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Wednesday, 27 October
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As everyone knows any more, air travel really blows, and particularly so since 9/11. To be honest, I'm not sure it was ever much fun anyway, except, of course, for those who have money, like your Rich Uncle Beard-O over there, living it up in first class with the reclining seats and the martinis and the hey hey hey I Get Blowjobs! Here's a fifty, stewardess.

(I recently read a classic bit of sniffery in the NYT Book Review where the writer was pining for the days when people on airplanes wore proper suits and the airport restaurants were all classy affairs. In other words, she was eulogizing a time when people like me didn't fly. I'm more than happy to dance on that particular grave.)

One of the leveling effects of any kind of downward technological creep is a certain dismay in the fact that while you--the regular joe--suddenly get to enjoy the benefits of [whatever], you also suddenly realize that all of the other regular joes get to enjoy it too. This leads to resentment in that what you expected to be kind of cool and thrilling--a big-screen TV, a hotsy computer--is just that, but it's diluted by the fact that the dickhead over there in thongs gets to enjoy it too. It's orthogonal to misery loves company; think more like self-indulgence hates competition.

But you swallow it, and at times you can even commiserate. I certainly did with other weirded-out flyers who, like me, weren't familiar with the new "TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES!" policy at security gates. That was new to me--you want to scan my shoes? Jesus, fine, I guess. Everyone knows that now that shoe-scanning is routine, some guy is just going to eventually show up with C-4 shoved up his ass, or his hair woven into some terrible nuclear dreadlocks or something . . . scan my shoes, you poor nerds. We're the middle class and we can afford to FLY! Nothing will prevent the shuffling, besocked hordes from getting on that plane!

The wife has always been irritated with a trait of mine when it comes to air travel. I was about to call it a talent, but it's not; it's simply a condition. You see, I can not only sleep on planes, I am basically incapable of staying awake at all on a plane. I just can't. I've fallen asleep even before the drink cart shows up, and many friends of mine will testify that this is deeply weird for a lush like myself. It happens all the time. The wife hates this very much, as she cannot sleep for shit on a plane, so there I am, a hateful drooling golem, whose helpless dozing is like a jabbing thumb in her restive ass.

But sometimes, even the most somnolent of travelers can be jarred into thrashing agony. Most commonly, this is due to horrifying co-travelers, which come in many varieties. On this last trip . . . I encountered several. It was uniquely terrible.

THE GUY WITH THE FUCKING CELL PHONE

We all know cell phones, while annoying as hell, are very useful. HOWEVER. There's a time and a place. I'm willing to forgive minor transgressions like their use in restaurants . . . usually. If people are discreet about it. But places like city buses, elevators, bathrooms . . . no. Same with planes. I mean, sure, a quick conversation--"Honey, the flight is late! Pick me up at nine!"--that's cool.

What's not cool is the loud guy who talks into his cell phone all the way from the jetway right up until the flight attendant is demanding he turn it off. So it was flying home, with me on the window and he in the aisle; he went from one "DUDE!" conversation with a BUDDY! right into a gruesome conversation with his mother. I was already feeling antipathy for the bastard, and then I heard this:

"Mom . . . MOTHER! (Pause.} Mother. I'll try to make it, okay? (Pause.) Mother, what industry do I work in? What industry do I work in?"

Here my hatred intensified. For one thing, don't be a dick to your mother. But also, don't make a show about your incredibly important job here for our benefit. I knew this was going to end badly. He didn't disappoint.

"Mom! I work in television! You know that! Television! I'll do my best."

I immediately wrote this person off as a human impostor, and I devoutly hoped he'd fall through a rusted area of the floor. Everyone would cheer as he fell screaming to his death.

FEET

Here's what you don't do: take off your fucking shoes in public places. Least of all on a goddamn plane. But that's exactly what the grim-faced woman did, right after she sat right next to me. She pulled off her fucking shoes and then, cementing my feelings of horror, pulled out a Dr. Phil book. I began to feel glad about my air-travel narcolepsy until I realized that occasionally her nasty foot--which she had tucked under her leg on the seat--was prodding me every now and then as the plane yawed. Now, I'm not a germophobe or anything, but do I really want some harridan's skankerous feet touching me on a long flight? Waking me up to notice that she's still reading about how Dr. Phil helped out a family of half-human-half-dingoes by bathing in a tub filled with human placentas? This would alarm anybody. It's fucking unnerving. I wanted to whip out a copy of Swank magazine and start vengefully beating off to see if I'd get a counterreaction.

FINALLY, YOUR HORRIBLE CHILDREN

One in front of me, one in back of me. And listen--despite what you might think, I get along pretty well with kids. They're generally hilarious, but in most contexts, that's because one knows that they are easily escaped from. Not so on planes, and I was sandwiched. The kid in front of me was a screamer: "EEEEEEEEEEEEE!" This because he was trying to shove his headphones into his pants, and the father sensibly was trying to prevent this. "EEEEEEEEEE!!!" Kids are weird, or perhaps just know more than we do, we who are corrupted by so much confusing "experience." Perhaps the kid realized the truth: that our genitals are broadcast mechanisms for communicating with outer civilizations. Or perhaps he was just a little howling sack of shit. In either case, I was consumed with fantasies of poisoning him, particularly with the idea of conspiratorially whispering to his parents, "I've poisoned your awful child! He'll be dead soon!" I liked to imagine their fictional reactions: "Oh my God, how can we thank you? Now we can buy things we like!"

The kid behind me was worse. He was a Kicker. SLAM SLAM SLAM went his feet against my seat. GLARE GLARE GLARE went my eyes behind me. But it didn't matter. The parents of this kid were completely fireproof, in that hateful way that I don't quite understand, where the parents' judgment is so completely warped that they are incapable of recognizing that just maybe their delightful little tots are actually a real pain in the ass.

It's not that parents shouldn't be allowed to travel with their kids. It's just that they should travel on planes other than mine. We should all have our own planes, just like Rich Uncle Beard-O. Just like I shouldn't have to share. We're all kids in the end, I guess.

Take off your shoes.

Roam | Skot | 27 Oct, 2004 |

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Comments

THERE you are! My morning coffee was not the same without you, and PS big props on finding a way to tuck a Diana Moom Glampers reference in on your FIRST DAY BACK.

Comment number: 004457   Posted by: joshilyn on October 27, 2004 04:43 AM from IP: 24.98.153.64

SWANK magazine! BWAAAAAAAAAHHAAAAAAAAAAAHAAAA! I sure hope you've learned to carry a copy in your briefcase (or "Portfolio", for those of you in TELEVISION!) for future journeys.

Comment number: 004458   Posted by: Auntie Maim on October 27, 2004 05:46 AM from IP: 137.99.86.207

The guy with the fucking cell phone sounds like the beginning of an episode of "Touched By An Angel."

Comment number: 004459   Posted by: Mickey on October 27, 2004 06:44 AM from IP: 66.147.11.241

odd.... these are the same exact reasons i dont go to the movies....

Comment number: 004460   Posted by: teena on October 27, 2004 10:14 AM from IP: 63.76.75.38

In that book Corpse (surprisingly good, by the way) there was a section on pathologists whose job it was to discover the cause of airline accidents from the damage to the corpses. There was then an extended discussion about where on the plane you had the best chance of escaping from (it turns out not to matter much but it helps if you're male and strong -- a similar conclusion that Langeweische pointed out in the piece on the ferry accident). When the author asked this person where he would prefer to sit in case of an accident, he said first class. I thought that was pretty good.

Anyway, my favorite plane passengers are the ones who do that occasional rattle snore. It sounds like someone is passing spare change through a meat grinder. You always turn around and its some guy in a suit with his head thrown back.

Comment number: 004461   Posted by: Unlce B-O on October 27, 2004 10:18 AM from IP: 66.47.18.130

I believe silly ol' Beardo is thinking of Stiff.

Comment number: 004462   Posted by: Snarky on October 27, 2004 10:20 AM from IP: 68.164.249.26

Snarky has my copy of the book which explains why I've fucked it up.

Comment number: 004463   Posted by: on October 27, 2004 10:26 AM from IP: 66.47.18.130

No cell phones on the bus? No relaxing the feet on the plane? You would probably hate me!

Granted, in Vancouver, there's always at least 3 people on their cells within a 3m radius, no matter where you are. The barrriers are probably lowered a bit.

It surely must be OK to take off your shoes if
a) you keep your feet on the FLOOR, yo! No poking fellow passengers with your toes! Preference is given to simply putting your feet on top of your shoes.
b) your feet don't stink. Nasty.

Comment number: 004464   Posted by: whozzat on October 27, 2004 10:53 AM from IP: 142.103.143.115

I like the terrible nuclear dreadlocks, personally. It would be especially convenient if you could just break off small pieces of them and fling them at obnoxious passengers like Television Jerk, or Feet-poking Dr. Phil Woman, or Screaming Child, or Clueless Parents of Seatback Kickers.

Fireproof, perhaps, but a little nuclear dreadlock would learn 'em.

Comment number: 004465   Posted by: on October 27, 2004 11:15 AM from IP: 207.108.208.206

I believe we should be allowed to carry flamethrowers on board. That way we (by which I mean "I" and maybe "Skot") could simply incinerate the two-seat-worth fat people, the children who should be duct-taped to the wings, the guy whom I always seem to sit next to - you know, the guy with the alarming hygene habits?

Anyhow, I just happened to get back from a trip myself:
http://everythingisdumb.com/101804.html

Comment number: 004479   Posted by: Rick on October 28, 2004 02:40 PM from IP: 206.81.198.130

Skot--

Very nice.
Next time, don't ask, don't say anything, just slap the living shit out of the kid. Parents don't mind. Trust me, I'm a teacher.

Comment number: 004481   Posted by: Joe on October 28, 2004 03:00 PM from IP: 207.69.138.6

Great post. However, how old was the kid kicking you? 'Cause my son is 4 and on our last flight, he was kicking the seat in front of him only because every time he moved, his little legs would fly up involuntary. And at age 4, well, you're just not going to keep them still unless you sedat them....Hmm...maybe next flight...

Comment number: 004495   Posted by: Elle on October 29, 2004 07:33 PM from IP: 24.21.181.217

dear god.

you've been 'bookmarked'

please tell me you're always this good!

dr. dave

Comment number: 004497   Posted by: dr. dave on October 30, 2004 05:19 AM from IP: 68.63.75.233

HAH! i am a shoe-taker-offer, kid carrying, baby's loud assed daddy on the cell phone person. we are the #1 super sized annoying people package. you're right on the money, mister. i have mastered the "i am so sorry" look and pass it out freely to as many people as possible. i wonder if it helps at all. it at least has probaby saved me the punishing angry glare or two. i, however, am a glare backer. you'll all understand when you have children.

carissa

Comment number: 004499   Posted by: carissa on October 30, 2004 10:46 AM from IP: 209.30.82.119

Whoa! Are you guys grouchy or what?!?

Skot! You are so charismatic...no, really. All these people jumping on your vitriolic bandwagon. Either everyone is filled with your high level of scorn or you are really good at creating a mood. Please don't go into politics.

You know what I say? FUCK YOU PEOPLE WHO CAN'T BE NICE!!! (That's a joke, by the way.)

Comment number: 004502   Posted by: Miel on October 31, 2004 06:07 PM from IP: 141.154.72.253

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