September, 1994: Here was my schedule for the beginning of the month:
9/3: Fly from Los Angeles to Frankfurt, Germany.
9/4: Arrive Frankfurt.
9/5: Conduct World Class Comedy for a radio station.
9/6: Conduct Air Personality Plus+ for a radio station, fly to Munich.
9/7: Conduct Air Personality Plus+ for a radio station, fly to Leipzig, Germany.
9/8: Appear on Morning Show and Radio Promotion panels at the Leipzig Radio Show.
9/9: Present How To Create Maximum Impact Radio Advertising for the Leipzig Radio Show, fly to Hamburg.
9/10: Conduct Air Personality Plus+ for a radio station, fly to Duesseldorf, then drive to Oberhausen, Germany.
9/11: Conduct Air Personality Plus+ for a radio station.
9/12: Fly back to Los Angeles, arrive same day.
The first night of the trip was unexpectedly eventful. The German taxi driver didn’t speak a word to me on the drive from the airport, in a heavy rain, to the Hotel Palmenhof. He pulled up to the hotel, we both exited the taxi and walked to the rear of the vehcile, and he graciously stepped aside to allow me to struggle with my bags without any interference. One of the heavy suitcases dragged over trunk frame, and suddenly the taxi driver came to life.
“Look at that!” he exclaimed, pointing to a minuscule scratch on the outside of the trunk.
I looked. The taxi boasted plenty more impressive scratches than that. Dents, even. I nodded.
My nod did not placate him. “You damaged my car!”
“Gee, maybe next time you’ll remove the customer’s bags from your trunk,” I thought. But I said nothing.
“What are you going to do about this?” he demanded. “You have damaged my taxi!”
Clearly I was supposed to be intimidated and whip out my presumed fat American wallet. But I was not intimidated. I was tired and wet. “Do you want to call your insurance company to file a claim?” I asked with dead calm. Furious, he slammed shut the trunk and drove away.
As usual, I hadn’t slept on the 10-hour flight from L.A., and I went to bed at the hotel around 8:00PM. I awakened at 4:00AM and decided to get some work done on my trusty Mac Powerbook. I turned on the light and, because the hotel didn’t have air conditioning, opened the window. The rain had stopped. After working for an hour or two, I decided to take a shower.
When I came out of the shower, I noticed my hotel room was swarming with bees…perhaps two dozen. My lights apparently were the only ones on in all of Frankfurt, and I guess the lights attracted the bees. Not having any insecticide, I tried spraying them with deodorant. This did not slow them down, although it might have helped with their own interpersonal relationships.
Calling the front desk didn’t help. The night manager barely understood English and couldn’t comprehend my yelling, “My room is filled with bees!”
Finally he said, rather scornfully, “You mean honeybees.” He did not, however, have either insecticide nor a solution. So I spent the next hour frantically swatting the bees — er, honeybees — with a newspaper. Amazingly, I was not stung. I did manage to break a lamp in the process. But given the degree to which the hotel didn’t care about my plight, I just couldn’t bring myself to feel guilty about that lamp.
The two days of seminars at FFH, however, went quite well. This was my second visit to FFH, where Hans-Dieter Hillmoth always makes sure I’m made to feel very welcome. (Yes, there’s always “a buzz” around town when I make my visits.)
Wolfram Tech made all of the arrangements, even finding the time to take me to a very good Thai restaurant called Suvadee.
On the night I left, Wolfram drove me to the Frankfurt Airport, where we had a great meal…at an airport restaurant (Steinenberger)! I had a wonderful duck dinner in just 45 minutes. Great food!
On several restaurant menus in Germany I saw “American sauce” and “American dressing.” I couldn’t help but thinking, “What is that? Ketchup??”
(To be continued next week)