Monday, August 22, 2011

FTT Off-Topic: We Do Not Deserve Our Technology

As always with FTT Off Topic, if you are not interested, go look at the rest of the Internet. Now, I'm gonna vent.

The great comedian Louis CK talks about how everything is great now, but everyone is miserable; he then goes into people complaining about the Wifi not working on a plane, or people moaning about their cell phone reception, or just the very act of complaining about travel in general, since historically, travel is damned deadly dangerous. Today, I started my day in New Jersey and ended it in California, and that's all kinds of crazy in any historical level, and probably indefensible from an environmental standpoint, but so be it. It's a miracle.

Brought low, of course, by the people who experience it.

I had enough time today, and not enough laptop battery life, to count how many plane trips I've made. I got up to a little over 60; enough to know the pre-flight safety speech by heart, but not enough to be utterly blase about the whole thing. I've also flown enough to know that if you want your flight to leave on time, it had best be the first one that leaves in the morning, because all of the others will have to answer for the sins of the father. Finally, I'm paranoid about security, and convinced that it will always take forever when it rarely does.

So today, I'm there on time despite a cloudburst en route to the airport and a raging fire by the side of the highway. I suffer a pretty awful moment of spilling a drink all over the laptop bag (joy), and then United moves the gate twice while leaving an hour late. As my time to transfer for my connection is just seventy minutes, that's all kinds of stress inducing, but I wound up not missing anything. So why complain, and why does this seem like such an ordeal?

It's simple: flying involves close proximity to the general public, and the general public... is generally horrible. Or, at the very least, seemingly incapable of realizing how to behave in public.

On the flight from NJ to LA, there's a screaming kid. I've got sympathy for this: I have kids, and the simple fact of life is that once you have kids, the screams of others is actually kind of OK, since they aren't yours. Phew. But after a couple of hours? Not so much. Drug the beast. And by the way, if I could fly an airline that legally discriminated against families with strollers, anyone in a wheelchair, and summarily ejected anyone who dawdles or tries to walk and talk with a cell phone... well, I'd probably still buy on price. But I'd so want you to succeed, even with the inevitable lawsuit.

On the flight from LA to San Jose, this should be the easy part of the trip. It's just 40 minutes in the air, after all, and the little jet is nice enough; I'm not a big guy, so the relative lack of leg room isn't a problem, especially on a shorter flight. But the people on said flight? Not so much.

The woman to the right of me has an iPad that she won't close or power down, setting the staff on edge. Once she gets the green light to use the thing for the 20 minutes that she's allowed, it's impossible not to sneak a peek; after all, it's a gorgeous gadget and video display, and we're on top of each other, after all. But how she uses it, with jabbing fingers of irritation that calls to mind nothing so much as a spoiled child? GAHHH. TEH HATE, IT BURNS...

But not as much, really, as the loudtalking coeds a row over, who are having one of those shout at each other conversations that I can hear every word of, despite the hum of the engines and my own earbuds. There was solid cloud cover over San Jose, and as I'm wondering just how far we have to go in the trip, the plane dives straight into the cloud bank.

It's something fairly magical, really; we're absolutely encased in the cloud, and it's otherworldly. Any sense of momentum is lost, and even gravity; I'm just staring at it, transfixed. Or would be, if only the coeds would stop talking for just a single goddamned second. The cloud turns slowly pink, then orange, and then the lights of San Jose blink into existence, as I realize that the colors are just refracted light from the city.

The coeds keep nattering on about how poor test scores don't matter, and that no one should ever make you feel bad about thinking different.

I beg to differ. Someone will make them feel bad, and I, for one, will be glad...

1 comment:

CMJDad said...

It's now official. You're an old fart. Welcome to the club, pal.

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