Friday, January 27, 2012

Learning To Fly

People who don't know how to travel crack me up.

The efficiency of the security situation at JFK's JetBlue Terminal 5 has been deteriorating in recent months as they struggle to reconcile the time-consuming Backscatter X-Ray with the crush of some of the world's largest traveling crowds. It's irritating, and I have a lot of serious doubts about the utility of the Backscatter, but I also know there's no point in yelling at the badly paid goons working for TSA that it takes too long and your flight will be leaving soon. There's an easy solution - arrive earlier. There's a slightly more complicated solution as well - be courteous and ask them to accommodate you. Being nice actually works.

The other thing that works, apart from making sure that you give yourself enough time is to develop a reasonable tolerance for fuckery. After moving through the disorganized line I made it to my gate on time, and we boarded the aircraft. Once everyone was lashed in the pilot stepped into the cabin and announced, "Sorry folks, we're delayed. It stinks, but there's nothing we can do about it. We're gonna be an hour or an hour and a half. What happened is there's a maintenance issue on this aircraft that won't let us fly when it's foggy and cold. Outside now it's foggy, and also, it's cold. Now normally we'd have just swapped out planes, except the planes we'd have swapped out are similarly delayed on their approach. So, we need everyone to please deplane and we'll get you back on as soon as we can, but most likely that's gonna be an hour or an hour and a half. Sorry again."

Well. When the traveler beside me heard this, you would think that someone had just walked over and baldly stated that his wife was a rude name who also performed sexual favors on livestock, because his face turned magenta, he started slamming things and muttering "fuck" very loudly. Moans from the folks behind me about how horrible, how awful, how this was damaging their day.

Really?

Come on, folks, it's the 21st Century, and we're in a fucking space ship that's taking you across a distance that would have taken days one hundred years ago in the space of 3 hours. It's inconvenient, but it's nobody's fault, and there's nothing you can do about it. It's just a delay. As Bob Dylan said, "you will not die, it's not poison."

I stepped off the plane and apologized to the crew for my fellow passengers, which they found extremely funny. As we left the plane a buffet of snacks and sodas was set up to accommodate the wait and my fellow Americans descended like locusts. Magenta face man grabbed 4 bags of chips to assuage his suffering.

I've been traveling professionally for at least 14 years and there's two secrets to it: 1) Don't waste energy fuming about what's outside your control, and 2) Don't be a dick to the people working there. If you're nice, and if you accept that shit happens you'll have a much better time of it.

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