Saturday, May 10, 2008

Of Petty Tyrannies

My preferred method of travel is driving, but yesterday I found myself flying out to LA. Because Sarasota is off the beaten track, so to speak, I no longer fly directly to any destination. Since I was heading out to LA, this was a good thing.

Actually I don't fly anymore if I can avoid it, just as I will never again darken Disney World's doorstep. Many entities in the name of public health and political correctness have made the decision that it is okay to torture and inconvenience nicotine addicts like myself who have very little recourse but to submit. My absolute nightmare is being stuck on the tarmac for eight hours. I literally think I would get myself arrested. I don't wish to hurt or inconvenience others, but some consideration for approximately a quarter of the population- that's more than any minority group- would be nice. How about a sealed off area somewhere? What the greatly virtuous and inordinately "holier-than-thou" crowd miss is the horribly addictive nature of smoking.

So when, it comes to flying, if you add the airport wait time to the five hours it takes to fly out, Atlanta, which has a smokers' lounge, sounds just fine to me. Alas, my first flight was late, leaving me but fifteen minutes to cross the entire length of the airport. As it was, I was literally the last person on the connecting flight to LA. So I get on the airplane after about three hours of abstinence. By the end of the flight five hours later (we got delayed a bit), I was ready to cry or kill someone.

But then that's just the general backdrop of my trip. Being something less than a dinosaur, maybe a mammoth, when it comes to technology, I booked my flight online. I didn't choose seats because I figured I didn't much care. Mistake. I check in at the Delta counter where everyone else is getting boarding passes, and I get a "request for a seat." Okay, so I don't freak, yet. They'll do it at the gate when I check in there. But when I get to the gate, they're starting to board and the guy at the counter waves the unfortunates off with "I'm working on it."

Now I'm a bit annoyed. I book my ticket months ahead of time, and here I am lumped together with the standby supplicants. You know there's going to be no room in the overhead bin by the time I get on. And, as a veteran of Sunjet, I 'm a bit suspicious that they're going to say, "Oops, no more room." So I very mildly explain my concerns to the aforementioned guy, who looks like the actor with the once shaved head on the Las Vegas franchise of CSI. Oh, he tells me "Zone 1 is just for frequent fliers." Well, 1 was followed by Zone 2, and 3 and 4. When I get my boarding pass, I'm magically Zone 9. By the time it was announced, there were three of us left. I did not complain or cause a scene, because when it comes to flying, we do not enjoy many of our rights as American citizens.

So as I sat in the middle between two rather beefy fellows, one of whom had little familiarity with a bar of soap judging from the effluent he was giving off, I had to smile. I'm sure the guy who looks like the actor with the once shaved head really enjoyed that brief momentary exercise of power in what must be a pretty thankless occupation. As for me, my smokeless day was shot anyway. Thank you, Delta Airlines.

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