Most gringos here at lakeside have connections north of the border – family, friends, doctors, psycho house-renters. So, for most of us, there’s always a dreaded plane ride in the offing.
This past May produced an unusually high number of in-flight rages among passengers worldwide, resulting in fist fights and brash verbal conflicts. Aviation experts say they have no clue why, except to point the finger at flight-day alcohol consumption. Except that prohibiting alcohol for many would be like prohibiting rosary beads.
How about this? Maybe the rage results from airliners always scheduling for full capacity and overbooking, no matter the passenger risk or inconvenience.
The ultimate torment during air travel isn’t the fuss of air travel security. We’re used to it. Rather, it’s being ensnared in two cubic feet of space, ergonomically designed for the spatial needs of a Capuchin monkey (a creature that needs little personal space because he can do things like wash his face with his tongue). Humans aren’t monkeys, at least not until we land. This hours-long, shrink-wrap seating makes a Navy-Seal-hazing feel like a Swedish massage. End result is that most flights are a human sausage in macrocosm. One could be stuffed into a hockey bag, dumped into cargo and have a pleasanter journey. The recent video of the guy being forcibly dragged off an airplane could have been, to me, the story of a rescue mission.
The two cubic feet of space allotted you are quickly reduced by overlap from the two BIG co-passengers squeezed in on either side of you (who aren’t really big at all, but get big the moment they sit down). There is usually convivial acceptance all around, and an immediate forgiveness when your row mate gropes your buttock on his way to his seatbelt buckle. Once that’s done, there’s the awkward arm-rest sharing or “elbow wrestling,” squeezing you into even tighter quarters.
Your carry-on bag shrinks you further when you stuff it under the seat in front of you, leaving your limbs either dumped inside your carry-on, crushing your bag of pretzels or tucked beneath your own seat with the potential for a deep-vein thrombosis and possible death. It’s best to crush the pretzels, given that dying in mid-flight almost always ruins the in-flight movie for others. And of course, after takeoff, the guy in front of you will decide to lower his seatback into your lap’s remaining space, giving you the eerie feeling he’s looking for a shave.
The ban on electronic devices in some planes now removes your only distraction. You now have plenty of time to wonder about which things you touched by your seat that will give you a chronic respiratory disease. Cleaning frequency and diligence on airlines are not priorities. Do not permit your peanuts or any other edible to touch your tray table, for example. These are rarely sanitized, despite the fact that they’re used as headrests, footrests, baby changing tables, sneeze-tissue storage, and hotbeds of microbiome evolution. Disinfecting wipes should be handed out along with your peanuts.
Anyway, it’s always nice to hear the snack trolley coming. Except that now you need to decide whether to lower your tray-size petri dish into your lap. It always somehow fits just under the sleeping head of the imbecile in front of you. But it further compresses your only movable body part, your diaphragm, into a tortilla. At this point, while we don’t yet understand air rage, we have the scientific explanations for why animals in zoo cages often eat their keepers.
How about just a Skype call to north of the border instead.