Topic: "I'm Baaack" (2)
The gentleman and his wife sat all alone at an over-sized table adjacent to the buffet on Deck 11. Frodo and Sam were unable to find other available seating as they waited to be notified that their stateroom was available. Frodo asked the gentleman if he and Sam could join them while they ate their lunch. The man gestured to the vacant chairs and stated "Ist Frei." Given his masterful command of the German language, Frodo immediately knew that he and Sam had been invited to sit and eat.
The gentleman began to launch a series of interrogatories in Frodo's direction which seemed to somehow involve both Frodo's nationality and his knowledge of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Remembering approximately 50 nouns, 25 verbs, and a few colloquial expressions, Frodo commenced to introduce Sam to the couple from Goslar, Germany. Eventually Frodo was able to comprehend the facts that the gentleman had recently retired as Chief Homicide Inspector for the Federal Republic of Germany, that his daughter was now living in California, that he was a great admirer of Schwarzenegger, and that he thought George W. Bush was an absolute disaster.
Frodo was unable to convince the gentleman that his primary duty was to destroy the ring. The gentleman seemed to believe, given Frodo's broken grammar, that Frodo was an attorney. Frodo did everything he could to prevent the gentleman from thinking so ill of Frodo.
During the somewhat awkward conversation Frodo was able to engage the gentleman in several commentaries about life in Germany during the first quarter of the Twenty-First Century. Frodo learned that one of the biggest concerns held by Germans dealt with the issue of Immigration Reform. Somehow, Frodo had never imagined that Germany and Mexico were even aware that each other even existed. It seems that the problem in Germany actually has to do with the absorption of residents of what was formerly East Germany into a unified Germany.
The Communist Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR) had poorer roads, poorer public transportation, poorer schools, poorer health care, fewer jobs, fewer firefighters, and fewer public toilets than did its' counterpart in West Germany. The result, today, is that an extremely large portion of public funds go into the improvement of these public services in the formerly Communist sector, and most of those public funds are the taxes paid by current residents of the formerly Western Sector. Roads, schools, and other public services in the West suffer.
Frodo was talking to one slightly-pissed German taxpayer. In truth, this gentleman could have been any one of thousands of current residents in North Fulton County, Georgia, in the US of A. People who believe that their taxes go to subsidize someone else, while their needs are ignored by government. Frodo listened intently, while Sam smiled and continued to attack a salad with sufficient ferocity to constantly ensure a full mouth. Sam's knowledge of German begins and ends with the exchange rate, and how it impacts the capacity to purchase Birkenstocks.
Finally the signal was given that staterooms were available, so the travelers shook hands and headed in different directions. It is a smaller world every time one is reminded that different languages and longitudes are the only difference between Hobbits. Paying bills, providing for the family, planning for the future, remembering the past; these are things Frodo has in common even with soon-to-be unemployed Republican officeholders.
How sweet it is.