Saturday, July 14, 2007

Travel Rant

At the Gate
Originally uploaded by Semi-Celibate Man

I'm travelled out. The glamour has long ago worn off.

I'm good at it, mind you. I've done it enough - at least 3 out of 5 business days in 2007 so far. Lately, I'm on at least one airplane every day going to cities all over the map. I've become a logistical expert as a result. I can work my way in and out of any airport in the country with maximum efficiency, navigate the check-in process at most rental car agencies, and change hotel reservations while changing lanes during one of the thousands of Interstate highway miles I've racked up.

People, I have a favorite parking space at the airport parking garage for God's sake! Is that a bad sign?

And it goes without saying that I have a favorite seat on any Boeing 737 aircraft. Plus a strategy for getting an optimum seat if my favorite is taken on Southwest Airlines.

If you're a business traveller, you know what I mean. You develop habits. Strategies. Coping mechanisms. They help you get efficiently through a day that includes appointments starting early in the morning, dropping off rental car and catching the shuttle to the terminal, catching flights with layovers and connections, picking up a new car on the other end, and falling into a hotel at the next town at 11pm or later - ready to do it all again tomorrow. And the day after that. What town am I in again?

(Sidenote: Do you know how many rental cars I get in and out of in the course of a month? Do you know how much time in my life I've used up adjusting side mirrors and trying to figure out where the cruise control is and what radio station I can stand listening to? A lot, that's how much.)

One of those coping strategies, and you'll know what I mean my fellow frequent flyers, is keeping a wary eye on - and working around - the "sheep". The sheep being you casual flyers wandering around any given airport terminal lost and confused and befuddled by the array of procedures and concourses. Baaaaa. You're cute. You're endearing. You remind us of an long-gone innocence lost many flights ago. But here's the rub. You're seriously in our way. And on my fourth 19 hour day in a row I'm losing patience with you.

Let me just take a moment to rant at a few of you sheep:

Yeah, I'm starting with you blondie. Yes you're cute, adorable in fact in your sundress. Yes, you're perky and I'm naturally attracted to you. But no, perky or not, you're not getting that 8 oz tube of hair conditioner through the X-Ray machine. Or that Dasani water bottle. Did you not pay attention to the two screeners you already passed that were loudly droning "NO LIQUIDS OR GELS PAST THIS POINT"? No, you didn't and now you are seriously slowing me down in my quest to get to the gate.

All of you this summer, WTF are you doing wearing sandals with no socks to the airport? Yes, when they say "all shoes through the scanner", that includes sandals. Do I really have to look at all of you walking around security barefoot? It's nasty. Would it kill you to wear real shoes on the plane and take the sandals out of your luggage and put them on at your destination.

And, is there a contest going on to see how little clothes you can wear on an airplane? Or, is there a sudden sports emergency that requires men to go directly from the plane to the gym floor? Is that why you're wearing baseketball shorts and ratty tennis shoes? You wouldn't want to have to change in a locker room or anything. Hey, thanks for dressing up you dumbass jocks.

What really irks me, I guess, about you casual travelling sheep is the high percentage of you that have no concept of the fact that you are in public. That your behavior on an airplane affects a couple of hundred other people who are trapped in this aluminum tube hurtling through the air. So many of your are isolated in your I-podding blue-toothing little self contained universe that you have lost any sense of public ettiquette that keeps us civilized. For example:

DO NOT take off your aforementioned sandals and wave your bare naked tootsies around. Again, it's nasty. Keep them off the seat back in front of you.

DO NOT recline your seat. Yes, I know it reclines and that you paid for the seat. But think about this for just a minute. You know how little space you have in front of you. Why do you think that there is endless space behind you for you to recline into? When you do you're seriously invading my personal space. Plus, I can't open my laptop fully to work on the plane with your seat angled into my face. Please, I'm begging you - have some sense of regard for the people around you because I swear to God if you recline your seat into my space I will make you pay for it.

DO NOT swear like a drunken sailor or a fifteen year old girl just because it's just the way you talk and you have so little facility with the English language without it. That includes you two drunken frat boys who sat behind me and loudly included the word MOUTHERFUCKER in every other sentence. It's not cute, motherfuckers.

DO NOT take an hour in the lavatory. Do you know how little actual time there is that the pilot has the seatbelt sign off and the flight attendants are not blocking the aisle? Precious little, and there is a line of people waiting.

Especially DO NOT, whip out your cell phone - you damn phone addicts - the second the wheels hit the runway and announce to your callee and everyone else on the plane that you've "just arrived" in whatever godforsaken city we've just landed in. Did you not tell the person that's picking you up that your plane arrives at 7:35pm? Well guess what - it's 7:35. Does this warrant a special announcement within earshot of everyone else who somehow heroically refrained from phoning their loved ones? No, it does not. You're not special. Hang up the damn phone and meet your party at "arrivals" like everyone else.

I could go on with endless examples. You get the point. I've gotten disillusioned with the low state of civility because of the excessive time I've spent in airports and onboard the aircraft.

Bottom line: pull your head out of your ass, people. Whether you know it or not, you are part of a temporary, mobile, low-fare tribe. A mini-civilization. So be civil already. Have some manners. Dress like you care that you are in public, not in a locker room. Speak like you know other people are listening. Get your head out of your I-pod playlist and pay attention in the security line so that you don't hold up other people. Is all of that too much to ask?

The only thing that keeps me sane, besides of course my job, is my travelling companion. My little digital point-and-shoot. All photos in this post were taken by me on one of my recent endless days of travel. (Copyright 2007 Semi-Celibate Man. Be civil and don't take 'em and use them without permission.)

See you in the airport, business travellers and sheep alike. Baaaaa.

posted by Semi-Celibate Man @ 6:06 PM | 0 comments


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