Monday, June 23, 2008

Airplane Lavatory: More Complicated Than It May Seem

On a flight from Miami to Quito, I discovered a few things about the airline industry that I found, well, newsworthy.

First things first- lightening. Miami International Airport (MIA) along with its compatriots LAX, JFK, DFW, etc… have managed to deliver wireless internet to all of its terminals. It appears they have the capabilities to land about one airplane every 1-2 minutes. And they’ve also managed to manipulate customers into thinking that $9 for a personal pizza from Pizza Hut really isn’t a bad deal. Throw in a $3 bottle of soda and you really got yourself a deal! And yet, when lightening strikes, they are helpless in the face of it. How do I know? Because I sat on an airplane for a little over three hours, parked a mere 100 feet from the gate that was empty and awaiting my plane. Lightening was in the area and apparently the entire airport, I swear to you, just shuts down. It seems to happen quick and without warning. And as I sat there, watching the rain helplessly fall, I was able to infiltrate this mysterious price raising industry known as aviation and learn a thing or two.

Flight Attendants. It’s a job that’s got its challenges so my intent isn’t to take anything away from these wonderful men and women who have, as far as I am concerned, been offering the entire can of soda instead of just the plastic cup a lot more as of late. But did you know it takes OVER 5 WEEKS of in class training to be a flight attendant. They cover the gambit, everything from how to properly wake a passenger up for his or her meal to simulated water landings that are practiced in, from what my inside sources tell me, a swimming pool. But over 5 weeks- really?

Third and most startling- the on board bathroom. Do you have any idea just how many American adults are helpless in operating the on board lavatory of your typical airplane? And no, I’m not talking etiquette rules like no peeing on the seat or no leaving paper towels all over the floor so I don’t walk out with something stuck to my shoe. I am talking the basics here people.

I had a seat near the lavatory and noticed the frequent and disturbing number of passengers who entered the bathroom after dinner was served who would enter, look around lost, and then press the help button to ask the flight attendant how to turn the light on. I once thought the bathroom was as standard an operation as the seat belt. For anyone who hasn’t been in a plane since 1963, you enter, you close the door. You lock the door, and just like that, a light is triggered to automatically switch on.

As I sat observing, I decided in honor of my Political Science degree to do a little statistical research. This may have been because due to the delay on the tarmac my IPOD was out of juice and sadly, the in air entertainment console in my seat was broken meaning I could only watch 27 Dresses with no sound. I did for a little bit, and I do believe I got as much out of it as the woman who watched it with sound next to me. It didn’t strike me as a complicated plot. As I grew tired of the muted movie, I did the only thing that seemed natural: I could count the number of people that went to the bathroom and the people who were able to successfully operate the bathroom light challenge in under one minute. Why one minute? Don’t ask too many questions.

The results: 17 out of 20 were unable to do so. I wish I was lying; it shames me to say this is true. And in case you are wondering about the three that succeeded: all three were, in my modest estimate, under the age of 15.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

To Feel Like an NBA Rookie

I’ve heard it said that rookies in the NBA always hit a slump near the end of the season. In college, the season has something like 35 games. The NBA on the other hand, has an 82 game season.

I feel like an NBA rookie, minus the lucrative contract and groupies and mean pranks by veterans. It’s June. For my entire life, school has started in late August and ended in May. My body aches. My brain is shutting down. Every part of me is confused as to why we are still going through this process of homework and tests and all that assortment of things that just need to come to an end.

Furthermore, the kids are going crazy. I think this might prove a theory that the September to May calendar is just intrinsic in the minds of children worldwide because the kids are acting like children ready to slam notebooks down and go screaming out the doors not to be seen with anything academic for 2 months.

This year, I will have to go to school on my birthday- July 16th. Now mind you, it’s my last day of school, but it’s still school. I’ve never once been in school for my birthday, and I tell you, it’s going to be weird…

And so I take consolation in the fact that NBA rookies undergo the same stress on their minds and bodies. Of course, they are paid anywhere from the league minimum $427,163 to millions of dollars to do it, whereas I, well, yeah… I have lost money directly out of my savings account over the past year. Damn NBA Rookies, and damn the aches and pains of the homestretch of being a teacher! How badly I want to walk back to my room singing “School’s Out For Summer” and then blast Lynard Skynard’s 9 minute version of “Free Bird” and truly feel free… free from grading, free from lesson planning, free from the overwhelming realization that while I love these kids, I NEVER EVER want to be a teacher again!