Thursday, January 27, 2011

Touching Off an International Incident--in Brussels!

If the US goes to war with Iran over an incident in Brussels, Belgium, I just want to say in advance, "It was not my fault!"

On Sunday evening I flew to Paris for a conference.  Since air travel is SOOOOOO much nicer in uniform, and since I was actually on a drill weekend, I decided to wear my soldier suit for the trip over.

Now waiting in the security line at Philadelphia airport.  My oversize slightly overweight checked bag was not a problem.  (If you know there is a regulation against travel in uniform, just let me enjoy my ignorance.)  As I always do I booked an aisle seat as far back in the plane as I could.  As I got ready to board a very old extended range Boeing 757, the ground crew said there were only 50 passengers--I had three seats to myself.  A whole row---AAAHHHH!!!

But the plane was delayed for 45 minutes while they tried to fix a leak in the 40-year-old toilet.  We arrived late for Paris and I had to catch a train for Brussels that left 15 minutes after I got my bag.  I made the train, but was still in uniform.  No problem, I'll change in the bathroom.  I went into the bathroom when I got on the train.  The floor was sticky. I checked another car. Blue water on the floor.
When I got to Brussels, I met a colleague who was going with me for a site visit for an event in December.  She said we had to go right away, I did not have time to change.We got the facility, a beautiful meeting hall for 1200 people called The Square.  I took my camera (with a long lens) out of my pack and took pictures of the place we would set up a display.  Then the representative from The Square took us down to the actual meeting hall.  When we walked through the door to the lobby, there were a dozen dark-skinned men staring at me.  A couple of them were holding signage with Arabic symbols.  It turns out they were setting up for a meeting of the Iranian exile community in Europe the next day--in the main hall of The Square.

So I am standing in uniform with a camera in my hand looking at a bunch of Iranians getting ready for a party.

I decided I had seen enough of the meeting hall.  We went upstairs to talk about plans for December.




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