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My Amazing (Air Force) Life…or, How to be Humble

December 1, 2010
latte art heart in our new double espresso cup

Image via Wikipedia

A guest blog by Chris

On a recent inspection trip to Europe I stayed at a 4 star hotel in a resort town in Northern Italy.  The hotel was great, except for the amazingly hard beds.  I still can’t figure out how first world countries can possibly survive with beds that were quite probably chiseled out of marble.  Anyway, I stayed at the hotel for 10 nights, so I got pretty used to the place.  The breakfast buffet was incredible…I’ve never seen anything like it.  They had a machine that took fresh oranges from a basket on top, dropped it down into the waiting grip of two mechanical hands which pushed the orange across a razor-sharp blade.  After the orange was cut in two, it was immediately pushed down on a reamer and the sweet nectar flowed into my glass.  The first morning at the hotel I was trying to figure out how to work it and I watched someone else grab a glass of juice from the machine.  I stepped up with my glass, pressed the button and  watched with delight, only, the glass was only half full when it was done.  Assuming that if I just pressed the button a second time my glass would be full, I went ahead and hit it.  Unfortunately my assumption didn’t take into account the fact that different oranges put out different amounts of juice.  My glass continued to fill until it started to spill over.  I sheepishly grabbed my overflowing cup and tried to slurp up the top of it while avoiding the dripping stickiness and attempting to avoid the looks of the Italian guests “trying not to notice”. 

Next came the most wonderful machine I’ve ever had the pleasure to use.  It was a coffee machine, but not just any coffee machine.  It had about 8 different options of espresso, double espresso, mocha latte, americano, etc.  All you had to do was select the size cup and then press the button for the type of coffee you wanted and after whirring and purring for a moment, out would pour the most delectable coffee you’ve ever tasted.  Of course, the first time I tried it, again, I didn’t know what to do.  I watched a couple of people use it, out of the corner of my eye of course…I didn’t want to expose myself as a neophyte, and then stepped up to take my turn.  Fortunately, this attempt went much better than my first go at the orange juice machine.  Of course, I’m not sure that there’s any such thing as an “espressolattemachiatoamericano”, and I think I received a couple of odd looks from the natives, but with enough sugar anything is palatable.

Throughout my time there, there were a number of small incidences as much as these, not the least of which was my trip to the Italian Base Dining Facility.  As I stepped up the cafeteria-style line I had a choice of pasta, vegetable and meat.  I chose some pasta and vegetables and then took them up on the offer of steak.  As I was leaving the line, something struck me that made me ask another person, “what kind of steak is this?”  To confirm my suspicions, the answer was, “horse.”  Thinking of Hannah, of course, and her love of horses I decided that I would decline the offer.  Besides, I’ve never quite understood where they get the horse meat from.  Do they raise the horses specifically for this purpose or do they wait until “Nelly” keels over and then off to the butchers? 

Finally, it was the last day at the hotel.  We were going to go over to the base to brief the unit on their results and then leave immediately afterwards for Milan.  I wanted to be very organized and get everything all lined up to get to the base early.  I had been driving the team chief (I was the assistant) over to the base each day because he didn’t have a vehicle, so I went down early to get my luggage in the vehicle and then be able to grab something to eat quickly.  When I got downstairs, I saw that it was absolutely pouring outside.  Fortunately, the hotel had a parking area under it, so I asked the front desk clerk if he would allow me to open the gate so I could bring the car down there to load the luggage.  Feeling pretty good about my plan, I brought my luggage down to the car and avoided getting it all soaked.  I jumped in the elevator to go grab some breakfast and meet my friend.  Then it happened.  Just before the elevator got to the ground level, it stopped.  It was 0620 and I was supposed to leave at 0630.  No big deal.  I tried pressing the button again.  Nothing happened.  I waited a second.  I pressed some more buttons.  Nothing.  Ok, now what.  I waited.  Perhaps someone would press the elevator button on the outside and it would do something.  I waited some more.  0625.  OK, now I was starting to get a little irritated.  I pressed the “help” button (or at least that’s what I thought it was).  I heard a little “buzzing noise” but wasn’t sure what happened.  I pressed it again.  Soon someone came to the elevator door and said something in Italian.  I answered in English, “I’m in here, and the elevators not working.”  “OK, I’ll get you right out of there,” he replied.  Next I heard the voice of another one of the team members.  He rapped on the door, “You in there?”  “Yes.”  “You stuck?” “Yes.”  “Try jumping up and down, maybe that will do something.”  “Yeah, right.”  Of course after he said, “Good luck” and left, I tried jumping a little bit, just in case.  Not long afterwards, it was about 0640 at this time, my friend showed up at the elevator door and said, “Hey, I heard you were in there.  I was wondering where you were.  I’m going to get a ride with someone else so I’m not late for the briefing.  Good luck.”  “Thanks,” I said glumly.  Finally, at around 0715, they finally got me out of the elevator.  Funny thing was, I wasn’t even upset at all.  I think the hotel staff thought I was going to go off on them as they sheepishly apologized when I stepped out of the elevator.  It was the most peaceful hour I had during the whole trip, so I was pretty happy.  

Besides the hour of meditation, prayer and relaxation, the best thing about it was that since I was already going to miss the briefing, I figured I might as well get a good breakfast, so I got to go into the breakfast area and put hurt on the juice machine and get a couple more “espressolattemachiatoamericanos”!

One Comment leave one →
  1. allison permalink
    December 2, 2010 7:12 pm

    wow! so funny! I and Zech and Mom and Dad watched a documentary a few weeks ago about elevators…Did you know one guy got stuck in an elevator for over two days?!
    Its nice that you were able to just chill and not stress during your time in the “lift”– Way to be flexible and adaptable 🙂

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