Monday, April 18, 2011

The joys of travel

had an odd flight to Utah this time. It involved going from SeaTac down to Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, enduring several hours of layover, then hopping on another plane and flying into Salt Lake City. The layover took even longer than I'd anticipated, in part because we had a plane sitting at the gate all ready to go, but no one to fly it. They finally flew a pilot in from some other airport and had him take care of business.

It was kind of funny to see what happened the minute the flight was announced as delayed. Some people groaned. Others muttered. Then out came the electronic pacifiers. People were tweeting and iPodding and checking out the weather with gusto and vigor.

I regularly claim that I'll have to be dragged into the 21st century kicking and screaming because I still don't have a cell phone. Captain Midnight has one, and on my last trip to New York I borrowed it from him. I'll admit it was handy, but I also spent too much time playing with it. This time I went without, assuming (rightly, as it turned out) that if I really needed to get hold of family I could politely ask to borrow a stranger's phone. (In fact, this worked perfectly in all cases but one, where a guy who had just barely finished a phone conversation stuttered out the claim that his phone wasn't working. Uh, yeah. Who were you talking to, Mr. Snuffleupagus? Look, you are well within your right just to say "no" to a stranger who asks for your phone, and I wouldn't have thought ill of this guy if he had. He didn't know me from Adam and I was asking him for a favor involving the use of a relatively expensive gadget, so I understand his reluctance. But bald-faced lying to someone -- especially when both parties know it's a lie -- is just stupid.)

The flight to Salt Lake had the added benefit of live entertainment. In front of me there was a mom flying solo with her two little kids, ages about five and three. They were really cute, but it was also far past their bedtime and they were being super naughty and sassy. For some reason I found their antics a source of endless amusement. I passed them little notes to distract them, with mixed results. After a while the overhead lights dimmed and they fell asleep. They've got a good mom, doing a hard job.

It occurred to me, as it's occurred to countless others, how cushy we really have it. We tend to notice countless modern conveniences only when there's room to complain over their having gone wrong in some way. I kvetch about my flight being delayed for an hour, when one and a half centuries ago people were jolting along in covered wagons or pulling handcarts, taking months to travel a route that now takes mere hours to fly. Even a century ago the fastest transportation was by rail, and it took days. But now we whine over the blessings of technology, when we're not ignoring them entirely. Go fig.

Later I may or may not share foties of my sister's opener. Meanwhile, I gotta eat something.

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