Anyone who says New Yorkers are rude, has clearly never set foot in Milan. From the Customs Officials chirping, well, okay, grunting, ‘Welcome Back Home’ right down to Merl the cool bus driver telling me that “If any other driver tells you you can’t bring the pup, you tell him, ‘Merl said to take good care of me’”, the bon amie has been baffling. And that’s without anyone actually seeing Trevor – America is an extremely dog un-user-friendly place -- who could melt the frigid heart of Torinese widow in about 12 seconds flat.
At Newark Airport -- a place so completely comfy it feels like Milan’s Linate or London’s City Airport – even though it’s three times the size -- I found myself being escorted to the holding pen at immigration. Although I’m an American citizen, I’m on a delinquent list for having had 3 passports stolen when traveling/living in Europe. Combined with my two year hiatus, they wanted to just make sure it was me trying to break the border.
Traveler’s Advisory: Always take the U.S. Embassy recommendations, and leave your passport at the hotel and carry a photocopy. Yes, the cops might get mad, but you won’t end up on the eternal roll of the delinquency list.
At Ground Transportation I felt I had walked into the control tower for JFK. Debra the Manager was handling three customers, two staff and three telephones – not one her own cellphone. “Where you goin’”? She’s calling up the companies for me, negotiating the rates…”No, no, no, no, no!” – hanging up. “I got $29 and they’re trying to charge you 60.” Next company, 33. “I got 29 (she pipes up, looking annoyed) – “Okay you’re good to go. This gentleman (in the red suitcoat) will be escorting you down to the Welcome Desk where your driver will meet you. Have a great time in Jersey.”
As I left the airport, my thoughts drifting to Debra perhaps telling me $60 only to split the difference with the operator…surrounded by signs reading, ‘If they ask you for a ride, You shouldn’t be taking one’, I thought, ‘No Debra, you’re not in Caltanisetta any more…’