2004 Boy Meets Girl Book Tour Entry #4
Okay, only one more plane ride left on this tour—my ride home tomorrow. I'm in Kansas City, MO right now, having just blown through Austin and Cleveland, both of which were HIGHLY enjoyable because I got to stay in a Four Seasons and a Ritz, respectively. Oh, and because the people who showed up to my book signings in both those places were so savvy and cool. I mean it was like 7 degrees in Cleveland, and people STILL came to Joseph-Beth's to see me. And in Austin, it was 35 degrees, which for Austin, is LIKE 7 degrees. And yet readers still turned up for my signing at Book People. So Austin and Cleveland, you BOTH rock.
Now, on behalf of the many, many American business men and women with whom I have been traveling these past two weeks, I feel obligated to address a topic I feel has been woefully neglected in the media lately: Airport and airplane etiquette.
I am sorry to say that not nearly enough of us practice it. But the next time you are planning on traveling, please follow these simple steps, and you will find your experience that much more enjoyable:
MOVING CONCOURSES. Who doesn't love a moving concourse? When I was a kid, my best friend and I used to wish there was a moving concourse from our houses to the public library. Preferably an enclosed, air conditioned one. Much later I realized what we really meant was that we wished we had a car. But whatever, we got a lot of exercise. Although you get exercise on a moving concourse, unless you are one of those people who don't move on moving concourses. Hello. IT IS CALLED A MOVING CONCOURSE. Yes, the concourse is moving. And yes, the fact that you are standing on it means you are moving, too. BUT YOU WOULD MOVE MUCH FASTER IF YOU WOULD PUT YOUR BUTT IN GEAR AND NOT JUST STAND THERE JAWING ON YOUR CELL PHONE IN THE MIDDLE OF CONCOURSE SO THE PEOPLE WITH PLACES TO GO CAN'T GET AROUND YOU. Which leads me to….
CELL PHONES. If you MUST speak on your cell phone while standing next to, behind, or in front of me, please do not speak in a foreign language. It is very hard for the rest of us to eavesdrop on your conversation if we can't tell what you're saying.
GUM. I realize you are getting on a plane and you are deathly afraid that your eardrums might explode in midair from the pressure. But that is no reason for you to chew with your mouth open, or make weird snapping noises with your gum, much less blow bubbles, that very much annoy the rest of us. I have been riding planes all of my life, and my eardrums have never exploded, and I HATE gum. So please, keep it closed while you chew, or better yet, spit it out and drink some nice Aquafina like the rest of us. Flying is very dehydrating you know.
Small children. Yes, your small children ARE adorable. But please keep them away from the rest of us. I like children, but only at a distance. I know you are relieved that for once, your kid isn't crawling all over you. But that doesn't mean it's OK for them to crawl on me. Seriously, I did the baby-sitting thing in high school, and all, but the thing is, I GOT PAID FOR IT. No one is paying me to entertain your kid here in the airport. So keep it away from me.
When I was a kid and had a long airplane ride in my future, my mother would pack a special bag for each of us. We were not allowed to look inside the bag until we got to the airport. If we did not behave during the trip through the airport to the gate, we were not allowed to open our special bag at all. If we'd finally proven our worth, Mom would give us the bag, and inside, we would find all sorts of exotic treats, such as new books, puzzles, a miniature fashion doll with a whole wardrobe (for me), miniature GI Joe (for the boys), coloring books, new magic markers that actually worked, unlike the ones back home, and many other fun things that distracted us and kept us from climbing on our fellow passengers. Moms and Dads, please consider doing something like this for YOUR kids. Or you can rent DVDs and the players to show them at many airports now, and return them at your destination airport. Travelers like myself love to see kids sitting quietly in their seat, coloring or watching TV. We do not like to see kids lying in front of us screaming, “BUT I WANT IT” at the top of their lungs because you won't buy them Life Savers from the duty free. OK?
GUM AND KIDS: Deadly combination. Not only does the gum NEVER stay in their mouths, but is more often found in their hair or, more upsettingly, on my seat, I do not want gum. And yet when I tell your child this—even when I say, “Thank you, that is very sweet of you, but I don't care for gum, especially the gum you already chewed but are holding out for me in that special way.”–she cries. And cries. And asks you why that lady is so mean. I am not mean. I just don't like gum. Not even pre-chewed gum. Please tell your kids to keep their gum to themselves.
E-TICKETS. E-tickets are one of the greatest inventions of modern travel. With the birth of the E-ticket, long lines to check-in are banished! All you have to do is go up to a machine, stick your credit card in it, punch in a few pieces of information, and BANG! Out comes your boarding pass! It is that simple.
And yet, for some reason, many people who are in the E-ticket line do not know what an E-ticket is or how to get it out of the machine. They are just standing in the E-ticket line because it's shorter. Then, when they get to the front of the line, they stand there and bleat to whatever airline employee is nearby that they don't own a credit card. Please. For the love of God. Get out of the E-ticket line if you don't know what it's for.
SHOES. Several times on this tour I have encountered people who were HORRIFIED to discover they have to remove their shoes in order to go through the security check-in line. All I have to say to them is this: Dude, where have you been? Shut up and take off your shoes. I don't care about the holes in your socks. I don't care about your rights being violated. You know whose rights are being violated while you stand there arguing with the security officer? Mine. My right to move ahead in line. Get over it.
COATS: Coats are a different story. I understand that the security professionals are merely trying to be thorough. But when I travel, I like to wear a big, comfy, wrap-around sweater with fun fringe coming off it, BENEATH my coat. My big wrap-around sweater is CLEARLY not a coat. This should be obvious by the fact that my coat is on the security belt, waiting to be scanned. Please do not make me take off my big sweater. Because all I have on under it is a tiny tank top because that is the only clean article of clothing I own at this point in my tour. I don't want the whole airport to see my unshaven arm pits. Plus, I have no more clean bras. Please. Have pity on me.
SEATBACK: I understand that you want to relax. Believe me, I do, too. But you are on an AIRPLANE. You are not at a spa. Do not lower your seatback to its lowest point, so that your head is essentially in my lap. Sit up straight, and PAY ATTENTION. Anything can happen on a plane at any time, and you need to remain alert. Don't you watch Lifetime, for God's sake? The roof could rip off at any moment. Not to mention someone might decide to rush the cockpit. You need to be awake in order to stick out your leg and trip that person, then be prepared to wrestle him or her to the ground and sit on him until your fellow passengers can bind his hands and feet with the cables from my laptop. Which reminds me:
TERRORISTS: If you are a terrorist, please do not try to hijack the plane I or any of my fellow professional travelers are on. Because one of the many things you did on 9/11 was create an army of American men and business women who are fully prepared
to kick your ass if you even so much as TRY to get near that cockpit. Do you know that song by Eminem called Soldier? Every last one of us is a soldier now, and we are just waiting for you to try something on our plane, because when you do, we will act. No, I don't know kung-fu or kick-boxing. No, I am not a black-belt.
But I do know–from years of fighting with my two younger brothers–how to lower my center of gravity to the point that if I wrestle you to the ground and sit on you, you will be rendered immobile and also, you will not be able to breathe, at least not loudly enough to call for your mother.
And that won't be all I'll do. Because while I'm sitting there, I will urge all of the little children on the plane to come over to you. And I will let them CRAWL ALL OVER YOU with their snotty noses and sticky hands, and make you eat their gum until you cry for mercy. Only I won't have any mercy. I will sit there until the plane lands, by which time in all likelihood you will have suffocated from my weight. I'm not kidding either.
Thank you. I feel much better now. Let's all try to abide by these few simple tips and airports will be a much better place in general.
PS If you are in Kansas City, come see me tonight at my Rainy Day books signing at the Trinity Church. I'm hoping to see you there!