Fly Me To The Moon….PLEASE!

I’m baaa-aack! I had a restful two weeks away in Maine. That is, until I hit the airports today to come home. This will be the first of two new postings. I will write the second one after I catch my breath in a day or so. But this one must get written right now.

So I drive the three hours to the Portland, Maine (PWM) airport to fly home to Virginia (Baltimore-Washington Airport — BWI). Easy peaceful drive. I return the rental car to Avis (all brand trade names WILL be used here to specifically embarrass these entities who couldn’t conduct a service business if they’re lives depended on it, which they do). I was quoted a charge of $319 for two weeks on a good sized car. However, I dropped it off after only 12 days. The Avis personnel said there would be NO reduction in the price. I responded that, should I have kept the car two EXTRA days instead of returning it two days early, there WOULD be an extra charge. Correct. However, she said it is an “industry standard” that the weekly fees apply to anywhere from five to seven days. Thus, I get no reduction in the amount I owe. I felt like Jack Nicholson in “Five Easy Pieces” trying to order that simple omelet. Then I handed her a coupon for 25% off. No good. The coupon only comes into play if you turn it in BEFORE you complete the rental. Great deals, huh? The only problem is that there is so much small writing (teeny, weeny) you might as well kiss any deals goodbye.

Okay. So I know when I am beat. I then head to the terminal to the AirTran counter to get my boarding pass and check one bag. Keep in mind that we’re talking about a measly 1 1/2 hour flight. Now the Portland Airport is very small, but there were three attendants at the counter. Despite that, I was told to use the computer monitor to get my boarding pass. Instead of processing my reservation by the staff there to serve, I got a 15 minute computer lesson just so we could deem this process a truly automated system. Imagine: getting technologically educated instead of just a simple boarding pass. Remarkable. It’s a wonder why AirTran has any staff at all.

On to the security check area. On 9/11/01, one of the terrorists originated from PWM. As a result, the rigors of going through security at PWM are tough. The line today was long. As I waited to pass, I watched all the TSA employees do their job. And that was when I had a true epiphany. The whole scene was comical, absolutely hysterical. I vacillated between cursing and laughter as I watched passenger after passenger take their shoes and belts off, empty their pockets, take their laptops out of their cases and place, just the laptop itself, in a separate bin, remove jewelery and hair accessories, place their toiletries in a one quart sized Ziploc bag in a bin and on and on ad nauseum. Which was worse, a more telling statement? Was it that all these strip-downs and silly procedures really wouldn’t prevent a terrorist from getting done what he wants to get done (plastic explosives still cannot be identified in checked luggage!) or was it that all the passengers were going along with this nonsense? Totally sheep. But of course the alternative would be to get arrested and really, that would be such a time consuming process. The kicker was when a three year old little girl, wearing practically no clothing, had to go through the scanner four times! Percentage-wise, what do you think the chances are that some weapon is being hid on an almost naked toddler? Yet all those TSA employees have to justify their job existence.

This air transportation security screening is SUCH a violation of one’s personal rights and space. You would think in this day and age of high technology that this primitive “search-and-seek” method would be replaced. The searches are random and not thorough at all. Half of the TSA employees are just twiddling their thumbs. Do they think that having a bunch of uniforms there would really stop a terrorist? But hey, a pay check’s a pay check.

So on to board the plane. After I sit in my seat, I notice my seat mate is a man of about 60 years old. Seems nice enough. The plane takes off and then I hear, repeated about every ten minutes, laughter from the man next to me. It was loud and it was kind of like he knew something that I didn’t. I had a long talk with Moses, Jesus and Allah and their assurances that this guy did not have a box cutter on him were not at all soothing to me. Jeez, my luck to sit next to a man with multiple personalities. Or maybe he was just delusional or schizophrenic. Then I thought to myself: which would be better (if “better” is a relevant term at all for this situation)? Is it safer for me to be sitting next to Sybil, or the Bates guy from “Psycho, or the Unibomber? Which poison would you pick? The laughter continued until finally after an hour into the flight, I noticed the man was wearing earplugs! So I finally realized that he must be laughing at whatever he was listening to. Tuned out from the world, he never considered the fact that his behavior was in the least bit weird. Whew!

Then there was a young woman a few rows in back of me who constantly snapped the gum she was chewing. Furthermore, I guess she needed more stimulation that the snapping afforded her so she also blew a lot of loud bubbles. Nobody said a word. True, anyone who knows me will admit that I am very sound-sensitive. However, these noises emanating from this woman were downright offensive. Even of we were outside in a park, instead of being confined in a very small, enclosed space, these noises would be atrocious. So every time I heard her sounds, I jerked my head around and stared her down. She too, was wearing headphones. I guess manners are immaterial if the person herself can’t hear her rude insults. The noises finally ceased, but don’t I know that all the other people thought I was the rude, crazy person. Ask me if I care.

To add insult to injury on this wonderful flight experience, just before landing the stewardess gets on the loudspeaker and instructs all the passengers to turn up the air blowers as high as they would go, pull down all the window shades and finally, empty out all the garbage from the seatback pockets and clean the floors of all debris. Done. We just cleaned up the plane for the next batch of passengers and saved AirTran the cost of a cleaning crew. Aren’t we lucky dogs? We not only get to pay for our transportation, but also we get to work clean-up. What a country!

After the plane lands, I head to baggage claim. My bag would be delivered to carousel number 11. Ten minutes pass, 20 minutes pass, 30 minutes elapse. I cannot find one staff person to ask where the luggage is. So, being the really short person I am, I creep under the security rope and go into the baggage unloading area in the rear of the carousels. I yell, “Helloooooooo —– anyone work here?” numerous times before anyone responds. Nobody actually knew where the luggage was from my flight, nor did they care. “Don’t yell at me Lady. I just work here!” Well isn’t that the point? After a total wait at claims of 45 minutes, my bag arrived.

So that was my day. Flying today is a horrendous proposition. I understand that the airlines need to save money, that their bottom lines are really hurting. But from now on, despite the cost of gasoline, I will drive whenever possible. Visits to my daughter in Seattle will be the only exception I will make. I definitely would rather go to the moon than any airport.

Please check back tomorrow or Saturday as I will be posting some comments on the political events of the last two weeks. You will hear my thoughts on Jesse “Messy” Jackson as well as some revelations I have had while reading Barack Obama’s first book, “Dreams From My Father”. Furthermore, I will include my daughter Maribel’s (or in techno-speak as she has informed me, I will EMBED) newest song that she wrote and performed called “Minnesota”. It is a classic anti-war song that will put you in tears. The title comes from the place where Obama acknowledged his nomination as the Democratic Presidential nominee. Speak to you then.

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One Response to “Fly Me To The Moon….PLEASE!”

  1. escott Says:

    it was a chicken salad sandwich, fyi

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