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Blog this Trip (32): Leaving

As I swiped my boarding pass at the gate, a buzzer went off. The screen flashed red, and the padlock-gate did not swing open. A red “X” appeared. “Please contact staff.” Swipe again. “Please contact staff.” The boarding crew rushed up with intensely worried faces, addressing me by name. What was happening? Had I been detected carrying contraband substances? Was there some mistake in my reservation? What’s going on?

“Mr. Muenzen!” they exclaimed in worried alarm, which only heightened this sudden flash of don’t-know travel-dread. “Mr. Muenzen! We are very sorry! [more apprehension] There has been some mistake — the flight has loaded one less meal. We are so sorry, but it has been selected that you will not be able to have a meal on this flight! My goodness, we are so sorry!” I had never encountered this before, being selected out from the line to be told such a thing. Another crew member had meanwhile circled in to offer her colleague support. “I am so terribly sorry for this terrible inconvenience! It’s terrible. I am really so sorry! I am sorry!” Their faces were filled with genuine alarm and a seeming preparedness for some difficult encounter. One of the women seemed to eagerly scan the edges of my eyes for some telling reaction. “I’m so terribly sorry!”

“Why are you sorry? I eat once a day. This actually helps me.” That seemed to shock them for some reason. “And anyway, it’s not ‘your’ fault. What have you to do with this? No problem! Please don’t worry about it.” I was only laughing at the strangeness that this was somehow “burdensome”. This speech all came out in a flash. I was laughing, and their faces brightened. “Thanks for helping my practice!”

The first woman’s eyes brightened, and they looked at each other. “Oh, just once a day?” She seemed genuinely relieved for some reason, as if I had given her some mystical teaching.

“Yeah, it’s the best. See how helpful it is? Ha ha ha!”

Her eyes grew wide. “I’m definitely going to remember you!” she exclaimed — quite loudly — as I entered the tunnel, waving over the back of my head behind me while soldiering forward into the shute.

The Buddha’s one-meal-a-day teaching on what we now call “intermittent fasting” really does save all beings from suffering. On multiple levels from moment to moment. You can count on it — he was always right. So grateful for this software!

A minute or so later, entering the doorway of the aircraft, we had to wait some minutes while someone loaded a big pack into an overhead bin down the aisle.

While waiting for the aisle to clear, I said brightly, “Guten Morgen!” to the stewardess handing out hygienic wipes. “Guten Morgen!” Perhaps detecting my inflected accent using German, she craned her neck forward to read the cover of my red passport. “Oh, Irland,” I said in German.

“Ah, ja. Eine schönes Land.” (“Oh, yes. Such a beautiful country.”)

Happy to speak and think in German again, for some reason I blurted, “Ich bin Keltisch!” (“I’m a Celt.”)

She laughed. “Ja, echt Keltisch!” (“Yes, a real Celt!”) She remained engaged, looking up with a big bright smile.

So I said, in further bad German, “Ich bin nur ein Kelten. Ich fahre jetzt zu Hause.” (“I’m just a Celt, returning home!”)

“Oh, umsteigen Sie in München für Dublin?” (“Oh, transfer in Munich to Dublin?”)

“Nein, zu mein Keltisch Heimat in Bayern. Ich wohne in Regensburg. Das war ursprünglich die Kelten, danach die Römische, und danach Sie Deutschen.” (“No, to my Celtic home in Bavaria. I live in Regensburg. It was originally peopled by the Celts. Then the Romans, and later you Germans came.“)

“Ja, ja,” she said. “Das stimmt! Die Kelten waren zu erst!” (“Yes, yes. Correct. The Celts were there first.”)

I winked at her. “Die Deutschen sind die echt Ausländeren in Deutschland! Ha ha ha!” (“The Germans are the real foreigners in Germany! Ha ha ha!”)

She literally burst out in a laugh. Then she guided me to place my backpack in a more convenient overhead rack near the front. I was very happy for that.

Thank you, Buddha, for all of this, and immeasurably more.

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