We both rush downstairs through both wings of the airport in a fury, looking for Lufthansa office. A German looking young woman is standing near the door, seeming she is about to open the office. She isn’t in the uniform. I am about to blow up when I suddenly realize that she too is bumped off the flight and is down there to complain. We knock. No one answers. Besides,  the woman tells us that the airport personnel are going on their standard two hour strike in ten minutes. Perhaps we should check into the train schedule to see if there was an Intercity leaving soon. There is indeed one, leaving in about forty minutes. Fat chance that we could make it across the city within that time. Plus, it arrives in Munich  twelve hours later.  That too is no good. We also contemplate renting a car together and drive through the treacherous curves of the Alps. Not a good idea either.

But now with the three of us, we have strength in numbers. Hermann, an aeronautical engineer works for MBB in Munich. Rosemary is the European marketing manager for Elizabeth Arden,  working out of Düsseldorf. Not attractive in  conventional sense, but the way she carries herself has that certain sex appeal about her. And she certainly knows how to best use the beauty products she represents. She is in fact, the perfect walking and talking image for Ms. Arden.

At the stroke of ten past ten, suddenly there is calm and there is chaos. The airport employees have all flown away like a flock of migrating birds. . The check-in counters deserted and looking lonesome await the return of their occupants. The mob of people have turned around and are now moving in the opposite direction to re-book. Strangely enough they have opened a counter to do just that. While Hermann and I stand there, looking confused and disoriented, Rosemary has paved her way through the throng and all of a sudden she has planted herself at the front of the long line. She comes back with a reservation to Munich via Zürich. Hermann and I follow suit.

We stack all of our baggage together on one cart. I join the line, while Hermann and Rosemary wait for me. I am squeezed between two people on the sides and a hoard of them in the front and back of me in rows of three. For all these many people, there is only one agent re-booking. Over-worked, she does her work patiently and swiftly. By the time I get re-booked an hour later, I feel  nauseated by all that body odor I am forced to inhale. Rosemary could have sold a whole bunch of Elizabeth Arden deodorant that day.

The strike is going to be over in the next twenty minutes. Handing tickets to Hermann to check-in our baggage, I run to the public telephone to call Brigit (Peterson) in Munich. But the foreign telephone exchange is on strike as well. After having lost three telephone coins I get hold of Katherine (Morgan) at Rizzoli’s editorial offices, and ask her to send a telex to Munich.

Hadn’t I known the Italians outside of the Linate airport, my image of them would have been that of the people most inconsiderate and the rudest on earth. They could make you feel the most helpless ever. Outright nasty. I have experienced some of the most humiliating moments of my life  between Linate and Malpensa airports in Milano. You can plan anything, make dates, the weather could be the most beautiful, no fog to delay the departures. But at a whim of an union leader, they just walk out, leaving you glued to the spot where you stood, burning inside with rage, furious with your fists eager to punch someone, your feet stomping madly on the ground. But of no use. They have a cool way of pretending that you don’t even exist. You are in their land, and they are the ultimate MASTERS of the Universe.

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