Monday, January 19, 2009

Hope Is Over-rated

Today started out great! A non-work day in Germany! I grabbed the camera and headed out to take some photos of Mannheim. A couple miles into my jaunt around town, it started raining lightly. No big deal, I was sporting a waterproof jacket I bought in China a couple years ago. Thank goodness the Chinese make good knock-offs because that rain bounced off my jacket like bullets bouncing off Superman…cool.

About a half hour later the rain started really picking up so I begrudgingly retreated back to the hotel. Mesh running shoes and cold rain don’t mix well.

Unfortunately, I had no internet connection at the hotel and the TV channels were all in German (go figure) except for CNN International so I settled in to watch that. Great, another repeat of Inside Africa followed by a repeat of International Correspondents. After awhile I was sure I was going insane because I began repeating everything the reporters said. I reached a point where I think if I had a handgun I would have pulled an Elvis and shot the TV!

I pulled myself up out of the chair, threw on my jacket, put on boots this time, and made the trek to the nearest military installation, usually not a bad walk but it was raining icicle daggers and the wind was gusting at 100 knots. The only thing that kept me going were the cozy thoughts of hot coffee, a warm keyboard and the heat from a LCD monitor at the cyber café on the installation. I love the 21st century!

After what seemed like days, I finally made it to the installation and saw the friendly, inviting glow of the AAFES cyber café! I thanked God for the day, the café, the trees, the ground, the rain…okay, not the rain, but you get the idea, pretty much everything as I made my way to the magnificent entryway.

I reached for the majestic door handle, pulled and…nothing. Then I noticed a sign on the door. Closed for the holiday. As I looked around, all doors leading to warmth and possible entertainment were closed and had neat little signs proclaiming the holiday. My mind went numb, my vision went dark and hope seeped out of my soul and froze to the ground. No longer did the trees or ground or anything around me seem colorful and beautiful.

I’m sure I stood there, in front of those cold, rusting locked doors, in the rain, for a few hours, contemplating my next move. The choices were: stand in the cold, dagger icicle rain all day and night, or go back to the hotel and watch CNN Inside Africa and International Correspondents all day and night. Standing in the rain seemed more appealing.

Eventually, I turned around and slowly began to trudge back to the only shelter I knew, the hotel. At least there I would be greeted by the friendly face of Isha Sesay. Along the journey, a man in the shadows did take pity on me and allowed me to use his internet connection for a brief period. Strange that I had to sign some document in blood that mentioned my soul before I received access. Oh well, it’s probably nothing to worry about.

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