11.01.2001 (th), Frankfurt
That's like going the way of the condemn, sitting here and waiting for boarding. Just a few minutes ago I took leave from my friends and family (they traveled from Freiburg to Frankfurt to give me appropriate good bye). Pushkin gets notice that something was going on this morning. Was all the time around me until I left.
11.01.2001 (still th), Somewhere between Frankfurt and Atlanta
I'm flying, I'm flying.
11.01.2001 (th late at night), Atlanta, south of Buckhead
Here I am.
Got a nice flat fully furnitured and equipt. They (AMLI homes) has not only put in the furniture and kitchen equipment, oh no... they'd arranged it. On the dining table they arranged a complete series of plates (including the cutlery from left to right, inner to outer, forks on the left and knifes on the right). Folded napkins, wine glass beside water glass. IN the drawer they arranged the standard kitchen helper cutlery. Two coffee cups beside the coffee machine, in the cupboard the glasses was composed in the order of there size (smallest to the front), and so on. Quite nice. Americans does have a flair for details.
I am not a American, I tried to use the phone and to switch on the TV and mentioned: both are not working. (But indeed: the dining table looks great.)
12.01.2001 (fr), Atlanta
Atlanta is a nice town (can see a part of the city through the window of my office).
12.01.2001 (fr), Atlanta, Concourse Towers, Parking Deck, Level 2, Aisle D
Tanja (our Office Manager) "introduced" me to my
car. It is a Volvo V70 (we call this a teachers car in Germany). Black with
leather seats, automatic, air-condition, a lot of switches and buttons and
options and features and volvo.
Driving this car is like a ongoing, never-ending discussion. If you press the gas pedal.... you hear a voice... "ah..... you are going to get me moving forward... mmmhhh.... is this your final decision?... mmmhh, I see you seems to be convinced about your intentions... ok.... be prepared, I am now going to move.... do you feel the acceleration... do you feel comfortable with it..." and then somewhere deep in the huge hood (manufactured in Sweden) something happens which - I swear - makes this two tons of best Swedish steel moving forward. I like this car. I call him (not it) Antipod (because I will not dare to call him a dinosaur, may he would get this wrong).
He (Antipod) cruises me back home, it was no issue to find the AMLI homes apartments (Rosswell Rd) but once in the residential quarter it took me 15 minute to find my building. At least my undisputed mathematic abilities helped me out of that odyssey: there was a building 1800 and 1900 but no 1700. Life is a bitch, you always live in the house which has no numbers on it. (After that odyssey I changed this bad luck into standard behavior: now I'm not follow any traffic signs any longer, I just search for the building without any numbers on it.)
14.01.2001 (su), Atlanta
That was the first weekend in Atlanta. Most time I spend
in my bed because I still are "ignoring" against a flu (I will win).
On Saturday T&T guided me through the entire city (driving down entire
Peachtree Rd from north to south). At last we had lunch in "Einsteins"
a smart (gay frequented) dinner at the Downtown side of Midtown (excellent
burger). The same evening we gone to a sushi restaurant with T&T and friends
of them. Sushi was new to me, indeed it tastes excellent but my flu-aggrieved stomach
had his own opinion about raw fish. But at last I managed to keep in
what I had already eaten. (The others eat the rest so nothing was lost at all.)
The highlight of the restaurant indeed was Dan: "hello I am Dan, I will be your waiter for tonight and've to apologize because I am so busy tonight...". We discussed the whole evening not if just WHAT he may has swallowed. He gots eyes with pin pupils, and it takes him 5 minutes (without any apparitional breath) to explain the daily specialties or the dessert and all of his explanation comes to an end (all Germans on the table) "... which is a peach with a little chocolate me..." (interrupting) "And how much is it?", "It is 12,20 very fair price, very fair price.". But it works, Peter choosed the cat fish, Angela the recommended starter and Thomas one of the recommended desserts. I got the "Sushi combo" and my stomach gets angry.
15.01.2001 (mo), Detroit
Yes, as we discussed it. We (respectively I) planned to be the first week in Atlanta to get used to the job and discuss the nearer future with my colleagues. Now I started my first week in America not in Atlanta but in Detroit (Michigan). Going from one meeting to the other, everything works fine (especially because Thomas - my colleague - takes care to do the Smalltalk) except: that guy from Ohio, damn have no idea what language he was talking (It sounds like English but I didn't get a word.).
16.01.2001 (tu), Detroit
Ohio? Had a meeting with three guys from India, I managed to understand them because of my Ohio-experience. Neville
(our Detroit salesman) told me that I better get used to talk English with guys
from India and Pakistan because they rule the entire software development of
the US. However, they are quite cute and kind. Even if their eyes are saying
"I didn't not understand a word" they smile.
Later the day I meet Ohio again now I was India approved, in comparison to them his English sounds near to the Oxford English of my teacher in school.
I going to wonder how my German English may sound to them...
18.01.2001 (th), Manchester (New Hampshire)
Getting up at 4:30 (am) this morning to get the flight to Manchester (via Philadelphia). I still have not managed to make the (fully equipped!) alarm clock ringing as intended. (First time it was not ringing at all because I forgot to switch it on, second time it was not ringing because I have not noticed the light which indicates "pm". Now third times it was not ringing because the alarm was set correct but the clock itself was set to pm where it should be am. Don't matter because I have my own alarm clock with me - approved German Tschibo quality.
18.01.2001 (th), Pittsburgh
My plane to Philadelphia was delayed so I decided to try it via Pittsburgh. Now I am waiting for boarding to Atlanta. I remember a few colleagues telling me the cellular phones are not very public in the United States. But if I look around here, I wonder that people only have one. Germans are used to have cellular phones but Americans are used to use their mobiles.
18.01.2001 (th, one of the long ones), Over Atlanta
Now I know how a laundry feels in washing machine. The
plane is jiggling through turbulences. That is not a issue. In the row behind
me there is a little boy, two or three years old and he needs DEFINITELY a clean
diaper. OK: it is not an issue, it's a problem.
The captain informs us about a half an hour delay because Atlanta Hartsfield is closed. We have to wait. The boy stops smelling, starts, stops, starts... I wonder how he can do this. The stewardess passes by and while she gets a little bit slower she looks at me (not at the boy). What was that? Is she in the opinion I cause this smell? Or is she pity about me? Hopefully the last one. (I deserved it - dear god I did!)
19.01.2001 (fr), Atlanta
Now it is 1 pm. I am too tired to sleep. It took me half
an hour to get from the parking place to the pay office. (Seemingly all the
planes had to wait in the air. First we had to wait in the air, then hat to wait
in our cars - life is a bitch.) Then I figured out that a Volvo V70 is some kind
of a laundry room. The blower wasn't able to keep the windows clear. But
at least I find my way (I did it). OK I did it because Thomas gave me a small
plan how to drive from the airport to my flat. (85 north, 285 west, exit to
Roswell Rd) BUT: he missed to tell me to drive right or left at the ramp so I stopped at the traffic lights to the left and figured out my direction is the
right (because of this diner which has the palm trees surrounded by luminary in
front of it which I had to pass by the left).
I am ready for the weekend.
22.01.2001 (mo), Atlanta
If you want to work in America, you need to have a social
security identification. So I went to the Social Security Office.
As usual I got lost. It was so tricky because the mapquest (www.mapquest.com) scheme indicates to drive 285 East then use exit LaVista Rd on ramp drive left, then right. That was (as usual) too complex for me. So I headed left and drove on until I had a look at the map. So all the way back (LaVista Rd is indeed a very nice street, use the occasion to drive it down (or up) if you are in Atlanta.) After that misadventure it was quite easy to find the location. I took the lift up to the 8th floor, and get in the office. Instead of "Welcome." the first sign said "No weapons beyond this line." (there was no line). Because I am not used to carry a weapon I get in with my smile-never-carry-a-weapon-smile. In the office there were apparently no weapons but a lot of (handwritten) signs. The first one notes that currently the office is not able to issue social security ids for those people who had an visa of type B1, B4 or A3. That cause me a little trouble because I had to put out my passport to have a look at my visa type. Unfortunately I couldn't figure out whether I am an B1, B4 or A3 visa owner.
So I decided to ignore the sign and go on to the next one. This sign was superimposed over the machinery which spend the numbers. (I was so sure I had to pick up a number and wait until my number appears on the display. )
The sign points out: "Get a number from the officer at the desk behind you.". So I turned around. There was a desk (approximately 1,5 m away) and in front of it an officer (with weapon). While I still tried to imagine what somebody may like to rob in a social security office he ask me something. Of course I didn't get a word of it. So I answered with my favorite vocabulary: "Sorry?".
"Mnnn, mnn, nnn, nnmnnnn?".
"Aeeeh. No I am here to get a social security id."
"Yeah." he sigh, "application?"
"Application?" he noticed that I may would force him to move some parts of his body. That cause a sense of angriness in his voice.
"Sorry. I didn't get the point. What application?" (I am an computer scientist, a application is a piece of software which is able to perform a dedicated functionality.)
"Application!" he leaned back to his desk, pick up an piece of paper and waggle it in front of my face.
I am not as stupid that I try twice to get smart with a man who is bored about his job and wears a weapon. So I took the "application" and smiled "thank you.". And in the same second I was forgotten by him (eliminated from his memory). Now I was able to enter the office. The office is approximately 100 square meter on the right five windows with chairs in front (2 of the counters closed) the center of the room rows of chairs like a cinema or theatre aligned to the television below the roof (and the number display (87) right of the television). The television was switched off (no reason not to look at it). Along the offices windows there was row of people now and then the first in the row goes on to one of the desks. The entire room was FULL of people not two of them the same breed or color. Korean, Chinese, Japanese (Asian fraction), blacks (African fraction), Mexicans, Brazilians, Puerto's (south American fraction) and me (European fraction). Most of them sitting on the roughly 30 chairs, the rest along the windows waiting for a free desk.
I found a free place at a writing desk (left wall) and had a look at the "application" (the 10 steps to the desk gave me time to remember some other possible translations for "application" and so I was well prepared.)
The form is (for a German who is used to fill out forms and "applications") quite easy to see through. Name, address, "have you ever before tried to apply a id" (no), Childs (none), "if you going to acquire the social security id for a other pers..." (no). I finished the completion of the form and had a look at the procedures around me. All of the people on the chairs had numbers. May the numbers are used to identify the chair they are allowed to sit on? No, the display denounce 88 but there are less than 88 chairs. I am a brave guy (I try to be) so I went back to the officer and asked him: "do I need to get a number now?". He looks at me like a grandfather looks at his grandson after he has trapped his first rabbit (stupid like dung but may he can become something). "... just enter the row." he nodded. (No I was able to see through the procedure.) I joined the row (at the end).
In all that was it. I stood in the row for 2 hours, sometimes I moved a step forward tried to be happy about the fact the end of the row now had grown to the door (twice the size as I joined it). I had interesting talking to my row-neighbors Steve in front of my and Wilma behind me. Especially Sally (Wilma's three year old daughter) was able to keep the time short. (Approximately for 30 minutes then Sally began to get bored and that means she started to grizzle that absorbed the 30 entertaining minutes and proves me again what huge endurance a mother has to have.)
(By the way: as far as I could see I was the only foreigner in the entire office, that reminds me what huge America is.)
Then I heard the microphone voice "next one in the row to desk 5" (that was ME!)
I go straight to desk 5, sit down and handle him my (perfect filled out) "application". He started to hack it into his keyboard, asked twice (especially about "Fey" which is the maiden name of my mother and "Gerhard" which is the first name of my father).
Then I had to sign the print out (now I am born in "Freiberg" instead of "Freiburg" but that is a negligible detail). I signed it, wish him good bye and went out. (2 hour waiting for a 5 minute procedure).
I will get my social security id by USMail in the next 10 days.
27.01.2001 (sa), Atlanta
I was shopping this day. I buyed nothing but a few books in Barnes&Nobles booksellers. The only foreign fiction books they have are French or Spanish. Anyway I get "The fifth Elephant" (Terry Pratchett) 20% price reduced.
28.01.2001 (su), Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin (Superbowl Sunday)
This is quite a cold place. Now I am in the fridge of the
states. A place in the center of nowhere. We arrived at 8:00 pm (central time).
The whole trip my colleague went from plane to television to plane (same here).
I have no idea of football (that is a questionable game because if they would
like to be real men they had to play rugby), but I get a few impressions about
the importance of the Superbowl.
The bartender welcome of the day (as we went in into the airports bar) was "24/7, Ravens play defense like hell, you just missed the replay of Ravens last touchdown...".
So we had the pleasure to see the entire 4th quarter of the Superbowl. The Baltimore Ravens vs. New York Giants. And the Giants get pissed. I like it if underdogs get the game.
I learned a lot about football today (the bartender of the airport bar and Thomas did their best).
29.01.2001 (mo), Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin
"Shining" without mountains.
I'm here in the "Mead Inn" hotel in Wisconsin Rapid (middle of Wisconsin), the hotel is quite as a casket. I smoked the last cigarette of the day in front of one of the four (!) entrances, no car passed by (12 pm) and no one else was in the lobby. (I was waiting for Jack Nicholson, smiling above his axe.).
However if you ever be in Wisconsin Rapids, go to the Cafe Molino (inside of the hotel Mead Inn). They have excellent Pizza (really excellent). Nice furnitured and excellent service. (And don't get scared if you are the only person on the entire floor, sitting in a 100 seats restaurant.)
As well you are free to ask for a fried egg on top of your pizza (like Thomas did), they (now) are used to serve this. If you enjoy your pizza remember the fabulous discussion Thomas did to convince the pizza cook to try to put an egg on top of a pizza (he has to have three times a look at his pizza because the pizza cook was going to get nervous because the pizza (his pizza) was finished and the egg doesn't get fried).
29.01.2001 (mo), Central Wisconsin Airport, Wausau, Wisconsin
Ice rain. Turboprops cannot fly in ice rain.... So we are
here. Now the plain has delay of one hour. The last loudspeaker message informs
audience about the plain (which should head from Wausau to Milwaukee) which has
to return to Chicago because of the weather conditions over Wausau. I told
Thomas to be optimistic and I told the lady of Avis (which informed us first
about the "strange" weather) that "we will BE lucky". I
think I missed to dance the rain dance. (Or I did and the weather tries to be
obedient. I don't remember exactly, is the rain dance to avoid or to please for
However, the rain rules. (By the way, the Central Wisconsin Airport restaurant serves excellent "Runway Burger", especially the French fries are excellent. Am I going to write a restaurant guide?)
Come on, rain stop, sun (or moon) shine. We will get home this day!
29.01.2001 (mo), Wausau, Holliday Inn
We didn't get it.
Welcome to the Holliday Inn in Wausau, Wisconsin. (But luck was there, we got nearly the last free rooms.)
I tried one of the "Adult movie offer" of the Holyday Inn. It was definitely worth the 10 dollars. Films like that are the usual stuff of a RTL2 late night in Germany (does Americans know that? That may could increase tourism from the USA to Germany.). But: you learn can to speak English through this movies. They are talking quite accented and exact (and sloooow). May they try to meet the intellect of the average XX movie spectators. (You just need to beep out the f-words.)
30.01.2001 (tu), Atlanta
Back "home" (at last).
We arrived at 1:55 pm in Atlanta. All planes was (nearly) on time but we had a 3 hour stop over in Chicago.
I tried the "Target" superstore I buyed shower gel, toothpaste, toothbrush and a lamp. Then I mentioned the lamp may needs a lampshade so I searched for one (successful) but as I returned the trolley was gone. So I took up a purchase basket and started again (thereby I missed to get the toothbrush) but I found a much more beautiful lamp (+lampshade) (chrome). In addition I found a bordcase, light bulb and pepper and salt dispenser (chrome) (a lady told me "excellent choice" at the cash desk as far as I understood her she was talking about the lamp).
Tanja told me that I will get a new television set into my apartment tomorrow (because the one I currently have has a quite own understanding of black-level.)
For dinner I used the drive thru of Arby's. I choosed the Cordon Bleu burger. In Germany this is a quite complex piece of meat: cheese and ham among two slices of meat, fixed with a few toothpicks. If you try to get both slices of meat well done the cheese is not melted, if the cheese is melted the meat is scorched and the one day you get it managed the cheese runs down because two of the toothpicks are broken. In America a Cordon Bleau burger is bread, chicken meat topped by ham, topped by cheese, topped by bread. This way anybody can do it. Americans are not the folk which is going for the challenge, really. (But it tastes good, check it out.)
30.01.2001 (tu), Atlanta
Jepp, I got a new TV set. Thx to Dutch quality of work
(manufactured in Taiwan). Now I am able to see even night-filmed scenes of 98
channels (three of them encoded). I feel remembered to Pink Floyds "The
Wall" ("... and I got 13 channels of shit on TV to choose
But - to be fair - now I am able to see WB36 with Seinfeld, Friends and Spin City (10 pm to 11:30 pm). That's all what I need (at least on television).