Arlington, Virginia – October 3, 2009
As you may recall, we arrived in Spain on August 31. I was just starting to get set in Spain when I was called back to Washington for an in-service training. I was a little disappointed, but I made the trip anyway. This in-service is an opportunity for all of the facility managers throughout the world to come together to share best practices. It is also an opportunity to be briefed on the most current trends within our section of the Department of State.
As it was with my flight to Madrid in August, I was once again on the two-seat side of the plane in an aisle seat with no one sitting beside me. That makes things quite a bit more comfortable for the lengthy flight. The extra room is welcome since I got up in Madrid at 05:00 on the 3rd and then checked in at the hotel at 01:00 Madrid time on the 4th. A very long day!
One thing I already miss in my new life in Madrid is the Sunday newspaper. The papers in Madrid do not come with the comics and inserts like in the U.S. I used my Sunday in Arlington to catch up on my sleep. In between winks I was able to enjoy the Sunday edition of the Washington Post.
Later in the day on Sunday, I went to the mall to look around. When I was in one store making a purchase, the sales associate guessed that I worked for the State Department. He said, “thank you for your service.” I don’t know that I necessarily deserved that, but it was nice to hear.
When I returned to my room, I looked out of the window of my hotel room, I saw the torso of a naked woman in the building directly across from the hotel. That was a bit of a surprise. It took me a while to figure out that it was a torso in an art school, used by students that were drawing or painting.
During the week of the in-service, there was an organized dinner on a Potomac riverboat. The boat was the Spirit of Washington. The boat cruised south on the Potomac, past Reagan National Airport, past the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge and back. The cruise started shortly before sunset. It was really quite an enjoyable time, especially reuniting with my fellow facility manager classmates.
When I departed Washington, I left from Reagan National Airport. After I checked in for my flight back to Madrid, I took the escalator down to the main terminal level. I looked out the window and I saw several people standing around with American flags. Out near the main ramp, I saw two airport fire trucks. I quickly ascertained a planeload of American troops was coming home from the Iraq war. The plane finally showed up and turned down the taxiway. When it did, the two fire trucks began shooting a stream of water over the plane. It was an arch over the plane; a salute to the troops. It was really moving to see this unfold. Moments later a second plane came through the same salute. It made me feel proud to be an American.