Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fly me to the moon

posted Wed, 22 Dec 2004

“I’m at the airport,” is the most commonly-used phrase spoken on cellphones in the world, according to research done by the FCC.

Well, not really, but if you spend any time at all at an airport, you would come to that conclusion.

It was amateur hour at the airport today. I got on the plane in Atlanta and discovered someone sitting in my window seat. Now, I prefer the aisle seat to the window seat, so I didn’t mind switching so this girl, who was obviously on her first ever, ever flight could have the window, but don’t you think she should have been sitting in her own seat and then asked me to change seats rather than claim my seat and have her mother say, “You don’t mind if she stays in that seat, do you?”

To add insult to injury, both mother and daughter had already removed their shoes – and socks.

Would you take your shoes and socks off at the movies? At a restaurant? At church? At any other public place with strangers where it is expected that you will remain dressed?

No! Then why do people think it is OK to take off their socks in airplanes? Shoes, OK. I can see that, as long as your socks are clean and your feet are not stinky, but come on. No one wants to see your naked feet.

The good thing about the flight was that we were in the exit row. If you don’t fly much, you probably don’t recognize the significance of the exit row. The exit row gives you twice as much leg room as any other row. It is a highly desirable place to sit. Money has probably changed hands before so people could sit in the exit row. On most flights, only platinum fliers get exit-row seats.

But when I looked at the girl, she looked suspiciously young to me. You have to be over 15 years old to sit in the exit row. Federal law. “How old are you?” I asked.

“Fourteen,” she answered.

“You can’t sit here,” I told her. “It’s against the law. You’re going to have to move.”

Her mother turned to me and said, “Maybe nothing will happen. We’ll be OK.”

Right, lady, I wanted to say. So if we have a crash and the only thing that stands between us and death is your daughter and her ability to handle herself in an emergency, you’re OK with that?

When the flight attendant explained that we were in the exit row and asked if we were all willing to assume that responsibility, she did not seem bothered by the girl. I decided that if we crashed, the likelihood that we would actually survive to go out through that door was almost impossible, so worrying about this girl was pointless.

As it turned out, the daughter was far more responsible than the mother. The mother was videotaping the entire flight experience, including sitting there waiting for the plane to pull back from the gate. It was the daughter who told the mother she needed to turn off the video camera after the flight attendant gave instructions for all electronic devices to be turned off. When the mother said that the flight attendant didn’t mean video cameras, the daughter told her that yes, she did.

Anyhow. Harpo finally found me at the airport. We are in the Keys and have been fed well. More news later.

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