Sept. 18, 2018 I am not a “road warrior”, that troupe of sour-faced travelers who board first, feed like piranhas on bin space, and obsess over costly headsets. I occupy the next lower level, keeping my head down and hopes high. Realistically, I am just a stumbling, lumpen package hoping for passage through the storm. But I am observant and have accrued millions of opinion points. And the journey down my particular rabbit-hole sharpens the eye. Both hassles and conveniences are radically enlarged.
I like Southwest Airlines. There is no caste system. I receive kindly treatment by all. Pilots go down to the tarmac to retrieve my walker. Flight attendants generally comp my beer. Gate agents smile and chat. Sadly, Southwest’s rivers of passengers and rapid gate turnover has ghettoized its concourses. Midway is the worst. Lines for toilets, lines for food, lines for services. My modest life goal, don’t die in Midway Airport. I imagine the medical examiner waiting in line to process my fermenting carcass.
Sorry to say, Omaha Airport is second world. Blimpies and Taco Bell Express are the high-notes for food. The TSA seem to feel they are guarding the US Consulate in Baghdad. My privates have been caressed more in Omaha than during my singles years in Colorado. Where else but Omaha is there a random screening while in the boarding line? There is good news. It does have a fine bookstore. Nebraskans are engagingly courteous. And the TSA guy gave me a good-humored wink
I wonder if there is a government standard for escalator pitch. Approaching a down escalator, I see the horizon slip away. Do these devices have a safety auto-stop? Are fallen riders turned to ground chuck at the bottom? How does that descending woman carry a child, diaper bag, a large coffee? Whoa! Is she also talking on her phone? These are the questions as I seek an elevator.
The Vladimir Putin award for Insidious Degradation of American Comfort (IDAC) goes to the airline peanut bag industry. Fifteen peanuts encased in weaponized Mylar, sealed with aircraft grade epoxy. This is a perfect storm for a starving passenger with one useful hand. I’m not alone. The burly guy with the Harley shirt flings his bag to the floor. Delusional with hunger, I notice the fasten seat belt light. Is it a coded message saying “good luck with those fucking peanuts”?
Hands down, Indianapolis is the best travel experience. Wonderful airport, funny shuttle drivers, and nice sidewalks. Rest rooms are best of all. The paper towel machine dispenses the ideal length of towel in a single cycle. (Little things matter when home is all you think about.) And that ignites the big question – when will that engineer tackle the great peanut bag challenge?