Self-aware. Self conscious. Self induced.

Sharp elbows and other travel foibles

“Ostré lokty” is a Czech phrase meaning “sharp elbows.” It’s typically used for the pensioners who, despite their osteoperotic size and presumed poor health, can still throw a mean hip check if it means getting on the bus first or just grabbing that last package of pre-packaged cheese. There’s no subtlety to sharp elbows.

Contrast this with the “line” getting on Lot Airlines yesterday in Chicago. Gate M01 at Chicago’s International Terminal is like you’re already in Eastern Europe. All of the announcements begin in Polish, only followed by abbreviated English later. Approximately 20 minutes before boarding is scheduled to begin, a line forms. Approximately 30 minutes after boarding is scheduled to begin, they announce the seats at the rear of the plane to start seating. Then they don’t make any more announcements and we all press forward.

I have to say, it worked remarkably well. It didn’t seem to take any less or more time than an “orderly” domestic boarding.

And the Ukrainians and Russians, flying back to their respective homes via our mutual layover in Warsaw, do not have sharp elbows. Unlike Czechs, they do not bludgeon you out of the way. No, they see a slight gap, something that an American might think of as “personal space,” and step into it. And suddenly, there are three Russians in front of me. No guilt, no abashed looks. They’re in line now, just like me. Would they be as easy going if someone were to step in front of them? Even odds says they would.

Lot airline food is no better or worse than anyone else’s, I’m relieved to report. So far jet lag is predictable, but I slept on the two flights, and last night from 10:30 to 4:30. Which means, in spite of my morning coffee, that I’m about ready for a nap.

Prague morning


2 responses

  1. Nikola Miladinović

    Reading your description made me feel as if I was there with you, but now the coffee is beginning to wake me and I must return… Looking forward to future cyber-travels. Živeli!

    May 25, 2010 at 3:37 pm

  2. Awesome photo!

    May 25, 2010 at 12:46 pm

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