May 28, 2008

Back in the USSA - surviving culture shock

PHOENIX, Arizona, USA - I always make some gaffe at the immigration counter coming back into the U.S., sometimes humorous, sometimes close-to-ugly.

So it wasn't much of a surprise today that I forgot to list the Admiral on our customs form and got mildly chewed out by the female immigration agent who checked our passports - even asking what I had bought that was worth $25 in Mexico.

Strike one.

An hour later, we found our way to a Chili's Restaurant in the Sky Harbor airport after our Phoenix amigos Jim and Pam Carr said they couldn't make it for dinner. :-(

At Chili's, I decided to order a nice glass of cold white wine, which the server said was fine, except I had to show him some photo identification to be served alcohol. My identification. Considering how far from 21 I am, it seemed, well somewhat absurb - especially considering that only a few hours ago we were living in a nation whose alcohol laws are so loose, it's hard to determine if any really exist.

But to make the young waiter happy, I flipped open my wallet, but that wasn't good enough, of course. "Sorry sir," he said. "You need to take your ID out of the plastic.

Strike two.

And a few minutes ago - after taking off my shoes, my belt, putting my glasses and change into separate little dishes - I tossed my backpack onto the conveyor belt to be X-rayed, but with my computer and video camera inside.

Strike three.

At least this time, the TSA agents didn't do an entire explosives test on the camera (as they did once in Sacramento). Instead, they simply pulled out the offending electronics and ran everything through. Very civilized, indeed.

Now, my shoes back on and tied, my stomach full and my bags repacked, I will have to see how well I fare with the flight attendants on our red-eye, cross-country flight to Philadelphia in a couple of hours. I never seem to get my tray table closed and my seat in the upright condition quick enough for the attendants, male or female.

Remember the friendly skies?

Phoenix Sky Harbor
Phoenix's Sky Harbor

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