I have always had a hard time believing those little seat cushions are going to keep me floating after the plane does a belly flop in the ocean. Since I spend half of my life on the road; that, and many other things pertaining to the world of travel I have been pontificating for some time. Here are some of the observations I have made in the last year:
“Hope a boulder doesn’t roll down the mountain and crush your car on the road trip”
Tell me you’ll miss me, tell me to have fun, tell me you’ll see me when I get back. But don’t tell me to have a safe flight. Is there anything I could possibly have less control over? By telling me to have a safe flight are you telling me to not kick in the cockpit door and start pressing buttons? Furthermore, by going out of your way to say this you are just validating any fears that someone may have about flying. As I struggled to come up with a simile to describe what telling me to have a safe flight is like I realized that there isn’t any because this is the gold standard for not having any control over the outcome of a situation and should be the simile to describe these situations. So for example if someone tells you good luck on your Powerball ticket, you can say, “that’s like telling me to have a safe flight.” Other situations to which this is applicable are if someone tells you, “hope your office doesn’t collapse in an earthquake.” Or, “have a good night free from your house being torn apart by a tornado.”
Uphill battle of ignorance
I try to be patient with people who hold things up when it’s obvious they don’t fly very much and are not familiar with all the procedures etc. But for God’s sake when you come upon one of these procedures just do it. For example, don’t stand there and argue with TSA when they tell you your laptop needs to come out of the bag. It’s not like I completely understand everything they make us do to confirm our identity, get through security etc. But for one thing pay attention. I don’t think I’ve seen an airport with fewer than three different signs in the security screening area warning that laptops need to come out of their bags. Secondly what the hell difference do you think you’re gonna make? And where do you think you are, do you think you are going to get your way by arguing? It’s not like you are at the restaurant where the waitress screwed up your order, then was rude to you so you talked to the manager and got 50% taken off the bill. You’re arguing is especially not going to go over well when the current threat level is orange or off-white or mauve (I forget which one I’m supposed to be terrified at)
Strong arm thuggery
At the Eugene airport’s only place to get food beyond security:
Cold deli style turkey sandwich
4 oz container of potato salad
32 oz Pepsi
1 novelty ice cream bar
The SLC Experiment
For those who have sat at the Salt Lake City airport boarding area and not had an epileptic seizure; you are truly a survivor. Because what they have created is an atmosphere where the addition of bright strobe lights would overwhelm the senses, causing a normal person to go into shock. The row of airline agents make mundane announcements one right after the other describing the minutiae of anything that can be construed into having something to do with your flight at a rapid fire delivery rate that would rival 10 auctioneers in the same room all trying to out-bid-call each other. This is then broadcast over the PA system at a decibel level that could be used in the graphs they use on football game telecasts illustrating the loudness of the stadium compared to things like jackhammers, jet engines etc. Another thing I find interesting is that in each terminal at the Salt Lake City airport there are smoking sections that consist of a glass cage with a lab rat look and feel to them, out in the middle of traffic, where people sit and puff their heaters. I am not typically a conspiracy theorist but the glass cages coupled with the sensory overload has led me to the conclusion that somewhere at the Salt Lake City airport are those with lab coats and clipboards taking notes as they are performing some sort of human behavioral experiments. At this point, I do not eat any food at this airport out of fear that next they may be testing the side effects of some highly experimental, phase one terrorist interrogating truth serum.
Round up the herd
No need to stampede to get on board. Do you realize the airport is not on fire and will continue to be there even after you have left? Did you know you have a seating assignment? This is not general admission to a Miami Heat game where the first through the door are going to get to sit closest to the court. So it’s funny how people will crowd around the gate and stand there like they’re camping out for Lady Gaga tickets. One time I even heard an agent announce to the crowd that they could sit down. She said, “there is no benefit to standing by the gate.” She must have repeated this three times but alas, nobody moved. It looked like a bunch of sheep grazing on one patch with a farmer standing in front of them saying, “there’s better grass over there.” And when the agent gets on the intercom and announces they are going to start boarding soon, forget about it. This is the equivalent of announcing the ship is about to meet the iceberg and everyone is looking around wondering how all these people are going to fit in those few life rafts. And so they shuffle their feet to inch closer and closer, and use their shoulders to edge ahead of the person next to them. My personal technique is to sit and wait until everybody is through the gate regardless of the zone number on my boarding pass. Sometimes, I even wait until last call and a couple of times I have waited so long they have actually called me by name. The moral of the story of my technique is this: they don’t just take off without passengers! If you are in the boarding area it is very difficult to miss a flight unless you are a complete fucking idiot.
Whatever, I do what I want!
It’s actually not that difficult to locate your seat because you don’t even have to possess the ability to count or recite the alphabet. All you really need to be able to do is match what your boarding pass says to the letters and numbers on board and sit your fat ass in the corresponding seat. Unfortunately, I have become all too familiar with not only those that cannot find their seats but also with “I’ll sit wherever I want” guy. The first time I actually got laughed at because, “this is my seat hee, hee, haa, haa.” Then he poked his friend in the ribs to get the “we are so cool” conformation one can only receive from their stupid ass buddy. I showed him my boarding pass to prove that it was actually my seat. In return I got showed the boarding pass belonging to I’ll sit wherever I want guy and was told, “why don’t you go sit there.” On the second occasion, I told I’ll sit wherever I want guy that he was in my seat he rolled his eyes, sighed and shoved his boarding pass in my face like he was showing off because he had just pulled the Ace to my King high flush. When I informed him his boarding pass said 5B and he was in fact sitting in 6B he said, “Oh, well you can sit in my seat.” The point is I really don’t care where I sit because 90% of the time I am travelling by myself and the other 10% I’m with a co-worker who is just going to drone on about god knows what to the point where I’m wishing sharp objects were allowed on board so that I might cut my wrists. But, there probably is a better way to approach this situation such as asking nicely, using a please and thank you or any of the other techniques used in a civilization to measure human decency. And I suppose I’ll sit where I want guy is a not too distant relative of that’s my armrest and I’m going to sprawl out and take half of your leg room guy.
I love how planes still have the little cigarette with the “no” circle and slash through it next to the seatbelt light. And how the flight attendant gets on the intercom and tells you that this flight is non-smoking and that you cannot disassemble the smoke detector in the lavatory. Are there a lot of people on board who have been in comas for the last 20 years? Is there a human being alive on this planet today who doesn’t know that you cannot smoke on airplanes? (I guess you never know; see procedures) Are these the same people that need to be reminded to leave their name and number after the beep?
Remembering what momma taught us
Whenever leaving a plane after arrival I always either stick my head in the cockpit, or yell that direction to thank the pilots. Amazingly, I don’t really ever see anybody else doing this. When was the last time you stepped out of a cab without thanking the driver? And it’s not as if something about being on the plane completely shuts off all of our gratefulness because we even thank those that offer us a drink and our choice of biscotti, peanuts or pretzels. And since there are gratuity cups at various establishments filled with money for people who are not even really providing a service but are more or less cashiers; would it be that outlandish to see such a cup stepping off the plane? We tip waitresses, hairstylists and baristas. We throw dollar bills at strippers in the hopes that they might shake nipples in our face but we don’t tip the person standing between us being alive or plummeting 35,000 feet and vaporizing in a fireball. The societal structure that dictates who receives tips and who doesn’t seems out of whack, particularly in this case because I have a hard time thinking of someone who serves us more than pilots. And ask yourself this; how would you feel if you constantly took care of others in this fashion and received no gratitude? I tend to think pilots would maintain a high position in the rankings of people we would least like to piss off.
My life on the road has brought these and 1000s of other little joys that I might possibly have gone the rest of my life without experiencing. And no; the pains in the ass have not been mitigated by the destinations as I have gone to such places as: Columbus, Montana; Lordsburg, New Mexico; Rangely, Colorado; Elko, Nevada. You know; the type of places that make Little Rock, Arkansas look like Beverly Hills. So I guess that means I do the type of travelling that makes taking a Greyhound to New Jersey look like a limo ride to Manhattan.