The plane sat on the runway. It already was 30 minutes delayed. "Miss, do you think we could have some coffee while we wait?" I said.

She was about to say no and then changed her mind. "Sure, it's about time we began to act like a real airline."That sort of summed it all up. For nearly six years, People Express played at being an airline. But what they lacked in professionalism, they made up in enthusiasm. Although, I liked the low prices, I rarely flied People. Flying cheap at 29,000 feet never really appealed to me. But I didn't want the company to be merged out of existence without one last memory. So when a quick flight to Washington was required, I took People Express out of Newark, N.J.

But sitting on the runway soon became a bore. Next to me was an attractive young blonde wearing a Federal Express jacket. "I hope you're no in a rush to get to Washington," I said by way of an opening.

She turned, looked at me and then looked out the window again. "No hurry, I'm not," she said. Silence followed.

"You have an accent," I said undaunted. "Are you German?"

"No," she said still looking out the window.

I looked at the questions I was going to ask Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, D-Texas, when I got to Washington. "You're from Europe, yes?" I said after a decent interval.

She turned and looked me over head to toe. I straightened up in the seat, hoping I passed inspection. A long wait without someone to talk to is difficult for me.

"I'm Dutch," she said smiling somewhat. But she again turned to look out the window, I too looked that way but there was nothing to see but concrete


Ah, Dutch, I've been to Holland many times. The Dutch are good business people. Sort of like the Swiss but with personality."

Her hair was honey blonde. Her eyes, when she looked at me this time, were somewhat puzzled but definitely blue. "We do not have drugs everywhere like you Americans," she said.

"What about Amsterdam? The drug capitol of Europe?" I said somewhat combative. But then I turned on the charm again. "Do you live in America?"

She considered the question. I live in Virginia, near Washington," she finally said. But she turned in her seat and looked at me as she talked.

"Do you work for Federal Express in Washington?"


"A good company?" I asked with concern in my voice. "Yes. But very militaristic."

She must have been about 25. Along with the Federal Express jacket, she wore blue, tight inexpensive corduroys. She was slender. The pierced earrings appeared to be real diamonds.

"Do you plan to make Federal Express a career?" I inquired.

"I don't know. I've only worked there two years."

"Is it difficult for women to advance in your company?" I asked.

"No, it's like a family. Once you are there they want to keep you. Women are promoted. But it's all so routine. To be efficient everything, every effort is to make things routine."

She looked intelligent but sort of silly in the Federal Express flight jacket with the diamond earrings.

How is your service to Europe? You've been servicing Europe three years now?"

She was somewhat taken aback. "Yes," she said. "How do you know?"

I write about those things," I said, with a touch of modesty in my voice. ''Does everything go by way of Brussels?"


"Which country is the easiest to get packages in and out?"

"The United Kingdom," she said, switching to a professional voice. "All of Europe presents little problem. Canada is the problem. Everything, no matter the price, needs a value stated on the bill of lading for Canada or it is sent back.

"Do you plan to live in Holland again?" I said.

"No. I like America. I've lived in England, but the weather is terrible and the people never talk. Americans all talk."

"We are a friendly people," I said with a smile.

"I did not say that. I said you all talk." She turned and looked out the

window again.

The seat belt sign went on and the plane began taxiing down the runway. I was soon lost in my studying of recent interviews of Sen. Bentsen on trade issues. With the Democrats capturing the Senate in last November's election, the senior senator from Texas was now the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, where the Senate trade bill will originate. Keith Rockwell, our enterprise editor, and Dick Lawrence, our senior trade reporter in Washington and I were going to interview him that afternoon.

"Did you like Holland?" the young lady said.

I looked up, my mind lost in my studying. "Holland? No. I really like America. Holland's okay. Europe's fine. I love to shop in England. But I get lonely for America after two weeks in Europe."


"I don't enjoy societies in which people are separated into various classes."

The young lady smiled at me. It was a sincere, friendly smile. "That's what I like about America. We're all one big Federal Express. One big family. But a little too militaristic."

I smiled at her and liked her. I thought about the U.S. trade problem. The $170 billion deficit. The problem is more difficult than I realized, I thought to myself. It's probably difficult for us Americans to compete abroad because most of us like the United States too much. And the imports are usually lovely.

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