A trip of shocks
First in Cebu, then in Dallas
I have been writing a series of articles about my trip back to the United States. I lived in the Philippines for nearly 20 years, and in January 2019 I returned to the USA for the first time. A while back I told you about a shocker in Cebu, where I was alerted that I was “wanted for questioning when I arrived in the USA.”
When we arrived at our port of entry, Dallas, Texas (DFW Airport), I was in for another shocker.
Our first experience at DFW was going through Passport Control. After the “questioning” warning I got in Cebu, that all turned out to be rather anti-climactic, as I spelled out in my “Shocker in Cebu” article. Everything was fine.
At the Luggage Carousel
After passport control, we were sent to get our luggage. Now, that was the first shocking experience in the United States.
So much had changed in the country of my birth during my absence. I knew things were different just from watching news reports, but this went way, way beyond my expectations.
I am not anti-immigrant (my wife is an immigrant after all), but I was so shocked at the number of immigrants working at DFW. Truly, it was difficult to find airport employees who could even speak English. It was shocking.
Getting all of our luggage took some time, and dealing with airport personnel was difficult, to say the least.
Finished with the luggage
After we finished the claiming of our luggage and rechecking it for our onward flight to Indianapolis, we headed upstairs to the main part of the airport terminals. More shocks were ahead,
The first step was going through TSA to re-enter the secure part of the airport. I found it all confusing. I had not been back in the States since before 9/11, and airport security changed a lot when the events of 9/11 happened.
I saw some airport employees just outside the TSA area and I needed to ask a question. I approached them and told them I had not been in the country for some time and I needed some clarification. They said:
What time is it?
I responded, after checking my watch, that it was 9:30 AM.
Their response to that?
Oh, we’re on break if it is 9:30 already.
OK, if they are on break they are on break, but they said it in such a vile and disrespectful manner.
Frankly, our entire time at DFW it was a period of dealing with rude people. I had lived in the South before, and always found people in that part of the country to be very friendly and helpful. Not at DFW though.
As we waited for our next flight, going to Indianapolis, I was sitting there wondering if I had made a big mistake moving back to the USA. In fact, I was sure that I had made a mistake, and I was ready to take the next flight back to Asia. I was quite worried.
Constantly Changing Terminals/Gates
Over the next few hours waiting for our next flight, the departure terminal and gate changed about 6 times! We were constantly hurrying from one terminal to another, and one gate to another. They kept us on the move.
Feyma and I had chosen Indiana as our new home. After our Texas experience, I wondered what Indiana would be like. Truth is, I had never been to Indiana before and did not really know what to expect. On top of that, I had not been in the United States in so many years, that it compiled my worries.
What would it be like? Would the people be rude? What had I gotten into?
Check back soon for my Indiana Experience.
Why Indiana? Is there family there? Did you not like living in the northwest? Always enjoy your writing. Welcome home!
Hi Tamera, thank you!
No family in Indiana. We chose it based on the recommendation of a friend, and also employment opportunities for my wife and son. I will be writing more about this in a future article.
We like the Pacific NW, but we wanted a new experience, not a repeat of something we already experienced.
Bob New York
I guess you will find some experiences to be shocking compared to the way you remember things from many years ago. Yes, airports can be confusing and aggrivating at times and that is one reason after I found what I thought was the best way to go back and forth from New York to Manila, I stuck to the same routine, flights etc so the routine would be the same.
Looks like you got your replacement PC Bob ? I look forward to the next chapter of your return to the USA. I remember how you always said it takes time to adjust, I hope it works out well for you and your family.
Welcome back !
Thanks, Bob. Yeah, everything is a new adventure these days! 🙂 Sometimes that is negative, sometimes a positive.
Yes, I got my replacement PC and am happy to be back online and in business again!
It’s called reverse culture shock. I have experienced every time I return from overseas assignments of two years or more. After 4 years in the Philippine province of ZDN (from 2009 to 2013) the return was the worst of them all. I even felt overwhelmed by the size of Southern CA cities. And the traffic….
Welcome home Bob!
Hi John – Yes, I am very familiar with reverse culture shock. I expected it, and did a lot of studying about it in the months preceding the move. I think my time studying and preparing for reverse culture shock was well worth the effort.
In a way, this is actually quite funny; not for you, of course. I was born in Texas, but spent most of my high school years in the Midwest. I’ve lived out west for the past 30 years. But, I’ve never EVER considered moving back to Texas.
In retrospect, I think you would have been much better off coming into the country in Los Angeles, ESPECIALLY since you were coming from Asia.
They handle the largest number of people coming from Asia than any other airport! When I returned from the Philippines 2 years ago, it was through LA, and it was very simple.
The title of your article brought back memories of JFK from over 50 years ago, ALSO IN DALLAS. I was quite received the story was nothing on those lines, although I can imagine that the experience felt almost as bad to you.
Yep, rudeness abounding; that’s the US today. This is one of the reasons why, after only planning for an initial 2 month trip here in the Philippines, I’M STILL HERE!
Quite frankly, I simply do not want to go back (even to get my stuff out of storage – but I still have a return ticket that will expire in July, so, I guess a short trip is in order). So, needless to say, I was very surprised that you left to go back, ESPECIALLY after being here 20 years.
Of course, you did not realize just how much everything has changed. I’m sure the US doesn’t quite feel as much like home as you thought it would
Everything thing has completely changed since 9/11, and, unfortunately, not for the better. Even living there, I couldn’t recognize my own country post 9/11.
Here’s an interesting realization I had after 9/11 which, although, it’s minor semantics, might put things into perspective.
During my entire life, the only time I EVER HEARD THE WORD “HOMELAND” was in war movies or spy movies, and it was always a literal translation of a word used by someone who was supposed to be either German (Nazi) or from the former USSR. WE HAVE NEVER USED THAT WORD TO DESCRIBE THE US!
Now we even have a Department of HOMELAND Security. That already unnerves me quite a bit. But if I EVER hear an American refer the US as “the Motherland” I think I’ll totally freak out…
Good luck over there. The minor culture shock you experienced moving TO the Philippines is nothing compared to what you are in for now that you’re back in the US.
I have a feeling you’ll be back here much, much sooner than you expect. After all, about the ONLY thing I miss from the US is my high speed internet connection. Everything else I can order if it’s ABSOLUTELY necessary 😀
I lived much of my younger life in the West. We did consider entering through LA, but the flights did not work out that way, the DFW-IND flight was at a more convenient time and the price was better too.
I don’t expect I will ever live in the Philippines again. I spent a long time there, and am eager to experience new adventures, which is what I am doing now. 🙂
BTW, my internet connection that I had in Davao was actually superior to what I have here in the USA. Here I have 150 Mbps down and 10 Mbps up. In Davao, I had 100 Mbps up and down. 🙂
I’m enjoying your re-adjustment stories Bob.
When I returned from 2 years in Davao I was met with similar but not so drastic issues. I asked the local airport police one small question about loading baggage in our rental car and I was told. “You got 30 seconds and I will tag and tow it”
I was thinking to myself, why are the Cops are so dam uptight here. Unlike the Philippines.
Hi Neal, nice to hear from you. Glad that you have enjoyed my readjustment articles.
Yeah, in most aspects, the Philippine society seems more “go with the flow” and relaxed that the US culture is in so many ways. It makes for an interesting adjustment in my life.
I have flown overseas and in the United States quite a bit since 9/11 and have experienced some delays but I have not witnessed a lot of rude people or people unable to speak English, particularly those working commonly with the public. This is one data point and like taking a picture of a moment in your day and using it to describe your week. I am not being critical, nor do I look at your piece as such, but I am thinking what you experienced was an aberration or at least I hope so!
I admire your confidence in moving to my home state without actually setting foot there first. The people are generally honest and fair and usually leave others alone without excessive interference. That being said, like your airport experience in Dallas, you may find a day or a person in Indiana that doesn’t speak well but don’t assume that describes the Hoosier state. You assumption that Texas people leave a to be desired, however is….. (just kidding… you can find decent Texans if you stay there long enough).
Keep smiling Bob. Welcome back to US and Indiana. Don’t take my comments too seriously they were written as a cautionary commentary. Hope you like basketball.
Hi Craig. Nice to hear from you.
In Dallas, the languages spoken were many, but not much English!
I have some more thoughts about moving to Indiana, but am saving that for another article.
I have enjoyed our phone conversations since I arrived in Indiana, and hope that our friendship can continue to develop!
yeah it is so different here in the Ft Hood area now that any future managers I hire will HAVE to be able to speak Hispanic. Used to our contract with the gov’t said must speak and write English. The law has thrown that out the window. I would still like to be living in Hawaii but we moved to TX for military retirement. Wife felt trapped on “small” Oahu for the 3 years she was there. Best wished in Hoosier land.
Hi Pete. I am shocked by the amount of Spanish spoken here. Out in public, I would say that 50% or so of the people speak Spanish. Time to learn another language, I suppose!
Ah yes, most airport personnel has changed greatly over the years and they can be rude at times. Not entirely sure why, but seems like they are only at the job for a paycheck. And as you can imagine, working with that many people on a daily basis who can be quite rude when things do not go their way. I just chalk it up to the hazards of the job. I was still sitting at my home in GMA rocking my baby boy as yall were making your way through my home state of Texas. As you may have guess after seeing my name on here, I have been one who has bought many items from you through your website while in Davao and spoken to you many times. I am happy yall made it back to the USA safe and are doing well. I can only imagine the shocks from the massive amounts of changes that have taken place in airports and security over the years. As a traveler back and forth out of the country right now, it still sets me back on my heals each time I have to go through security. I am like, I already did this crap!! Why do I need to do it again!!! Anyways, some changes are about to take place in my approval status that should help me get through all that faster and easier. I am going to apply for Global Entry that will streamline and expedite the screening process at customs and tsa.
Hi Quentin – Nice to hear from you, my friend!
I am glad to have finished up the trip and starting to get settled here in the USA again.
You are right, there are massive changes here, not only in the airport but in all aspects of life! 🙂
On one return trip from Manila, my flight was cancelled in LA, I was standing next to the desk, but I still couldn’t recognise my name when they called me!!!, Not English!!
Oh, I know! It’s amazing.
I like having new people come to live here, bring fresh things to our country, etc. But, back when I was younger if somebody immigrated to the USA, the #1 priority ws to learn English. Those days are gone.
I travelled around the globe for years for my job. I always found airport time as lost time – not only can’t you do anything, but most personnel are rude. It’s like they just got off the cattle car with you. I’ve just started reading your book, and have found it most helpful. I’m dreaming of retiring in Danao.
Here’s hoping you and your family find life as fulfilling as it sounded in Davao. Best of luck and health going forward.
Hi Tony. Life is different here in Logansport than it was in Davao. Different is what we were looking for.
We lived in Davao a long, long time, and things started feeling a bit stale. Glad for a change of pace.
Thanks for stopping by my site.