work place, stocks rise and fall based on little or nothing at all. In fact, if you are really really good at what you do, you are sometimes more at risk, because those who are less accomplished always need to focus the attention anywhere but on their own work, and if you are doing well, they will often find something to criticize to keep their own lackluster accomplishments from coming into focus.

But every monkey getting his/her turn in the barrel applies in almost all factors of life. Sometimes you’re up. Sometimes you’re down. Sometimes it has nothing to do with you, it’s just the way things are.

So my trip home was sort of my turn in the barrel. I was a little late getting to the airport, which was not crowded, but there was a long back-up going through passport control to get to the departure gates. They had plenty of staff, but for some reason, they were SO SLOW. When I got to the front, the woman ‘taking care’ of me was busy texting! I asked if the computers were slow today – honestly, she had already stamped my passport, she was just killing time – and she said “No, why?” as if she were unaware of all the people standing in line, waiting to get through.

When I got to Dubai, I had to do this 2 km run from the gate where Emirates comes in to the Delta check-in counter. I always think of it as good exercise, but the humidity in Dubai is particularly high, or else the air conditioning is going out, and at the end of the trek, I am almost soaked with sweat and thinking ‘OMG I need a shower.’ I went to the lounge, but there was a sign “opening at 2100 hours’ and it was 15 minutes after nine. I could see someone in there, but later she stuck her head out and said she couldn’t let anyone in until the ‘attendants’ came, which they did, about 15 minutes later – they had been shopping!

And then I discovered that I had to go to the Air France lounge, not nice at all, near the smoking station so even inside the Air France lounge it smells stale and smokey. I am spoiled. I love the Emirates lounge in Dubai, where they even have tiny small containers of Haggan Daaz ice cream for their clients. 😉 This lounge was filled with American contractors. Yes, we are also American contractors, but this was the other kind – great big fat loud-voiced men, bragging about their salaries and demeaning their wives. I couldn’t wait to get out of there, which I did quickly after checking my e-mails.

The flight from Dubai to Atlanta is just long – more than 15 hours – and started inauspiciously. As we took off, as the plane’s nose lifted, some cupboard fell open and we could hear china and cutlery falling and breaking, a lot of it. I felt so sorry for the flight attendants; they have a lot to do during those flights, and now it was complicated by a disaster at the beginning of the flight. I got through it, mostly by escaping into sleep.

As we arrived in Atlanta, everything had changed. I just did this trip six weeks ago, but there is a new traffic pattern, a longer trek, sterner instructions about how and where to get into line. My bags, marked “priority’, were, as often is the case, nearly the last off the plane, and I trundled them through customs, and then had to run (honestly, this is like a herd of cattle) to get into another long, snaking line to go through security again – this time in Atlanta, where you have to take off your shoes, take out computers, can only use a 1 quart zippering plastic bag, etc.

I had thought I had plenty of time, but a large troop flight came in from Afghanistan, and we all had to move aside to give them priority. That is the one inconvenience I did not mind at all – I am so proud everyone moved over with no grumbling and let our servicepeople through, to get them on their way for R&R.

Security found me very interesting, and this is my own fault. I have a little Waterford crystal sugar jar that I took with me. I’ve had it since the early years of our marriage, and I often hand carry it to the next post. It’s too bad that lead crystal goes opaque in the scanners, and that the shape was a little like that of a hand grenade. I also had my wireless router with me, and this led to a long, long, very long inspection of everything I was carrying.

As I griped later to my son, he said “And I am sure it never occurred to you that you were arriving from the Middle East on a one-way ticket.”

LLLLLOOOOLLLL @ me. Nope. It had never occurred to me. I guess I was thinking about other things – farewells, clearing out the house, packing, mortgage papers, insurance papers, TAXES (Oh aaaAAARRRGGHHH, yes we have an extension, but we still have to get them done!)

So this trip, I was the monkey. I rolled around in that barrel. Actually, because I had no real agenda, other than be in P’cola by Monday to close on a house, I could roll with it and figure that I have had so many breaks, so many times, that if I needed to take this roll in the barrel, so be it, God is good and needed to give the breaks to that old guy in the wheel chair and that family with two kids in strollers, and all those fine young people who serve our country in strange and alien lands . . .

And, at the end of my journey is my son, his wife, and our grandson, and a sweet, relaxed day with them, doing not much but catching up. 🙂 The real chaos starts this coming week, early on Monday morning. Think I’d better get to church, get some fortification for the demands of this coming week.

March 21, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Doha, ExPat Life, Florida, Moving, Pensacola, Random Musings, Spiritual, Travel | 7 Comments

Who Is the Terrorist?

Sent by my Kuwaiti friend; I almost died laughing and I hope you will, too:

March 21, 2010 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Communication, Counter-terrorism, Cross Cultural, Customer Service, Humor | 2 Comments