If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
Harry S. Truman

February 2001


01.02.2001 (th), Detroit

Detroit again and again (:-) remembers me of Sofia (Bulgaria). The streets are full of potholes. Along the road one closed factory by the other, with broken windows. Even the cars  sometimes look like the cars in Sofia. But in Sofia there are less Arby's and McDonalds and KFC drive thrus along the road.
The car I got from the rental-car service was a Chevy, but a Chevy Metro. That is a tank in the clothes of a little boy. But anyway, it get me successful thru the traffic.
And - by the way - I DIDN'T LOST THE WAY! (That is the first time I get directly - without driving east instead of west or south instead of north - to the "aimed" target location. Even on the way from my home to the Airport in Atlanta I missed the exit to 85 south so I had to drove down 85 south for a while before I got the chance to turn around.)
But: the way to our office in Detroit is "leaving the rental-car service, get on 94 east, use exit Telegraph Road then drive down (or up) Telegraph Road north for 40 minutes until you reach Southfield and the (remember able) office building on the left, turn around (Telegraph Rd south) for 30 meters and use the driveway right (I am not used to get lost on a parking place - except the one time on the parking place of the Perimeter Mall in Atlanta, but that is a really huge one!)
After our meeting (and a quite long discussion about companies strategy on the American market), we went to "Fishbones" in Detroit Southfield. Creole dishes. I tell you: EXCELLENT food. If you ever be in Detroit go to Fishbones and try especially the Gambo Ya Ya soup.


02.02.2001 (fr), Detroit

Had a very successful and interesting meeting with the guys of an European ERP provider (technical staff). After that I went back to the Detroit Metropolitan Airport (and again I did it without any missed exit!)
I hurried for the earlier flight to Atlanta (3:15 pm) but after reaching gate C9 (that is a hell long way to run) the gate's display points out for Memphis (4:00 pm). So I get into the opinion I'd read C9 instead of C19 so hurry on proceed to gate C19... but C19 does not display a flight at all. Then I stopped in front of the information screens and now (because I was in the opinion I missed to reach the flight on time anyway and there is no need to hurry) I was able to read the huge description title which tolds me "Arrivals" and "Atlanta 3:15 pm, C9" (C9 blinking). 
OK, I wait for my booked flight at 5:00 pm.


04.02.2001 (su), Atlanta

Suddenly a book felt down from the mantelpiece. I raised my head and began to say "Pushkin, let that..." and was suddenly remembered: there is no cat in this home who can pitch down things to the ground.  Books can fall down without cats, that is new to me.
I'm getting homesick here. 


06.02.2001 (su), Atlanta

First time that I made a fire in my chimney. That is nice. Now I miss Annette and my cats. Would be nice, I think Annette would like that. (Pushkin for sure would get scared about the fire :-)
This day was one of the kind which requires a "off" switch. But always remember Sartre: "You can not always walk on the pinnacles, the valleys also have paths.".
I definitely getting homesick.


07.02.2001 (mi), Atlanta

I hate the guy who has configured our web and mail server. 
As I come in the office this day Christa informed about a power blackout half an hour ago and since that time she had no web access. I checked the server and found the exchange server and proxy server cannot start. So I had a look at the event view (points out the proxy services couldn't be started due to initialization error - thank you Microsoft, that is the information that helps me fixing the issue) then I tried to restart the services manually, nothing worked. 
The proxy services could not be started due to initialization error in a system dll (which was present and correct), the exchange services was not able to start because a service (or group) they depend on was not started before (thx again Microsoft, if you know there is a service which could not be started properly, why don't telling stupids like me WHICH service?).
So I tried this and that and nothing worked (even Bernd - usually called the great BE - was not able to help me) at last I reinstalled the proxy server after that the Proxy Service starts up, but Exchange Server (the one real important thing) doesn't startup anyway. Then (in total 4 hours later) I mentioned all of the Exchange Server services use the "Administrator" account to startup (I remembered MS usually install a special service account to be independent from password changes on standard accounts). So I retyped the Administrators password in all of the 6 Exchange Server services and look there, it starts up. After that "success" I reviewed the event log (while swearing at Microsoft why they don't tell me about that simple login failure) and found (oh Murphy) the error message "Exchange transmission agent" (that is the service which the other exchange services depends on) "cannot be started due to login denied." I have no idea how I was able to ignore it the last 10 times I had a look at the event view.
I hate the guy who has configured the web and mail server.


08.02.2001 (th), Atlanta

How could people invent a dish by combining strawberries and chicken? The Jamaican did, and they call it one of their national favorite dishes. However, the chicken is excellent but the strawberry dip is strange (that is a nice word for "baeehhh"). But I tried... and survived. With strawberry dip that is easy because the color at its own signals "attention, I am a native-only-like-me foreign dish, taste me with caution - at your own risk). (Bridgetown Grill, Roswell Road, Atlanta).
OK, that is it, I tried each diners and restaurants  along Rosswell Road direction north right side of the street between Northside Tower and AMLI apartments (where I live) except the Mexican restaurants and most of the restaurants on the left side.


10.02.2001 (sa), Atlanta

I had a shopping tour through the Lennox Mall. I didn't like Lennox Mall because it took me nearly half an hour to find a parking place before I mentioned there is a huge multi level parking deck behind the building. 
In total I left 200 dollars this day, buyed a few sweater and T-shirts, a coffeemaker, window cleaner (Saturday morning I saw the sun shining through my window first time, well trying to shine through the dust at the window), a belt, a wick and flintstones. 

11.02.2001 (su), Atlanta

I think I am going to loose my diction. All the time I am in Atlanta I drive past that illuminated sign  "Flashers (Adult Entertainment)" at Roswell Road (because I am used to work to the darkness ;-). 
This lonely Saturday evening I was ready to try what Americans call adult entertainment.
I get in (after using the valet parking = 3 dollars) and found all of my imagination confirmed. In a small room with abstruse light a desk with a man behind it. Although the desk was as high as my  chest this guy seems to be HUGE (and actual he WAS huge). I switched on my I-know-I-am-smaller-than-you smile and step before the desk. I had the entrance fee (10 dollars) ready (because I was so clever to ask the guy from the valet parking what the entrance fee is). He looked at me than he said "ID!". (I am security office approved, hah!) I gave him my id (German passport because I've still no American driving license). He looked into my passport, than gave it back. The fact that he doesn't see any necessity to move more parts of his body than his head proves that I was allowed to get in.
In total the Flashers is about 100 square meters, two stages, a bar, a lot of chairs a few tables, approximately 15 slightly dressed ladies, approx 5 dressed ladies carrying trays and a lot of guys. I directly went to the bar (to give the impression that I am used to be here and know exactly what is to do when entering a table-dance establishment). Then - armed with a Corona (5 dollars) - I found a place for my body, fixed by the ropy floor, and starting to deplore all the guys who are in need of visiting a strip bar on a Saturday evening. First thing I found out was: if the girls are dancing on the stages you can fetch out a dollar (note) and if the lady recognize it, she dances over and gives you the opportunity to put it below her garter. (At last the garter and the dollars are the only things the ladies wear on the stage.) 
Next I examined: the ladies were ready to give you a "private" session (as private as you can be with a naked lady dancing 3 cm in front of you and approx 100 guys sitting next to you) but I never mentioned how much you have to pay for it. 
I know, this is not the reason you are going to a strip bar for, but if you keep tab on the woman's faces while they are dancing (no matter if private session or on the stage), you will find yourself remembered at assembly line workers. And that is it. The proof: if they mention that you are not looking at... well... you are watching their faces not the "rest", they start to smile as would they like to say "I see, you see through the game." AND: they start to prove: YOU that you are NOT seeing through the game. Even if you are not putting any dollar beneath their garter they pay you attention... as long as you put a dollar below their garter (or as long as another guy is readying a dollar). I know this is a proof of my chauvinism but: to PUT a dollar below a garter IS fun. (And - feminists calm down - if man are so stupid and unripe to have fun while putting a dollar below a nearly nothing for real nothing, there HAVE TO be a few woman who benefit from that.) 
Indeed, some of the ladies are able to look at you with a quite... interesting... this-is-a-bedroom-and-you-am-waiting-for-you expression in their eyes but in this situation my feet was trying to move and the opposition of the gluey floor at my position remembered my where I was.
Later that evening I got a few explanations from a Spanish guy (I gave his friend my chair to allow him to get his "private" session). The private dancing cost 10 dollars, that makes it easy to resist because 10 dollars are more than 20 Marks (and: I am not used to taste but don't touch ;-).
Summarized I had a very amusing evening (till 2 am) topped by a second Corona for which is hasn't to pay for (I helped a bypassing waitress by preventing her tray for contact with the ground thereby soiling my newly buyed sweater). Ensured into my sensual self-control (in comparison to a few guys who "enjoyed" their private sessions, ensured indeed). Remembered what different man and woman are (confessing: also remembered how good woman look in comparison to man). And deeply depressed about the power woman can take of man by just looking at them or putting down a few of their clothes... not of me, of course.


12.02.2001 (tu), Atlanta

What do you think, is the meaning of a additional lane for left turn off?
I am pretty sure Americans think those lanes are some kind of parking place while they have to wait for the left turn traffic lights switch to green. They drive down the left straight ahead lane, then brake nearly until stand still, than steering to the left, leaving the straight ahead lane as much as it is needed to be away from it but blocking it, so all of the other cars (which want to drive straight ahead) has to wait as well.
Most of the streets in Atlanta have a additional middle lane for left turns (and for cars which turn left and has to find a gap in the runny traffic). But what happens? They drive down the road, then brake near to stagnation (forcing all other cars behind them - and I AM used to drive behind them - to brake as well), THEN change to the middle lane NO matter whether the entire middle lane (as far as you can see down or up the road) is clear or not. 
No wonder you got all this traffic jams in this country if you drive like that. In Germany we have traffic jams too, but we have it because of substantial reasons. People who want to have a look at the accident on the other side of the road, for instance. Or old ladies which can't remember whether the acceleration is on the left and brake on the right and what the hell the middle pedal is for (You Americans remember? In former times there was cars which had three, not two, pedals.)
And - dear America - if traffic lights switch to green, that means: "DRIVE ON damnd!"


12.02.2001 (tu), Atlanta

Wow. That is the third glass of Publix Tortilla Salsa. And the third time I took the "hot" one. That took me 10 minutes to find the hot version because near the Tortilla chips there are always only medium and soft salsa dips. But this time I got a really hot one. Wow.


14.02.2001 (we), Chicago

Have a nice Valentines day.
That' s it. Sit and wait. Now it is 17:00 (local time). I am waiting for my flight to Wausau. The Chicago O'Hare airport is a total smoking free area. How nice of them. I've to wait 4 hours for the flight. Now I am sitting in front of the airport in th "Designated Smoking Shelter" in front of the Terminal 1 while the traffic is passing by. F-beep- cold here, but if you like to smoke you should be ready to suffer. I was early enough to reach the earlier flight to Wisconsin (3:55), and I hurried to reach the gate (no need to say: gate B22 is the very last in the entire building). Was there on time, asked for change and got a negative answer (only on stand-by). So I had to wait two hours but they never call my name. The weather here is cold and wet, well applicative to a depressive mood. If my luck goes on, I will get the flight at 6:55 with the same delay than the earlier one, 3.55, which has left Chicago at 4:50. I don't know how the weather in Wisconsin is, but if I am right, I will finish this journey after a 2 hour ice ride from Wausau (Central Wisconsin Airport) to Wisconsin Rapid.
No other explanation possible: I like my job.


14.02.2001 (we), Chicago

Still waiting.
But now I got a coffee and even it is not warm here, it is warmer than outside in the "smoking shelter". Here is something strange going on. Have you ever noticed, the loud speaker messages are only understandable if they are going to blame passengers? Just now the lady informs the huge queue in front of her desk about the "impossible rebooking", I get every word of her speech. The last few hours I'd to "stand-by" I had to go three times to the desk because I understand something like "...onsin, .... stairway.... ank.... standby." And all the times they was totally amused shaking their heads (even if they asked them to come around the desk and try to understand what ... ming...rghh the loud spe...). 
The four displays points out Kalamazoo (delayed, due to late inbound), South Bend (canceled) Bloomington, IL (canceled, Happy Valentines Day) and Peoria (canceled, Happy Valentines Day). Kalamazoo now is boarding. The departures information screen is pointing out Wausau as 6:55 on time. (Still hoping.)


14.02.2001 (we), Wisconsin Rapids

I'm here, at last. The delay was only one our. But enough delay to reach the hotel at just the time the kitchen has closed (10:36, kitchen closes 10:30). But I am not totally out of luck: I picked up a nearly complete bag of M&M from Atlanta and at the reception I pick up an apple. That's my pre-birthday dinner: apple with M&M.
To find Wisconsin Rapids was quite easy (from Wausau drive south route 51, at Stephens Point head west on the route 51 until you reach Wisconsin Rapids). To find the hotel was not that easy. I found myself suddenly in the outskirts of the town, turn around and then had to wait exact 9 minutes until the longest train I've ever seen had passed (he passed quite slow). Once Murphy's law was proven it took my five further minutes to find the hotel. 
I am too tired to search for a diner. Well, not too tired to search for the diner, but too tired to look for my way back to the hotel. 


15.02.2001 (th), Wisconsin Rapids

Happy birthday.
Had dinner with a few guys of our customer here. That was nice, not to interesting not to boring (they didn't know it is my birthday). My cell phone is fooling me, sometimes it displays "New voice message" but if I try to phone the voice box I hear my own voice which is telling me who I am and that I can leave a message after the tone. In Wisconsin Rapids one step is deciding about connecting to network or loosing connection. That doesn't help. It is 9:30 now and I will go asleep. Jepp, I am getting old.


16.02.2001 (fr), Wausau, Central Wisconsin Airport

Would you like to guess? My plane is delayed (should 5:15, will 5:50). The lady at the desk (United) is in opinion that I will have no problems reaching my flight to Atlanta. The Atlanta flight leaves Chicago at 7:45 pm. But a s "backup" she booked me also to the 8:55 flight from Chicago to Atlanta. When she is sure that I will reach the earlier flight, why does she offer to book me to the later flight as well? OK, we will see.
I had quite successful days yesterday and today, the customer is satisfied and quite relieved about the current state of the project. I am on my way back to Atlana (Applebee's is waiting). The sun is shining (although it is a quite strong wind here and the temperature is -10 °C.


16.02.2001 (fr), Somewhere over Wisconsin heading to Chicago

Ha. This flight assistant is cool. She told us "We are very sorry about the delay. We was ready but O'Hare was not.". Then she started a quite entertaining show how to use the seatbelt and the oxygen mask. At last: the coffee she prepared for me got the correct mixture of milk and sugar. I'm impressed, if she were 20 years younger I may would think about... forget that.


16.02.2001 (fr), Chicago, O'Hare airport

I said it once, and I say it again. I hate this f-beep-ing airport. I get out of the plane, hurried to the gate B9 to get my flight - even had time enough to stop at the restrooms. The boarding nearly was finished so I praised my luck, went through the boarding check. And with the words "ohh, this is a duplicate, would you please proceed to the desk, Sir." luck was over.
So I "proceeded" to the desk.
They told me that the booking for my backup flight has caused that the system to took my off my origin flight, and now the plane was full. He asked me to follow him and so we go through the ramp to the plane and I had to wait a until he went in the plane to check out whether there was any seat left. That was not real a hopeful wait. I know about Murphy...
Now I'm sitting here in "Wolfgang Puck's Express Pizza. I tried to eat the Pizza (paid by United because the gave me a 10 dollar voucher), but it was too fat. No Applebee's this day.
I hate this airport. To be booked at Economy Plus class (5 inch of additional legroom) does not make it better.


16.02.2001 (fr), Chicago, O'Hare airport

I hate, hate, hate this airport. Now in the plane (5 inch of additional legroom) and nothing is moving. The captain informed us that he is ready, the plane is ready, but Atlanta has closed all traffic due to heavy wind. (No need to say: my origin flight has left Chicago on time.) We will get the next update in 45 minutes.


17.02.2001 (sa), Atlanta

I reached my flat at 1:59 am and went straight to bed. I'm really getting old because I slept until 3 pm this day. Now I am going to get feed by Thomas and Tanja (Lasagne). I checked my mails and the New York appointment is delayed but in compensation Neville (one of our salesman's) ask me to go to Toronto next week.


21.02.2001 (we), Atlanta

If you get a phone call in Germany, you it will happen like this:
    "MyCompany, this is Christopher, hello."
    "Hello, this is Bob Smith from WeDoEverything Corporation, may I speak to Christopher."
    "Yes, sure, this is Christopher talking."
    "Oh, excellent, may..."
But this is not the American way. You get phone calls like this: 
    "MyCompany, this is Christopher, hello."
    "Hello, what is your zip code."
    "... aehhhm sorry, may I ask what this is about?"
    "Yes," (wondering about the unexpected reply) "I call you to get your zip code right now."
    "Yes, that's the part I can follow you, but what is this about."
    "I need your zip code."
    "... yes, but what for do you need our zip code."
    "This is Steve, we got a shipment for you but I need your zip code to complete the address."
    "Ahh." (to flabbergasted to resist) "it is 30328". (oppressing the question what company needs to ship something to us and why they have our address but not our zip code).
    "Yes, I know but I need your zip code."
"... aehm ddd... aehm. But this is our zip code."
    "Yes, but there are four additional digits I need."
    "Oh, but zip codes usually have 5 digits, haven't they?"
    "Yes, but there are four additional digits which gives a more exact location description, they invented the 9 digit zip codes a few years ago."
    "Oh, I'm sorry but I never have seen or used a different zip code for our location."
    "Yes (he really said yes again), ok, I see whether I find another source to get the zip code. Thank you."
I'm not sure how long I listened to the silent line. I suddenly was able to combine this phone call with two other calls I "answered" this day, both with near the same content but never the same high visualization grade. (First tried to get our address, and get it at last, second tried to find out which area the address is located in.) This last call was the "boss-call". The two other guys for sure told their manager, who was going to blame them for the still not shipped something, to do it by himself. I can still listen to their voices in my mind "... whatever, I will not call that stupid bastard again, if you like to get this stuff shipped, call him by yourself..."


22.02.2001 (th), Atlanta

OK, Tanja ordered a long-distance plan at AT&T for me. This ability should be available starting with Feb. 6th. But it wasn't. That is nothing special in America (the country of service where the customer is king). Now (only 16 days later), I got a phone call of AT&T. The lady told me that she needs to have the ID of my phone to be able to transfer the service from BellSouth to AT&T "may you mind if I conference BellSouth in", no I wouldn't.
The BellSouth lady (that's a females domain, isn't it?) get the point quite faster than I and asked for the ID. I told them (now both of them) that I have no ID. Than she asked me whether this is a business or private line. I told here I didn't know. I am private but the company helped me to get the line, so may it is a business line. So she asked me again "but I have a business account for this line." and I - because I am such a clever guy - asked here "may this is the apartment company" (because it took three attempts to make the phone working at all, and this tasks was performed by AMLI, my apartment home company). "Yes, this is correct." (I did it, I did it!).
"AT&T are you listening."
"We need the ID of the line owner to transfer the service."
"User are you listening." (she said that, and it took me a second to recognize that she was trying to talk to me)
"We need the ID..."
"So I have to talk to AMLI to do what?"
"They need to call us...."
"... sorry for interrupting: calling BellSouth" (they'd nearly the same voices)
"Yes. They need to call us to transfer the service."
"Hmmm. But why couldn't you call AMLI to ask for the ID?"
"I already have the ID, I need the agreement of the line owner. That is impossible because AMLI is not the  initiator of the transfer."
"Neither am..." (if tell them Tanja has ordered the service this may get worse) "OK, so I have to go to AMLI, ask them if they could call you to transfer the service to AT&T, than you will call AT&T - AT&T are you still listening?"  (I'm sorry but I couldn't resist)"
"... what was that?"
"This is BellSouth, AT&T need to call us to initiate the transfer of the service again."
"We will do that."
"OK, I will go to AMLI, talk to them, call BellSouth, then call AT&T?"
"OK than, thanks for your help."
I never will be able to call Germany from my - sorry AMLIs - phone.


24.02.2001 (sa), Atlanta

Plumber, tailor, carpenter, mailmen, joiner, ...
Why the hell haven't I I selected a normal job, with normal issues and normal solutions. There is a hole in the pipe - use the tape. This table is waggling - curtail the legs until they have equal length (or until you reach the table underside).
What I have to do is: reinvent the pipe and rebuild the table with three legs.
It is now 2:30 in the morning. I started work today at 9:30 and I am deeply depressed about this situation. Had dinner at Applebee's (with notebook running). That is the basic truth: I like my job while I hate it. Or: I like my job because I hate it.


24.02.2001 (sa), Atlanta

Money pits.
I have 6 cheques with more than 5.000 USD worth and no chance to cash them. This is the country of money. The nation with the biggest gross national product in the world but they handle money like the unavowed animals you see in the zoo, I am talking about that kind of animal which makes you frown and force you to read the sign which describes the animal (and especially points out the name of the animal). I tried 4 different banks, all of them feel unable to open an account (because my social security id is restricted for work only) or to cash the cheques. Murphy's law: the only bank I cannot find a branch office of, is the Bank of America which I had to go to cash the cheques (that's the only thing all of the staff  in all of the banks agreed). And the staff in all of the banks - I swear - has the same behavior when looking at cheques, that kind of behavior which makes everybody in the nearer area sure: this guy has not a doubt what to do right now. They look at that paperwork like they've never seen something like that before.
On Monday I will go the Bank of America, I will tell you about that adventure, be sure. 
I picked up my suits from the cleaner service (19 USD) thereby I found a diner which is on the right side of Rosswell road (driving north) I haven't tried yet.
I am always working to finish my "Roswell Rd Gourmet Guide"  so I went in. If you ever be to "Locos" try the "Bayon Burger" spicy and delicious (6,99 USD) (but a little small).
The rest of this day is working, I've to finish a presentation (I promised Melody to finish it before she leaves to LA Sunday afternoon), two customer with "serious" issues are waiting, I've to finish a file to database component and need to install our latest system version.


25.02.2001 (su), Atlanta

Nice, the origin title of that Spielberg fish movie is "Jaws" (for you German guys: "Der weisse Hai" heißt eigentlich "die Kiefer" (plural)). On Friday I've seen "Trading Places" which is in German the knights of luck" (die Glücksritter). Thanks god, "Pretender" is "Pretender" and "Ally McBeal" is "Ally McBeal". Could you believe it, since I am in America I never was able to see Ally in original English. Finished the presentation for Melody, still have to finish the SQL tool. Got a mail from one of the customers, thank you very much... and a second one "still not working with new issues". 
Translated: forget about the origin week planning, spend your Monday in solving the problem and shift all of your tasks through the week to the next weekend.
But it can't get that worse, I have only the next Saturday to give because I have to fly to Detroit on Sunday noon to drive on to Toronto with Neville. (So the week looks like: Atlanta, Atlanta, Detroit, Detroit, New York-Atlanta, Atlanta, Detroit-Toronto.)
BUT: I defined the week from 26. to 30. of march to be in Germany. Listen to me you guys: this is an appointment too.


26.02.2001 (mo), Atlanta

Back on the ground again. Had a 9 oz. Sirloin pepperchar at Applebee's, now I feel better. Got a letter from Germany (address hand written) and was aware "of the cream on the day" but it wasn't that bad, well, it was not bad at all. Annette's' mother wrote it to wish me the very best for the next living year. Thx a lot, that saves the day. No, not only that: as I had to wait in front of the elevator today (going for my cigarette break) a man and a woman beside me had a quite serious discussion - in German.
I missed the first part of the conversation but I figured out quite fast that the guy heavily tries to impress the lady. Both multiple times looked at me but I didn't understand a word ;-) (Sanna & Ulli, do you remember the two German couples in Val'Isere, talking about their son and his current girlfriend?)
As the elevator arrives I went in (Beg your pardon? Thx. Have a nice day.) They followed inside the elevator (smiling at me and I smiled back) and he ask her for her plans this night. (Keep in mind, they talked German.)
"Night?!" she giggled, "You mean evening!?" 
"No" (his voice gets two octaves deeper, "I know what I mean." (hohohoho). 
(Both give me a glance.).
"I don't know." she answered (do I need to translate?)
"OK, when will you finish your meeting with Smith?"
(glance, only she)
"Approximately at six."
(glance, he)
The elevator stopped at floor 4 and I swear I go 3 to 5 times a day down to smoke a cigarette and NEVER before the down riding elevator had stopped before the lobby! (Murphy is a bitch -  and he gets the smell of a auspicious situation;-) Two guys of the building security went in, one of them recognized me (because I met him on a Sunday as I went in and he went out) "Morning, Sir, how are you doing? (morn', Sir, hau're ye duin?). ("Fine, how are you?") The two Germans must've been heavily concentrated at  their conversation because they didn't get my German accent. (Or may they always are much further with their thoughts than their bodies was.)
"Should we go to eat something." (again German).
"What about that restaurant across Peachtree Dunwoody?"
"The restaurant on the right?"
"Yes, the name is..., a..., ..."
"Cheqquers", I said, avoiding any smile while the elevator door opens, both looked at me for a millisecond, then they  started laughing and she said "Wie gemein!" (in international language: "Bastard"), then I went out. (But I mentioned the comprehensionless glance the two security guys give each other.)
You can say whatever you want about Germans but they keep their humor even in an awkward situation. I hope you guys have a good night, I think you deserved it. 
Oh: I wasn't able to get to the Bank of America on time, the adventure is delayed.


27.02.2001 (tu), Atlanta

Banana Republic of America.
I was at AMLI apartment homes this morning, quite neat people there. I asked them for the keys to the new apartment we have ordered for Stefan (a colleague who come over from Germany for a year) they should be ready to pick it up. But they wasn't. Indeed the people - as neat as they was the confused they was. At least they figured out the keys are not ready yet, because the flat is not furnitured yet, and to do this, they need the keys (that is a logic I can follow).
(I was not brave enough to ask about alternative keys to the flat.)
OK, they told me (at least there was three of them behind the desk talking to me), that I can pick up the keys on Friday after 4 pm. And I told them that I am unable to pick them up at 4pm because I have to be at the airport at 4:25pm to pick him up.
After a short staff internal discussion (Atlanta slang), they nodded at me (all of them) that I also can pick up the keys at Friday morning but I should give them a call on Wednesday.
OK, you wanted it like that, I will tell Tanja about that and she will phone you.
And: then I started to explain my issue with the telephone. ("... and Bellsouth told me that AMLI is the owner of the line and has to allow the transfer of service from BellSouth to AT&T...").
So the three grow to four (a lady which was able to say "Hello, how are you, nice to see you, have a nice day!" with only one nod, no words) than - after a short discussion and a few glances at me which told me "I really feel pity about your issues" (they were really neat) - I heard a few times the expression "Stacey", and after they agreed, they walked away. But one of them went back and explained the codeword: "Stacey" is the lady with AMLI which is responsible for the telephone administration. Ah, I got it.
Later I called Stacey (neat too). And she explained me that AMLI owned phones are restricted for local calls only. (Therefore they are free of charge, cause AMLI had a general contract with BellSouth for all of those phones basic fees and local calls are free of charge anyway.)
That explains a lot. AND: She told me that I need to transfer the ownership of the phone to my person: "I can do that right now for you! Should I?". That makes my deeply breathing for a second. A service offered immediate? She is able to set it up now?... than I remembered: "That would be nice, Stacey, but I think I got a problem to pay the bills. I cannot get an American bank account so I have no account to transfer money and no account to cash cheques on.". She agreed ("AT&T will not accept the transfer without bank account anyway. That is a big problem you have, I am sorry")
Yes I am sorry, too.
"But you know what? If you go to a super market you can buy telephone cards!" 
"Yes, but than I need to find a public phone where I can use it."
"No, not that kind of phone cards, this type is not very popular in the US. You can buy phone cards which has an ID on it, you just type in the ID before you dial your number and it works, until the prepaid volume  is done."
"Wowowow, let me get that: I prepay the card and then I am able to dial from any phone I like? Even AMLI phones?"
"Yes, sure. You can get them in any super market."
"Wow, that sounds to simple for this country."
"Beg your pardon?!"
"Aehhhm. No I wonder about... anyway. Thank you VERY much for your help, Stacey."
"You are very welcome." (I could hear the smile of blanket laughing in her voice.)
OK, Stacy, I will go to Krogers this evening. First I try to get my cheques cashed at Bank of America, then I try to find someone who sells me phone cards. I hope I can stand that.


27.02.2001 (tu), Atlanta

I apologize, I really apologize.
Here is the update for the bank adventure:
I drove to Krogers and as I got out of the car, I suddenly mentioned that I didn't lost my way even I've been the first time here and Krogers is not beside Roswell Road. (T&T told me there is a Bank of America branch office inside of Krogers (as SunTrust is inside of Publix.) OK, it was raining, may Murphy was satisfied getting me wet.
I went in, head right, jepp, there is really a Bank of America.
The lady was on the phone after she'd hang up I told her my story.
"...bla, bla.. blabll... so the only thing I really like to is to cash this cheques, if you cannot cash them all, I will take what you can give me..."
"You have no account at Bank of America?"
"No." (no account, no money? Christopher, the American way is to say something like "not exactly but...")
"And you wouldn't like to open an account?"
"Oh, yeah I would but I can't, because I've only a restricted social security id."
And there it was: the same comprehensionless facial expression I am really used to since I am in America.
"My social security id is restricted for work only." I explained her.
"Yes, a work id, but you paying taxes in America!?"
"Yes I did."
"Then it will be a pleasure for the Bank of America to welcome you as our client." she smiled.
Now she looked at the same comprehensionless facial expression I am really used to since I am in America. 
But as you know: I am a let's-try-guy.
So I sat down and let her start the data input, indeed I had a nice conversation with her. Her name was Tracy, she was neat and looks quite good - there are worse time wastes I could imagine.
While she was editing my "Personal Notebook" (OS/2 on a IBM PS/2 PC.) I told her about the other banks which has rejected to open the account because of my social security id. But she seems to ignore this matter of fact.
We'd a few entertaining minutes while I'd to explain my handwritten datasheet (she gave it to me to fill it out), I still cannot get used to write the nine and the one in American style, and there must be something serious with my e, a, u, b, K, k and n, that's a Americans thing, I doesn't understand.
(Again this bank clerk doesn't have any interest in my German account sheet, I paid 15 marks for nothing.) 
I confess, the continuing process gives me a little hope but deep in my heard there was no faith at all. I knewed at last she would apologize for the inconvenience because of that f-beep-ing social security id.
While "small talking" she mentioned my German Visa card, I told her that I'm very interested in a American Visa card because I had to pay additional fees of 1% for each...
"... oh yeah, if you use the Visa in foreign countries you have to pay additional fees, and the money exchange is not that good, as well, for a German, isn't it?" 
That made me nervous, I am not used to meet persons who'd knowledge about their jobs environment.
At last she opened a dialog which displays the edit field for the social security id. Aha: the moment of truth. She filled out the social security id field, than selected (dear SunTrust, dear SouthTrust, dear United Bank employees) the option "social work id" instead of "social security id" and pressed "OK" AND a message dialog appears and my heard rejoiced "As I told you!", Then I mentioned there was only a "OK" button (no "Cancel", no "Retry"). And we both read it. The message told us (especially her) that she had to check the tax accounting company of the proposer and that the transaction cannot be completed without a valid address of a employer residented in the USA.
And she explained me that (dear SunTrust, dear SouthTrust, dear United Bank employees) the trick is not to start with the insertion of social security id and persons address (as she usually does when opening a new account), because in that case the system automatically checks for the validity of the social security id (FOR AN AMERICAN CITIZEN). In that case there is no possibility to switch from social id to work id. That's the trick.
Now I have a account, and - as usual - there is something good coming from the bad. Because of the high amount of first transaction at account foundation I get the account free of charge in the first six months and it keeps free of charge if I leave at least 500 USD on it.
I also got a ATM card which allows me to get money from any Bank of America terminal. I will receive my (visa enabled, picture decorated, gold issued) Bank of America card within the next 7 to 10 work days. I got five cheques which I can use instantly and I will receive the minimum blocked standard cheque package (200) within the next five work days. And I got a receipt for the cashed cheques. (Furthermore she asked me whether I need a few cash from this cheques. I denied because I wouldn't put my luck on the scales.)
Thank you VERY much Tracy. 
Could it be a contingency that the Bank of America gave me back the faith in the Americans? I don't think so!
And I convince, in the depth of my soul there is still a little doubt. I wait for that letter from the Bank of America "... we are sorry...".
By the way: I also get telephone cards. I got the cheapest one 14,95 USD (to be minimal depressed realizing that it won't work). After reaching "home" I opened the card, scratched until the id was appearing, then (one deep breath taking) pick up the phone and dial the "Germany" number listed in the small envelope of the card. 0800-888-8000, handset to the ear and ring 1, ring 2 and "We are sorry, we are not able to complete your call, may you hang up and dial again." Screaming F-BEEP VERDAMMT!, smashing the handset back on the phone, throwing the card into the kitchen. OK, may I can use it at least for long distance calls within America (who - the hell - does I have to long-distance-call in America?), anyway. Read the envelope again for the national standard number to dial. Read the headline of the country list: "Service numbers to dial in from foreign countries:". Took me a few seconds... Germany is a foreign country to America. If you dial in from a foreign country... they may... will...
OK, dial the standard number (which is also printed on the card itself). Ring 1, ring 2 "Welcome you to MCI service, please enter your card id now..." (beep, beep, ... beep). "You have 40 minutes left. Now dial the destination number. 011 049 761 (beep, beep, beep................... beep) Ring 1, ring 2, and it rings, and rings, and rings. You cannot imagine how satisfying that continuous ringing can be! 8:30pm local time means 2:30am Germany and I dialed the number of my mothers diner because I am sure I doesn't wake up anybody there.
Just to hear the continuous ringing means not to hear that ... voice of which tells you "We are sorry..." and picks up the phone with the third ring.
OK, that does not prove entirely that it works, but it is a start.
Thx Tracy, thx Stacey, thx MCI, this is my lucky day.