Traveler Part 1

Air travel is my least desired mode for moving from point A to point B. There are a multitude of reasons. Not the least of which is an ingrained need to be in control. Also exists in me the desire to not sit three inches away from a large sweaty perfect stranger, who among other things fidgets and farts and whose 12 hour deodorant wore out long before the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) finished screening him. Do you think there might be large sweaty guy profiling going on? Of course not. Everyone knows that profiling is not allowed.

My preferred mode of travel is from the comfortable seating found inside the friendly confines of my car. The Nanny State is trying to make that less desirous too. The nannies, who are unable to solve real problems of state, do not want me to talk on the phone or smoke while operating my privately owned vehicle and demand that I wear a seatbelt. Those are sensible things, but I never felt it was the government’s job to concern itself with them. It implies that I am not wise enough to choose the sensible way. To the nannies, choice only matters when it is a choice they would make. The kind of thinking that feels it needs to tell me to not talk on my cell phone while I am in traffic leads to such things as nationalized health care, but I do not want to get off track here. These laws work as well as do speed limit signs. If they really worked, drunks would not be killing people on the highways, but back to sky travel.

Do you remember the days when you picked up the phone, called the airline of choice and a courteous agent booked your flight reservation and thanked you for choosing to fly the friendly skies? Then you turned up at the ticket counter shortly before the flight, bought your ticket, checked your bags, without purchasing passage for the bags themselves, and strolled leisurely to your departure gate. No? We were out of control in those days were we not? I do not know how we lived through it. We also survived without child car seats, seat belts, bicycle helmets and knee pads. Our inability to look out for ourselves has kept a lot of people employed I guess. Although these days the employed mostly speak Chinese.

So back to the future. Today, you go online to your favorite discount site or directly to the airline of choice. Or if you prefer human intervention you can call an 800 number and after pressing 1 for English, 2 for Arabic, 3 for… then making your way through an elaborate tier of menu choices, you may discover that you did not want to travel that badly in the first place. Or if you are more advanced in age, like over 40, your telephone cybermatron interaction may cause you to forget why you called, or who, resulting in you returning to something simpler like your oatmeal.

Online, you enter your desired travel dates, point of origin and destination into the queues. When you tell it to go, a message pops up and demands that you wait while it searches for flights. Even computers can develop snarky little habits like making you wait – even when you are the only one standing in the cyber line. Speaking of snarky computer antics, have you noticed how snotty the GPS gal sounds when she declares that she is “recalculating” because you had the audacity to choose another route? Let’s not digress into GPS, but I do think it is just another sinister piece of control. You have noticed how accurate the GPS is? If the satellite knows precisely where you are on the planet, Big Brother knows where to send the missile. Paranoid? Me? Have you ever met the guy who insisted that the government implanted a tracking device in his head? Well, we are all too smart to believe the government would ever stoop to that. Besides, they are too busy enforcing the no cell phone talking while driving laws to be tracking us subversives with our own GPS units. What were we talking about? Oh, I remember now.

The computerized air line agent gives you a multitude of potential itineraries, cheapest first if that is your preference. After your selection, you make your way through the process to the last step of selecting your seats. That is when you discover that, although it may be months before your flight, all of the aisle seats are taken up by stinky fat guys who fart and fidget. You also find out that no matter the amount of frequent flier miles you have racked up it is never quite enough to earn you a free ticket or an upgrade from the cattle car to human accommodations.

Once you have surrendered and typed in your debit card number, to include the security code you did not know you had and hit the buy now button the money for those non-refundable cheapest seats makes a hasty cyber-exit from your bank account. The computer does not ask if you are sure you want to spend all of that money here or ask you to please wait. No buddy. Zip – Zap, instant mugging. Let us pray that the government never figures out how to do take our money as efficiently. However, it may be better in the long run if they do rather than paying the salaries and pensions of millions of IRS agents. I know, I know. Digression again.

© 2011

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