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Arrival in Frankfurt
by Frances Zheng
2008-10-28 09:21:57
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October 21st, 2008, with the Roman's triumphant horn announcing for the thousandth time through the airplane radio that this airline was on time (even though it was 10 minutes late), I was freed from my tiny seat where I couldn't bend my knees further than a 45-degrees without pressing them against the back of the front seat or sitting up straight like a soldier on mission, and after almost 3 hours of flying along with kids' crying and teenagers shouting, I fled quickly from the heavy crowd in the aisle to the open rainy evening air in the Frankfurt airport.

After always hearing that the German public transport system keeps perfect time, I decided to run to the shuttle bus because otherwise it would be one whole hour waiting at the airport. Luckily, I got the ticket fast enough to get on board, but the bus was full, and there were at least 20 people waiting to get on the same one. So I was hoping they'd arrange another bus right afterward. I was too naïve to think that businessmen really treat customers as their gods...not even in Germany.

Anyway, I went back inside after waiting in the rain for 10 minutes along with the other "unlucky" passengers, and then I realized my "wonderful" Finnish mobile service network doesn't work in Germany - another challenge to my expectations. Oh well, at least I had one hour to figure that out-- I was trying to calm myself down.

After talking to the busy lady at the Information Desk, I was told to check the biggest shop where they sell cellphone cards. I asked the girl at the cashier, and she told me that they don't sell International prepaid cards or SIM-cards, only German ones. "OK, please get me a German SIM-card then." Before I even asked how much it costs, she said, "No, we don't have SIM-cards here."

"But you just said so..." (Meets with a blank look) "Never mind. Where do they sell the card in the airport?"

"I don't know."

(Inhaling) "Very good, thanks anyway."

I wandered about to another shop, and unsurprisingly got the same reply. Then I asked people at some other airline service counter, the woman there told me they do sell prepaid cards, but I can only use it on "Handy", which means "telephone", other than my cellphone. Fair enough, if that's how it meant to work!

I bought one and tried to use it on the Handy, but it kept saying the numbers I dialled were not valid, which pushed me to another peak of anger while being hungry!

I gave up. On my way to the cafe, an airport-worker-like guy stopped me, asking what I was looking for. That was totally unexpected. I guess he saw me running back and forth in the airport and still managing not to kick their airport Handy, so he decided to lend a hand. "I was looking for HELP!" He laughed, even though I didn't understand what made it so funny to him. And he took his mobile out and tried to test the numbers. It worked, and he let me answer the phone. I was so thankful!

After making a call, I asked him how I can pay, he just waved his hand saying "It's nothing" and wished me a pleasant stay in Germany before he was gone. Just as in Finland, some bus drivers said "No English" in English to me, refusing to tell information even though they do speak English perfectly, some drivers would even get off their vehicles to walk me to the destination because they were afraid I might miss it somehow. I just feel amazed how people can be so different.

Finally I got on the shuttle bus before 9pm with an empty stomach as I dared not to risk the opportunity of getting on board this time. Because of the time difference, to me it was already 10pm. The bus was 5 minutes late though-- I couldn't care much about that any more. After moving several meters, the bus stopped: A car in front of us seemed not to be able to decide which way it wanted to go, so another 5 minutes passed until the driver got off and talked to them. But when the bus was eventually on the road, it was fast!

There was a German family with two young kids sitting beside me. The 6-year-old-like daughter was extremely energetic, playing with everyone and everything she saw around all the time, when she got bored, she would tease her little sister who doesn't speak, yet could make super-high pitched noises whenever she felt like to. So the whole trip was full of kids crying, laughter and crying again. I was surprised that the parents didn't bother to do anything to stop them, even when they did, their children just took it as an encouragement...

My patience was very well tested that day, I must admit.

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Alexandra Hussein Pereira2008-10-31 04:16:38
Hope you recovered meanwhile, Frances Hussein Zheng.

Frances2008-11-01 13:11:13
What is this Hussein thing? Is it a popular name nowadays?!

Alexandra Hussein Pereira2008-11-04 19:38:25
Very much. A guy named Hussein may be the US President by the end of this day.

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