Sick transit

OMG, I forgot that it’s the Sunday before Xmas, one of the busiest days to travel. What was I thinking? If I don’t catch something from one of the sniveling brats onboard (most of them in their 30s), it’ll be a miracle.


This trip is a sobering reminder of why I always choose Southwest, the airline with the least customer stratification, the most generous baggage policies, and more than 6 inches of leg room. (Yes, it can get a bit cramped on any airplane, but at least on Southwest you’re all suffering together; there’s no 1-percent class behind a tastefully drawn curtain.) Who are these folks who have chosen an inferior airline? Maybe some of them are, like me, at the mercy of a government procurement office or company travel department. No, these people waiting docilely in their five boarding groups appear to be mostly soulless, as do the employees, who exhibit none of the jocularity of the Southwest staff. This is strictly business, and the business model is to cram as many people into a metal tube as will uncomfortably fit.


During the hour I waited for my flight to board, I quenched my thirst a few times at a drinking fountain. Each time, I had to wait behind one or more people filling one or more 20-ounce (or more) containers. You would think they were embarking on a desert trek, not a flight from one civilized place to another, with inflight beverages in between. It seems that the less active our species becomes, the more water we drink. People have literally swallowed the myth that they need 8 glasses of water a day, and they figure if 8 is good, 10 or 12 must be even better.

Of course all this drinking has an inevitable outcome, or rather outgo. So for most of the flight the aisle is filled with people standing in line to pee. Determined not to be a pee-er, I have drunk nothing since those few sips at the fountain. I had hoped to sleep for 4 hours, but my plan has failed. Still I will hold my pee. Six hours is nothing. I once held it for 36 hours. I can do this. Meanwhile the flight attendant has asked people to clear the aisle so that they can perform a a second beverage service. Haven’t they figured out that if they would just stop serving us, we wouldn’t block the aisle?


Passing through the first-class cabin, I heard the flight attendant addressing each passenger by name and asking what she could get them to drink.

“Bourbon and water,” said one lady.

“Excuse me?”

“Bourbon and water.”

“Oh. Mixed together?”

“No. Separate.”

I would have ordered mine mixed with seltzer. But I will not be ordering an alcoholic beverage, partly because I’m a cheapskate, partly because I don’t want to fill my bladder. but mainly because I’m on the wagon for an indeterminate period. I empathize with the oilfield workers who fly on Alaska Airlines to the North Slope (or used to 25 years ago anyway, when I was on one of those flights). No alcohol is served on the way north, as they begin their two weeks in fhe field. The return flight is a different story, with the beer, wine, and whiskey flowing. I look forward to that return flight. For now, being trapped in a tiny space for five hours with nothing to drink is a good introduction to prison life.

Oh, what the heck. There’s only 90 minutes left. I’ll have a Diet Coke.


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