Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Air Travel

It has occurred to me in my brief experience with this curious human phenomenon, that there are a significant amount of parallels that one can draw between this form of travel and another. I see a world where airports are trailer parks, and flight attendants are the bored housewives stuck in them.

It's quite easy if you imagine yourself as Dorothy, the first time flier, entering the place where tornadoes pick up houses and toss them into other worlds. And that somehow madmen have harnessed the power of these whirlwinds and set them to a schedule by which you can ride these Winnebagos with wings to far distant local with different times maybe different days or languages and certainly cultures.

And this type of trailer park has picked up it's own version of trailer trash. There are practically full time residents who spend the greater part of their time leap frogging from one tornado ridden Kansas farm to another. With no real grasp on the world beyond what they can see out the windows as they ride merrily over all of it, or glimpse in flashes from the TV in the ever present sports bar that exists in all places and yet seems to be one place unto itself outside of the basic physical reality of matter and time. There is at least one of these, what I call quantum similarities, in each Airport. Sometimes one per terminal. No matter which one you step into, in which part of this world, they are all the same. They serve airport food, and stiff drinks for the edgy people like me. But one thing is certain, you could take each and every one of them out of their respective buildings and shuffle them like cards and no one would be the wiser.

The even more die hard residents are the proprietors of these parks, the maintenance men and the landladies...otherwise known as pilots and flight attendants. They seem almost uncomfortable to be on firm ground. Only in the air do they have complete control of the situation, they know where the exits are, they know the exact buoyancy of their seat cushions, and they are fully aware of how the emergency landing equipment functions and how to implement a speedy escape down an inflated rubber slide. But on the ground? None of this applies. There are no emergency exits, not the way they think of them. There are no seat cushions to be used as flotation devices, and even more unnerving, no captive audience to listen to them explain all about them. They feel out of place sitting on a seat that isn't attached to a flying single, or better yet double, wide manufactured home. All they can see is the horror of the simplicity and mundanity of Kansas, and they look at each other and murmur quietly..."I don't think we're in Oz anymore." As they wait for the next flight to board, and the next batch of Dorothy's to initiate into the culture and beliefs of their world.


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