YESTERDAY I spent five hours in an airplane. After the introductory greetings from the Captain and flight attendants and a prerecorded safety message, all was quiet except for a couple of babies crying. There was no conversation between seatmates. Every head hung downward towards a cell phone, iPad, laptop or Kindle. Wires dangled from most ears.
It was eerily silent.
I thought back to my first flight to Europe 45 years ago when the entire plane was buzzing with conversation and people walked about the cabin, chatting and making new friends. It was much more fun. Or maybe I was more fun, being 45 years younger. Anyway, I remember a good time.
These days, the whole experience of flying is unfriendly. Last week when we arrived at Boston’s Logan Airport parking garage, we had to stop and have our car searched for explosives since we were parking close to the main terminal. (I guess if you park in one of the lots further away they don’t care if you blow up the garage.) This “search” consisted of the following exchange:
Airport Worker: “Open the trunk of your car, please.”
Airport worker looks inside trunk, where there are two large suitcases and one large briefcase stuffed to the gills. He does not stick his head into the trunk or open any of the luggage.
Airport Worker: “Okay, you’re fine, go ahead.”
As we drove past the guy, I wanted to yell out that our luggage was loaded with bombs and box cutters but my husband wouldn’t let me. I wondered how that cursory glance had netted any useful information, feeling a bit depressed as I realized we must look very non-threatening and ordinary.
Once inside the airport we got our boarding passes from a machine so there was no need to talk to anyone, ever. Going through security I got to leave my shoes on since I had been deemed “Pre-check.” However that came about, I was happy about it since over in the next lane where the people apparently appeared less trustworthy, everyone was busy taking off belts and undoing boot laces. One lady complained loudly that she wasn’t wearing socks and so had to walk through the X-ray machine barefoot, on the yucky floor. Oh well, that’s what you get for being so trendy—sockless women in UGGs were everywhere.
Perhaps the oddest thing of all was the slice of pizza I ordered in the airport food court before boarding. It was not a large slice, maybe the size of a small paperback book, with two or three mushroom slices and a few slivers of red bell pepper on top of the cheese, and mostly bread. It cost $8.31, which I thought was a lot. Too much, in fact.
Seated in an exit row, I had to verbally assent to being willing to help people out in case of an emergency. Otherwise, I would be seated somewhere else. Naturally I agreed because the extra leg room was nice. I didn’t bother telling the flight attendant that if an actual emergency arose I would be a blubbering idiot and no help to anyone.
Andrea Rouda blogs at The Daily Droid.