Professionalism

Our mail hasn’t been coming to our new address, so I called the old post office to investigate.

Me: “Hi, we submitted change-of-address forms for April 2 and aren’t getting forwarded mail. Can you help me find out why?”

Supervisor: “Your carrier would know what’s going on, he’s right here, let me get him for you.”

Carrier: “Yeah, I saw your note in the old mailbox, but I never got any forwarding information.”

“But I have my confirmations right here.”

“I don’t know what to tell you, I don’t have any yellow slips.”

“That doesn’t make any sense—I got several pieces of mail with the yellow forwarding sticker, just nothing consistent. Where did they come from?”

“I really don’t know. I don’t see anything here that has a new address on it for you.”

Exasperated, I tried a different question. “I went to the old mailbox on Monday and got my mail, and when I went yesterday it was empty. So where’s my mail from yesterday and the day before?”

“Oh,” the carrier said, “Once I saw your ‘moved’ note, I sent everything back.”

“Sent it back?”

“Yeah, returned to sender.”

“You marked all my mail return to sender? But I sent in change of address forms!”

“I’m sorry, but that’s what I did.”

I asked for the supervisor again. “How,” I asked, “do you not have anything indicating my new address?”

“All I can tell you to do is to re-submit your change of address form,” the supervisor said.

“That’s fine. But what about the confirmation letters that I received?”

“That doesn’t help. We didn’t get anything here.”

“Why wouldn’t you get the form I got?”

The reply, and I quote:

“Well, sir, it may have gotten lost in the mail.”

Angles

I read both the New York Times and The Economist, which gives me a terrific

point-counterpoint on hot-button issues in global news.

This week:

Battle Over the Banlieues, the New York Times Magazine. “[What Sarkozy said

at the riots] was the antithesis of what a government minister was expected

to say. … I can’t remember a single political conversation in any of the cités I have visited in the last year, on any subject—jobs, discrimination, France herself—that wasn’t prefaced by at least a few almost ritualistic denunciations of Sarkozy.”

vs.

France’s Chance: After a quarter-century of drift Nicolas Sarkozy offers the

best hope of reform, The Economist. “He is the only candidate brave enough

to advocate the ‘rupture’ with its past that France needs after so many

gloomy years. It has been said that France advances by revolution from time

to time but seldom, if ever, manages to reform. Mr Sarkozy offers at least a

chance of proving this aphorism wrong.”

Smiling in Charlotte

Hi! I’m in an airport. Charlotte (NC) Douglas International Airport, to be exact. I am enjoying the free (!) wifi in Terminal D while I rock gently in a white wooden rocking chair (!!), one of dozens situated in large picture windows throught the airport.

I am mid-trip from Myrtle Beach to New York-LaGuardia. I normally abhor two-hop air travel, what with the dual protocols and four rounds of ear popping and twice the chance for frustration (case in point: my connecting flight is currently delayed). But my rocking chair and wireless is making me smile, as is the exposure to small-airport America that US Airways provides. Charlotte to Myrtle Beach! Charlotte to Dayton! Charlotte to Harrisburg! I had nearly forgotten that jets flew point to point between mid-market cities. New York has truly skewed my perspective.

Most notably, I flew MYR-CLT in a whisper-quiet Canadair CRJ-700 outfitted in leather. Regional jets don’t climb to 30,000-plus feet like the jumbos, so the pressurization is significantly lessened in addition to the noise; my usually difficult ears didn’t even pop on the descent. The flight was so easy and uneventful that I downright enjoyed myself, a rarity for a domestic flight. I deplaned in such a good mood that I began to consider looking for short-hop regional flights when I next need to travel. Maybe if I had occasion to fly to Dayton.

The news now is that lightning has shut down the runway. We’ll see how long this rocking chair can keep my spirits up through the delay. Regardless of my departure time, though, my first regional jet experience actually has me looking forward to more.

Testing me

This time last year I was suffering through Passover in Paris, a not insubstantial test of willpower in the land of perfect bread (which I am pleased to report ended successfully, with a rather wonderful meal of homemade pasta and good company).

So what do I do as an encore this year? I fly to Texas on day seven of the observance, and am forced to break Passover on the plane, with some half-day-old bread purchased on a business lunch and sheepishly carted around Dallas in the back seat of a colleague’s car.

Next year I may just lock myself in a bakery midweek. Probably wouldn’t be much more exasperating.