In 1967 my father bought a Pontiac Catalina and a dingy old travel trailer and took his girlfriend, my brother and me on a road trip. Over the next 8 weeks we drove 13,498 miles, visited 51 parks, and saw wonders like geysers, redwoods, grizzlies, and the Summer of Love in San Francisco. The trip made an indelible impression, cementing my appreciation for the natural world and the American landscape. This summer Pamela and I hope to repeat the experience for our family.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lark: The smiles are stored near the liquor

The old man across the aisle played solitaire for a few hours but then I presume his battery died because he put the laptop away and proceeded to try and sleep. That is fairly difficult due to the frequent announcements coming from the overly cheery flight attendants and the chairs that are so incredibly straight they would be uncomfortable for a stick figure. Relentlessly this man tried to sleep but every 30 seconds he would shift into a different position or would try and stretch because of the small confinement. It was hard to tell how old he was but he looked like a nice fellow. He smiled at me when we boarded, oh so long ago, and he didn’t get frustrated when the flight attendants with too much makeup announced that we would have a delay due to the “storm.” This man never got angry. He once got frustrated at the crumbs clogging the touch pad on his mouse but that is understandable because it makes the mouse slower. We cannot have that. No, not at all. A slow mouse would lower one's score in solitaire.

The ex-plastic flight attendants in their red, white and blue apparel come on the intercom to do the mini speech that is given EVERY single time one is to ride on an aircraft. “The life vests are located directly under the seats in case of an emergency and please make sure your trays and seats are in the full and upright position. In case of emergency oxygen masks will FALL FROM THE SKY. There will be four of them. Fasten them like so around your head and breathe calmly in and out. Parents please fasten your masks before helping children and others around you. The cushions on your chairs can be used as a flotation device.” These wannabe sexy flight attendants do a little dance in the aisle while this is all going on. They motion under the seats and to the various exits leaving the plane. They model the new fashion statement of life vests and oxygen masks. They smile vigorously all throughout the duration of the speech. When this is all over these polite and kind flight attendants go into the back of the plane where immediately their kind faces fall to the floor and they have a coke until they are needed again.

Unfortunately for us this time the time when they are needed came all too soon. That dreaded announcement came when we were waiting on the runway for lift off. It announced in syrup sweet, yet slightly static voice that due the “heavy rainfall” it would be a little while until we were able to fly. In the meantime they would turn off the engines to save fuel. Good for them. Save the planet. Most people groaned inwardly while those obnoxious old ladies complained out loud. Everyone whipped out their various whirring and beeping devises to tell people on the other end that they would be late. Then these people were chastised for having electronic devises present.

The only one on the plane that did not show disappointment even though his seat was next to a young couple was the old man across the aisle. He just kept playing his solitaire and didn’t even look up when flight attendants with the badly colored hair announced that a problem with the plane had been located and we would be turning around and going back to the gate. Once at the gate it was relayed to us useless passengers that they were working on fixing the plane but we wouldn’t leave anyway due to the rain and we might switch planes if they can’t fix it but no one can actually makes this decision so we will just sit here. On the plane. In the rain. Which is what we did for 3 and a half hours while no one could decide. Then finally the shorter less obnoxious one of the flight attendants announced on the intercom that we were moving forward. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Moving forward… in the world cup. And that America had beat Albania and we (America) would be progressing in the soccer world. Everyone groaned again but we were slightly happy for the soccer nerds.

By this time every one had read the evacuation manual to the point of memorization and had laughed at all the ridiculous things in the catalogs which lived in the Kangaroo pouches which were all to close to our knees. We had all said, seen, and thought everything interesting if we didn’t starve to death we would have died of boredom. If it wasn’t for the handy bag of candy distributed by mother I don’t think we would have made it. The man across the aisle continues to play solitaire and it made me wonder who is winning. Man or technology. Eventually the plane is fixed and we are not leaving but gas needs to be put back in the plane. Around 4 hours after getting on the plane we depart for San Diego.

Now the plane flies at a height of 36,000 feet and last we heard we were above Nebraska… Wherever that is. The old man is finally asleep but he looks slightly pained. Those lovely flight attendants had made their last rounds a few hours ago with the mini everything food and soda. Still the old man sleeps. Then those helpful flight attendants retreated back to their lairs where all of their smiles are stored next to the liquor. With luck I believe we will get there before dark.

No comments:

Post a Comment