Monday, February 4, 2013

The New Travel Game

For those of you who weren't aware of it, last week's weekend rant was 'Missing in Action' because I was busy with a bit of family business.  It seems that my son had decided that the housewarming for his recently purchased abode provided an excellent excuse to kill two birds with one stone; allowing the opportunity to marry the love of his life Sarah Moglia at the same time.  The opportunity, not to mention necessity of attendance at such an event goes without saying; and Friday I found myself on an airplane for Columbus, Ohio.

Now while I had spent most of the better part of 35 years traveling on these 'Greyhounds of the Air', it had been a couple of years since the last such journey; enough so that most of the residual pain of doing so had worn off.  So it was with little trepidation that I prepared to visit three very familiar airports.  Kansas City's starting point presented few deterrents to travel.   Operating out of three separate and distinct terminals, it presents few obstacles to the regular traveler.  In fact, the obviousness of its conveniences has led city planners, in conjunction with federal authorities, to contemplate a complete redesign of the facility in order to make it more accommodating for TSA mall cops and less so for the traveling public.  (Heaven forbid that Americans should continue to enjoy the process of going where they please without the heavy hand of government to inject at least some minor misery into the process.)

The rest of the day's travel process went without incident (evidently they've finally taken the TSA 'Wanted' poster of me down), and I got to change planes in my former home base of Cleveland with relative ease before the short flight to Columbus (an airport that served as my launching point for over 20 years).  The weekend's festivities came off without a hitch (though I wasn't able to visit with all the folks that I would have liked to), and before I knew it I was once more at the airport, preparing for my return.  

As in many cases however, the apparent ease of the outbound effort was merely a set-up for a double helping of misery on the return.  After arriving earlier than normal for the first flight, I was quickly informed that there would be 3-1/2 hours of delay soon after I reached my gate.  With my original connection now lost however, I was re-booked to an alternate with plenty of layover time to spare.  The flight proved even later than expected however, and like the old days, I found myself racing through the neon tunnel between B and C terminals at O'Hare airport in an attempt to make up the difference.  I discovered that my exertions were needless though, when my arrival there at the next gate came just in time for the announcement of mechanical problems and a departure that would be later still.  After finally arriving home around midnight, I discovered that the result of my journey was that I could have instead driven to Kansas City in the time that it took me to enjoy the more expeditious plan of flying. 

Now those of you have read my offerings for any length of time, know that I am not easily dismayed by the aggravations of airline travel, nor am I easily taken in by the tireless efforts to thwart my travel plans of the ADL (For those less well informed, the ADL is the 'Anti-Destination League', a nefarious organization of ne'er-do-wells whose sole purpose in life is to prevent anyone in an airport from getting anywhere.  For additional information on them, search postings under ADL in this blog.)  In fact, I long ago created a game that I use at airports order to distract myself from the misery attendant with their machinations in such stalled efforts.  In this simple enough at some minor entertainment, I simply look around at my fellow passengers, robed in what I assume to be their sartorial splendor.  Understanding after all that my fellow travelers, knowing that they would be in a very public venue, undoubtedly chose their clothes with great care and at some point looked into the mirror to admire the result before their airport departure stating, "Damn, I look good in this!"  

Seeing them as I did (and you probably often have), I'm sure that you might have agreed with some of them.  Others however, might have used some assistance from one of the reality show fashion police, and some probably should have donated their choices to the Salvation Army rather than inflict them upon the rest of the traveling public.  Needless to say, I find that admiring the diversity of such choices the perfect curative for the tedium of such terminal (pun intended) existence and can also prove a vital part of the study of my fellow man in which I regularly participate.  These often endlessly amusing choices are not only a palative, but a constant proof that the ridiculous experience that we call life must be laughed at if it's to be endured at all.  Normally however, my play is forced to end as I board the flight; and I am left with whatever reading material I had brought along or in a pinch, the airline Sky Mall catalogue.  This weekend however, I added on new in-flight version of amusement that I'd like to share with you.   

Now as most of you know, the width of the average coach seat was designed around the size and comfort of the gluteous maximus (butt) of a 12 year-old, and only then, if it was one suffering from anorexia.  Not fitting any part of that description, I am therefore not normally surprised to be somewhat uncomfortable during my time in the air.  While attempting to endure such suffering in silence however, it suddenly occurred to me to wonder who might feel similar discomfort under similar circumstances (or perhaps, even more).  Knowing that most of the people I was thinking of would never be forced to fly coach in fact did nothing to detract from the amusement I felt as I imagined the pain that would be theirs. 

What are the odds, for example, of any female member of the Kardashian family could even get in or out of one of the poly-whatever Chinese finger puzzle that masquerades as commuter airline seat I was now calling home? (A thought which by itself, almost made my own agony bearable.)  How about the picture of Jennifer Lopez or Beyonce trying to get their famous and more-than-generous 'booties' into one of these less-than-generous chair offerings?  Could these transport torture devices finally give actors John Goodman and Dan Aykroyd the payback for inflicting upon us the Blues Brothers sequels?  As for the thought of Michael Moore's whining ass wedged in with his blue-collar brethren, it might well become a cinematic effort worthy of not only documentary award, but perhaps even of pay-per-view fees. 

As for our nation's leaders ...  

Oh sure, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid might manage getting his 'Gollum butt' in what I'm convinced has long been a govt. issued seat design anyway, but I've got 3 to 1 odds that the better part of the House and Senate would have a bit a difficulty fitting in his place.  The President looks to be able to make the effort without much of one, but I suspect the First Lady might be less than amused with the opportunity of trying.  I might even suggest that avoidance of commercial air travel may be one of the few truly bi-partisan efforts inside the Beltway these days.  One might even go so far as to wonder whether the UN should be asked to step in to label the average seating experience on an airplane as a violation of the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners (which inevitably we are).

Oh sure, now safely at home, I recognize that the processes involved in such shoddy amusements are not only politically incorrect, but could probably be considered 'just plain mean'. I'm OK with that however, because it's my amusement after all, and these mental pictures were funny.  Maybe in fact, it's that very 'meanness' that appeals to the inner Curmudgeon in me (one that's surround by an increasingly larger 'outer curmudgeon' BTW).  While I am occasionally dismayed that to discover that I'm enough of a twisted Torquemada to be able to deal with my own discomforts by somewhat gleefully imagining those of others; it's nice to know that airline travel can still be used as an educational and inspirational experience.  And in spite of my misgivings over using such tacky mental distractions as a form of personal amusements, you will find this new entertainment added to my repertoire of travel games.

(Take that, ADL!)

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