Sept 15, 2005
After 4.25 years as an unemployed bum, I've finally been offered a job that I could not refuse. I took it as a favor for a friend, but more than that for a free trip to Denmark.
On the way to the job, I miss my flight. That's the first time that I've ever missed a flight, and it's not exactly the best way to make a great first impression.
It wasn't exactly my fault though - everything just moves at a different speed in Africa. I leave for the airport more than 3-hours before my flight. The bus to the airport crept impossibly slowly through the thick traffic. But that had been planned for. When I got to the airport, I made my big mistake. I didn't know which of the two terminals my flight was departing from, and I guessed wrong. I quickly learned of my mistake, but it took 35 minutes for the inter-terminal transfer bus to show up. Then rather than taking me to the other terminal, it simply dropped me off to transfer to yet another inter-terminal bus. Despite all of that, I still make it to the check-in counter 30 minutes before my flight.
I get to the counter, and am told: "No problem, you can still board." "Where's your ticket?" they ask. "You have it," I tell them. "Sorry, but that guy has already gone home." And indeed there are no electronic tickets. An employee of the airline was holding my paper ticket, and he already went home.
For the next flight, later in the week, I very much err on the side of caution. I take a taxi, and this time I arrive 3-hours early at the airport. As an early check-in, I was given an emergency exit row. After all of my tough traveling through Africa, I'm bewildered by all of the comforts even in economy class. All of this space! Comfortable seats! My god, the seats even recline! You really appreciate reclining seats after being banged around in cattle trucks in Africa.
It has been 1.5 years since my last flight. It seems magical zooming from one place to another. While traveling through Africa, I was impressed with the sudden differences between countries. You can walk across a literal line in the sand, and find the people on the other side to be completely different. But it's nothing like being instantly transported from Egypt to Denmark.
I arrive in Denmark, am picked up by Georg, and am then taken to our boss's house, where I'll be staying. Georg had neglected to mention how wealthy his boss is. The house is a 15 room, plus 4-bath monstrosity, but it's only medium sized for this neighborhood. I'm living on Strandvej, the absolutely most expensive street in all of Denmark. We're right on the water looking across at Sweden and we share a backyard with Hermitage Castle.
The very first morning, I join my boss and some of his friends for breakfast. They're talking about private jets and yachts. Rich people are funny. They were far more intimidated by me, than vice-versa. Traveling through Africa, it's become extremely clear to me that money does not make people happy. I have no desire for wealth, and the very rich simply didn't know what to make of someone who wasn't impressed with nor desired his or her wealth.
But I'm saddened by how jaded I've become. I find that I am equally comfortable in a $1/night mud hut or a 14 million dollar mansion. I don't find either situation special or new anymore. I am truly a man of the world, but not necessarily in a good way. Once upon a time, I'd study the money when I arrived in a new country; fascinated by the pictures on the money, the language, etc. Now, I just check the exchange rate and don't even look at the money. That is something that I need to work on.
What else can I say about my introduction to Scandinavia? Within 24 hours of arriving in Denmark, I try 3 different types of herring. It's pretty good.
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