A Web Site For The Young Ethiopian Professional. Volume II   Issue I    
Tuesday November 12 2019

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LIFE IN THE REALLY REALLY FAST LANE
by: Rafael

The Editors of SELEDA has tracked me down again…YeT LITI-DEBEQ? "they" said, as I raced down yet another gateway to catch yet another plane…(Actually, I take it back, it wasn't any plane…it was THE plane taking me to DC and another cool weekend away from PC'ness and "toward" some rather intriguing individuals)…

But I digress…Our Fearless Leader is in the process of commanding me to write about life in the really, really fast lane…a place where the seats are uncomfortable, the food is almost always bad, the service spotty and there is always someone who can't handle a drink.

No, I'm not talking about your favorite Ethiopian restaurant on a Saturday night, I am talking about air travel.

Any way, somehow, the SELEDA folks have found out that for the past ten years I have spent 20% of my life on planes, and that I absolutely love it – some of the time…What they didn't know is that there are some other Ethiopians who log 3 times my miles, but who am I to tell them??

Are you in first class?, says the flight agent as I attempt to check-in and talk to "SELEDA" at the same time. Wadda? I look like some World Bank bureaucrat or Wall Street guy?"

Nobody in Silicon Valley travels first class unless upgraded…for free…Wouldn't be caught dead wasting shareholder value…'cause I'm "one of them"…

Any way, it turns out that I can get an upgrade – which only means you are now in real danger of starting happy hour at 40,000 feet, or, worse, you are sitting next to a guy with an ego the size of a Third World General…

To state the obvious, traveling alone is not nearly as fun as travelling with friends. My best travels have been on my annual vacations where my friends and I have a blast catching-up on just about everything that happened during the year. This year was no different, and we either talked, or played cards or whatever for 15 of the 18 hours to Addis. Trust me, that was a lot better than the year we managed to get complaints from people in a whole other section…Or the year one friend got accused of blocking-up the Ethiopian Airlines toilet… although that happens on every EAL flight along with the clapping and iskista at touchdown. (That was also the flight where the anti-hijackers with matching gray suits followed our every move on the plane…To this day, I have no idea why.)

Would you like the steak or chicken? Nah lady, it's Tsom. What?? Ahhh, sorry… do you have a vegan meal?...Sure, here you go…

Fortunately, when you fly from Cali, ordering vegan doesn't automatically make you a radical anarchist…But let me tell you, Third World habits will always clash with Western ways – even at 40,000 feet. A guy who was born and raised in Texas told me once that the best food on planes were the "Islamic" meals...He was right…I did call ahead once and demanded a "Muslim vegetarian meal"…It was the best airline food I ever had.

Now, in case you're wondering if I enjoy any of my business travels, the answer is absolutely yes. Through work, I've been to 30 states and 5 countries…To me, there is nothing more stale than sitting behind a desk 8 hours a day, 200 days a year (sorry if I've offended anyone)…Nothing beats catching-up with old friends and seeing new cultures and local habits. The key is to be open-minded and enjoy the moment…Life is too short to say: "Wei gud! Bilew, bilew Qmburss inna rooz liabelugn new?" at Asian restaurants.

Like any thing else in life, however, there is a down side…If you're in serious relationship, travel will absolutely drive your partner crazy – and that's before you even get married…

I'm not sure what the reason is, but I have a theory that the whole problem is created via a combination of fantasy and reality...The fantasy part is that your partner is imagining that you are always some place glamorous, eating something fancy, or worse, doing "something" you shouldn't be doing. The reality part is that, yes, you are going to do some of the above, but not always, and not to the level of enjoyment that you would be doing it with your closest friends and partner…(Trust me, at formal business dinners, you're always "watching" or being "watched")

Now, at the risk at sounding sexist, or being labeled "none-p.c.", let me give some friendly advice to all the guys reading this who may be rookie travelers…ALWAYS, ALWAYS CALL YOUR LADY WHEN YOU GET TO WHERE YOUR GOING…It doesn't matter what time it is or anything…

Don't ask me why the subject of you not calling becomes more important than world peace…It just does…So take my advice and call – even if you have absolutely nothing to say…If you don't call, it will make that whole fantasy/reality thing grow way out of proportion… "Min sitsera neber litidewel yalchalkew??" (NOTE: If you're going from some nasty place like Minnesota in the winter to, say, San Diego, avoid talking about the weather)

With that…I wish you great travels….On the really, really fast lane…

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