The Lousy Economy: Up Close and Personal

OAKLAND, CA — Oakland International Airport, at least the part I saw after my Hawaiian Airlines flight landed, appears disorganized and unfinished, with exposed ceilings, plywood and cardboard duct-taped to the floors. Even at 10:30 p.m. when my flight landed, there were long lines of passengers waiting to go through security. To exit the area, we had to pick our way through this incoming mob.

I caught a shuttle to my hotel in Emeryville and, as the only passenger, had an animated and interesting conversation with the driver … a Palestinian, now an American citizen, who came to the U.S. as a teenager 26 years ago. He has been a shuttle driver for four days. Two weeks ago, he was laid off from his job at Safeway — their corporate headquarters is here — where he had worked for 17 years. Two weeks’ severance. No pension. See ya ’round.

This morning I take the California Zephyr for the two-night trip to Chicago. I’ll have a few hours in the Metropolitan Lounger there and will post a recap of the trip then.