Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Our Day Trip to Washington

We spent money this past weekend. Yesterday we flew down to Washington for the day for a "cousins club" reunion on my wife's side of the family. Beautiful weather, uneventful flights, no unusually heavy traffic to or from the airport, and a close parking spot in the airport parking garage. We all had a good time.

We didn't actually go to Washingon, being that we were entirely outside the Beltway the whole time, getting picked up at Dulles Airport by my wife's cousin, who took us to his rather spacious home in Centreville, VA before turning around and going to the main event in Potomac, MD, where another of my wife's cousins has a house almost as spacious (though neither of the two houses is nearly as voluminous as some of those mansions on River Road in Potomac, near the Congressional Country Club).

My mother-in-law and her sisters each married men who, even if they did not come from a wealthy family, were industrious workers and beneficent providers. And while some of my wife's cousins no doubt have trust funds established for their children, nobody of the next generation seems to be a spoiled trust fund child; each seems headed towards their own respective achievements. While they all are quite well provided for -- both in terms of material goods and higher education tuition -- none of them seem to be particularly spoiled. Inherited wealth need not predestine one to a life of carefree indolence if the parents who pass down the wealth insist upon passing down personal responsibility as well.

The only times I had ever before flown out of Dulles were 20+ years ago, during my government service years; each occasion was a brief stopover to change from one flight to another. On one of those occasions I actually went inside the terminal building for a few minutes. In the past 20 years, there have been several changes, not the least of which has been the construction of two terminal buildings in addition to the landmark one designed by Eero Saarinen. When we arrived, we rode the shuttle to the Saarinen building, where my wife's cousin awaited us out front. When he dropped us off to depart, however, we walked, via the underground concourses, to the very end of the far terminal. It was a poor excuse for my own daily workout (I had run a few miles the night before, immediately after Shabbat), but for my wife, it was more than her usual exercise. Notwithstanding the moving sidewalks in the terminals, she did walk the route quite well, and she didn't delay me all that much.

My passages through Dulles have done little to inspire a sense of security. My liberal friends and relatives (including my wife's niece, who lives in Washington, works for a left-leaning social service group, and attended the family reunion) will not take kindly to the observations I now make.

First of all, the significant numbers of Muslim personnel who work the security system (x-raying baggage and monitoring the metal detectors) is not encouraging, particularly in light of the significant number of Muslim passengers who normally course the terminal. Of greater concern is the fact that the news stand concessions in the terminal are operated by Hudson News, a Muslim-run entity that also has Union Station in Washington, and Penn Station in New York, among other places.

Query: Are the inventories delivered to the vendors in the terminal screened like the passengers' luggage? Remember, you or I need medical documentation and special inspection to bring in a bottle of liquid containing more than 3 ounces, but thousands of bottles containing 12 ounces or more of liquid no doubt enter the terminal every business day! Moreover, the concessionaires in the airport have legitimate reasons to use boxcutters in the course of their normal businesses. You will recall that a box cutter was used to kill the pilot of American Airlines Flight 11 out of Boston's Logan Airport on September 11 2001. It certainly would be easy to get boxcutters into the terminal via Hudson News, from whence they can be handed over to terrorists.

Perhaps I would not be so hung up if there were a Million Muslim March in Washington, where a million (or even a hundred thousand) Muslims would show up to declare that the Ft. Hood massacre was not what Islam is all about. But until something of that nature actually occurs, I stand by the foregoing comments.

After we flew back to New York, my wife and I decided to give ourselves a dinner out as a belated anniversary present (each of our schedules has really been busy for the past 2 months, so we didn't get a chance this year). So we tried this relatively high-priced kosher restaurant that purports to have Continental ambience and cuisine.

What they were lacking was service. There were only 4 or 5 tables occupied, so it wasn't that the waiters were too busy. But the waiter did not bring a plate of bread to the table until we asked him, and even then, there were only 4 small pieces (we did ask for seconds). We waited an inordinate amount of time for each course (not necessarily the waiter's fault). And we waited even longer for the check, even though we asked a number of times! One would think that a business would wish to get paid as soon as possible for the goods and services it provides. One would think that a waiter would wish to please his customers, who decide how much he will be tipped.

And so, on that latter point, I left far less of a tip than I normally would. I couldn't quite bring myself to totally stiff the guy, but he was pushing it close! I do not envision us dining at that establishment at any time in the foreseeable future.

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2 Comments:

  • At 24 November, 2009 20:50, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I also agree with your security comments that could apply to Boston's Logan Airport. Those box cutters could be smuggled in the newspapers very easily.

     
  • At 27 November, 2009 03:55, Blogger Expatriate Owl said…

    They don't even have to smuggle them inside newspapers! A boxcutter is a reasonable tool in the armamentarium of almost any merchant in the concourse.

    I have never traversed Logan at any time in my life, but have no reason to doubt that its security (or gaps therein) is comparable to any other major airport.

     

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