Sunday, January 11, 2009

Please Turn Off and Stow All Electronic Devices

One of the joys of returning to a country you have been away from for so long is not so much the frighteningly new things, the Wii and Blackberry to name only the two most perplexing and intriguing of that category. I think I threw my shoulder out playing Wii against my friends 10 year old the other day, but that's a story for another time. But more exciting than dealing with what's new is returning to things that have been as they are for years and years and wondering, with a fresh perspective- why the hell is it like this?

On my flight home from a wedding in Sacramento (congratulations again Brian!) a flight attendant frantically came down the aisle of the plane, zeroed in on my seat with a menace you never want to see from a woman who, for all intensive purposes, has proprietary control on anything and everything in your life above 30,000 feet.

She mumbled something incoherent. OK, well, it was probably coherent enough but I didn’t hear a word of it because my IPOD was rocking to World Town off M.I.A.'s Kala CD -one of the greater discoveries upon return to the states. But I paused it just in time to hear here repeat, with more disgust in her emotions, “sir, federal regulations prohibit the use of electronic items during takeoff or landing, please turn off your electronic musical device now.” Electronic musical device for those of you not in the know is my MP3 player even more commonly referred to as an IPOD. But anyways…

It made me think about flying and a few things I don’t quite understand. How is taking off my shoes at security making the plane any safer? Why is my water bottle treated as a possible plot to blow up a plane? Why do I have to pay extra to fly stand by on an earlier flight or pay $15 to check my bag for that matter... ok, the last two were new wonders but you get the point. But most disturbing of all, does my IPOD really have the capability to interfere with the on board technology of my 393,000 pound 747-400 so much so that we might crash and when they review the black box, they will determine beyond doubt that the landing wouldn’t have been a problem if the kid in seat 26D hadn’t kept his IPOD Shuffle on? And Yes, I Googled the weight of a 747 for the sake of enhanced journalistic integrity.

In the meantime I have taken a most righteous approach to the scenario. I apologized to the flight attendant and waited until she was seated for landing to flip on my IPOD. I know, I know, a true rebel without a cause, James Dean would look at me and be jealous. But really, what the heck to all the above questions about flying in the United States nowadays? And where did the free meals go? OK, that is probably asking too much...