by Pettus Read
My regular readers know that flying is one thing that I really don't enjoy. I know it is done everyday, but somehow, when it comes to me climbing inside an aluminum tube and then shot into the sky by giant rotating motors, I do question the technology. I can still hear my grandfather say, when asked if he had ever flown at the age of 97, "I don't swim and I don't fly. I don't do anything that once you stop doing it you die." Those comments are words of wisdom that come back to me each time I get on a plane. He lived to be 97 and that is also a family trait I would like to be noted for accomplishing.
I really don't like to fly and the way things are being handled on airlines these days, I am becoming even more disenchanted with mechanical winged flight. As I write this week's column, I have just returned from a conference in New Orleans and I'm still not overly impressed with modern day travel.
When I first started working with my current and only employer, there was some excitement of traveling by plane. Straight from the farm, it was exciting to go to exotic places like Waco, Texas, and Ashboro, North Carolina, or Green Bay, Wisconsin. Today, when I'm asked to fly somewhere, I feel like I'm being penalized for something.
I'm real glad they do all of the security checks they do today, but why do I seem to be the one that looks so suspicious? I am really quite simple looking, that is in dress and not in intelligence. It never fails, that when I go through the X-ray booth, every alarm they own goes off. There have been times that I have been down to the last item of clothing on my body that can be removed without embarrassing myself or others.
I have even started carrying zip-lock storage bags to put items from my pockets, all my jewelry, wallet and coins. After all of this, the security folks running the x-ray machines get hysterical looking at my driver license photo and pull me over to the side to ask what I was doing when I had that photo made.
One misconception is that airplanes are big. Sure, they make planes bigger, but only on the outside. They put more people on the inside which in turn makes them smaller. It never fails that the seats beside me are always empty just until they close the door. The last people to board the plane are sumo wrestlers who just happen to have the seats on each side of me. When they sit down their bodies expand in the direction of my seat, which is already too small for me. For the next two hours I am unable to raise my arms or move my feet.
Another thing I don't understand in airports is why all the rest rooms are equipped with high-tech sensors to turn water off and on, as well as automatic flushers for the toilets. Are air travelers so untrained at home that they don't know how to accomplish these simple feats? I'll never forget the first time I used one of those high-tech sinks. I would put my hands under the faucet and the water would come on. I would move my hands away and the water would stop. After looking for the hidden camera, that I figured must have been there to record people like me, I proceeded to lean over and look under the faucet to see what made it work. After almost drowning when the water came on, I determined that I had gotten into something a little more advanced than a water bucket and a dipper.
I don't understand the way they load planes either. Why don't they just load the window seats first, load the middle seats next, and load the aisle seats last? Anyone who gets on the plane out of order has to ride next to the sumo wrestlers.
One last piece of advice. If you can avoid the rest rooms on a plane, do that also. I never take my seatbelt off when I fly and the last place I want to be if a plane goes down is in a stainless steel facility with strange blue water.