I didn’t take my first airplane flight until I was 23 years of age. It was a time (yeah, it was after spats and in the early years of the push-button phone) when people actually dressed up to fly. Flying was special, a treat reserved for important-looking-brief-case-carrying-besuited men and rich kids on vacation. I flew laced, pin-pointed and blazered. I had no briefcase but I knew Aladdin’s joy. I was given a meal and as much coke-cola as I wanted. My bags were checked, my ticket was punched amidst smiles and aisles.
My memory of flying coincides with the closing scenes of ‘Love, Actually’. Families, lovers, friends hug-a-mug happily embracing. The entire fam comes out to meet you at the gate, and if a kid snuck under a rope to see his mom or dad disembark, no one gets shot or detained in a concrete room with a cell phone that can’t penetrate the mass.
I’m not a frequent flyer. At best, I’m in the air 3 or 4 times a year. I can’t imagine going through the morass of modern flying more than that. I pity the foolish scheduled weekly flyers. They shall see the kingdom of heaven on time, with free drinks.
The process of flying has become loathsome. It is a process. We are meat, we are cattle, and we are not golden. We are extra-charged, bumped, bullied, stripped of clothing, treated like terrorists, delayed and delayed again. Our flights are cancelled, re-gated, de-gated, and de-bated. The second bag now costs $25.00 to check. I won’t be surprised if we have to pay for the oxygen mask to appear when the cabin pressure drops as precipitiously as the fun that used to be flying.
On my flight to and from Chicago this weekend, peanuts would have cost me three damn dollars had I asked for them. The seats, in which I spent 1 and 1/2 hours tarmac-ed, are made for rear ends the size of mine (I have none). I pray for a seat-mate that will not be zero to my one, making for a sloppy ten. I pray that my bags actually appear. I feel happy when my plane takes off only an hour late. I’m impressed when the flight isn’t cancelled.
I try to find pants I can wear without a belt when I’m going to fly the once-friendly skies. My shoes don’t have laces, and when my jeans are more relaxed than I had intended, I stand rapper-like, holding the folds of my jeans, hoping my pants won’t fall as quickly as my pride while being singled out for special wand-ing. Abracadabra…I hate flying.
I’m not stupid enough to call for one of those boycott days. People are gonna fly. Business must be done, but I do wish the next time you think you need to fly someone that you don’t. You stay close to home. You write the airlines and tell them why you’re not flying. Your grounded state may not last forever, or even a year, but for now..you’ve had ENOUGH.