Flying on a Jet Plane

I flew to California yesterday for some work meetings. I found this flight to be an interesting platform on which to ponder various aspects in our social makeup. The Security Line

The security line is a funny place for me. Not really funny as much as hateful. Today in the security line, I noticed that one of the screens was playing a little animation about how to move through the line quickly, and about how The Government (e.g. the D.H.S.) was there to take care of you and make you safe. This made me think about two things:

1. How the people who came up with this scheme to make me wait in a 15-mile- long line, and then making me unpack and take my shoes off at the end of the line, are always talking about how they are for less government.

2. How utterly amateurish the production values were on the presentation.

I mean, these days I bet a third grader with Powerpoint or Keynote could have done something more compelling. Just who do we pay to make these public service announcements anyway?

Also, those “be sure to turn in people who seem to be acting strangely” signs were kinda creepy.

The Boarding Dance

While boarding the plane, I used to spend all my time wonder what, exactly, the tall, tanned, red-headed woman had packed into the footlocker that she was trying to heave up into the overhead. These days, I spend my time wondering what exactly the tall, tanned, red-headed chick is thumbing into her Blackberry that is so world-endingly important that she can’t wait until she has a proper laptop on which to write the message. It seems to me that if there were a modern version of a slaver’s yoke, it would be the Blackberry.

The In-Flight Movie

The in-flight movie has changed a lot too. Instead of one tiny screen at the end of the cabin that you can’t really see, you get a dozen even tinier screens that are even harder to see. In addtion, at least half the people on the plane have laptops and/or portable DVD players and have brought their own movies and collections of TV shows.

It seems to me that the iPod, the GBA, and the laptop with bittorent have made the in flight movie completely obsolete.


Landing used to be quiet. The plane would land, we would get the announcement that we landed, and then the plane would peacefully roll towards the gate as everyone stared out the window and anticipated hauling their stuff down from the overhead. Today when we land, the wierd noises start. Soon, it sounds like I’m playing a never before released special level of The Legend of Zelda: The Frequent Flyer. What’s going on? It’s all the phones booting up.

Truly we are a nation of gadget dorks.

Rental Car

Entering the car rental place, there is a formation of business people spaced perfectly across the floor as if laid out on a parallelogramic grid. They are all in identical clothes with identically sized little rolling bags hanging off of their left sides, and laptop cases hanging off their right sides. They move forward out of the elevator and towards the pickup parking lot, almost in lock step. It’s an amazing example of group synchronicity. I look forward, I look back, and I realize I’m in the crowd, with my travel clothes and my little rolling bag.