All things considered, I really can’t complain. I’m stuck in a hotel room thousands of miles from home, no way to get back to the family and normal life, with no end in sight. Looking at my last little package of Starbuck’s Via instant coffee. And my last pair of clean underwear.
On the other hand, I’m not festering on a cot among thousands of despairing unbathed travelers in some cavernous central European airport with nothing but stale pretzels for sustenance. I’m in a comfortable room at the Sheraton hotel in the spectacular city of Stockholm. With internet connection, and a group of compatriots in the same boat. And plenty of bars nearby. So things could be decidedly worse.
Which is nice, because I could be here for quite a long time. And the time on my hands offers a chance for reflection — this is one of those rather sobering reminders of just how fragile the architecture of our global society really is. One largish volcanic eruption (an “act of God” in the parlance of insurance companies) and the circulatory system of global society grinds to a screeching halt. A thought that comes to mind frequently these days as one consider the likely consequences of various natural and less natural incidents that might throw, as they say, a spanner into the works of our well-oiled machine. Another well-aimed terrorist strike. Some precocious teenage hacker in Kazakhstan penetrating the firewall of some uber-server and crippling the internet. Et cetera.
From today’s New York Times:
Some travelers took drastic measures to return home. John Cleese, the British comic actor who was part of the Monty Python troupe, found himself stranded in Oslo. He hired a Mercedes taxi to drive more than 900 miles from Oslo to Brussels, where he hoped to get a train to London, said one of his agents, Dean Whitbread. Three drivers took turns at the wheel and the fare came to about $5,000, he said.
Alas, that option is not available to me. Even if I had $5000. I’m starting to think about fishing trawlers headed west . . .