Or Why the Hassle of Air Travel Really Isn’t. In which I muse about travel, history, human nature, and complaining (And why complaining is actually good for us, in my opinion)
Having just returned from San Antonio and the annual RWA conference, I was thinking about travel and other miracles. That’s right; I called it a miracle. Think about it. I went from Albuquerque to San Antonio in four hours, plus a couple more because of check-in, security, and my own paranoia about being late. A day of travel to go 616 miles (that’s 991.5 km for those of you who are sensible and use the metric system). And then back within a week’s time.
We complain about the hassle of travel: the late flights, the delays, the bus-like feel of those crammed flights. We don’t like paying baggage fees (thank you, Southwest Airlines, for not being one of those), so people shove their stuff into oversized carry-ons, then fight to close the overhead bins, and that doesn’t even talk about the people who think one personal item is a backpack the size of a Newfoundland, that hits everyone on the head as they’re trying to force their carry-on into a space that it clearly wasn’t meant for. We grow angry when weather (WEATHER!) cancels flights and spoils our plans. What an inconvenience! We grudgingly accept the security checkpoints and rail at the examples of stupidity they generate (Hey, you can’t underestimate the levels of ineptitude when you combine blind rules with the human factor. Mass hilarity ensues.).
We’ve become so blasé about travel that we complain about it. We are traveling better and faster than our ancestors could ever imagine. I can get to Europe to visit relatives in a day. It took Mark Twain months. St Louis to Oregon took three months by Conestoga wagon. Now you can drive it comfortably in two days. My parents took five days to cross the Atlantic when they came to this country on a ship. Phileas Fogg took eighty days around the world.
Today, my daughters went to school on the other side of the country and we kept in touch by phone or Skype, and they came home for the holidays. In the past, when a family member moved West because of lack of jobs or opportunities, they often said goodbye for forever.
So, yes, we are spoiled, but I’m not going to ask you to stop complaining. Mind you, we should continue. Complaining pushes us to new innovations, inventions, and industry. Complaints make us identify what can be enhanced and inspire us to search for better ways of doing things. Airlines should strive to improve performance, service, etc., but sometimes it’s just nice to sit back and think about just how good we actually have it. And here’s a chuckle to make that point.
Books I’m reading now:
Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore
Forbidden Kiss by Shannon Leigh