Into the Meat Grinder

...when I was but an innocent lad, my mom had this device that was so dangerous that it could kill you even if you just looked at it. It was of a gray cast metal and would, when in use, loom in wait... thumb-screwed securely to the edge of our kitchen counter waiting for an innocent child, like myself, to insert a digit for medieval sacrifice. I remember the box it was stored in and knew where it was kept. My sibs and I would oft times of a rainy afternoon sneak it out and go at one another with it. I'd taken a couple of fairly severe hits with this torture device from my superior siblings by the time I was six and was duty bound to pass the experience on to my subordinate sibling when his turn came. Once in a while this instrument was used to grind meat for various recipes...that was boring. Anyone who knows this device probably knows of what I speak, although my wife assures me that she thinks it is a male thing as her family consisting of four female children had the same type device and used it only for its intended purposes. Strange.

This brings me directly into the air transportation industry and how customers are routinely treated. Let me tell ya, there are opportunities abounding here for the entrepreneur. Why, if I were one them entrepreneurs and not an sculptor, why I would be twisting the tip of a pencil against the tip of my tongue like in those olden day pictures and getting ready to formulate. A child could come up with a better method of moving people across the country than what they have now. Thank God for the they can torture travelers at 100 times the speed they used to be able to do by hand. With computers, not only can they make you miss planes, but now they can decide specifically where you are to miss them.

My family and I missed a plane by a mere pittance of minutes in Philly....did it wait? Hahahahahahahaha,, it didn't wait, but we sure as hell waited and waited for our next flight out. The bad news on top of the bad news is that we were bumped up to First my children will never be happy in coach again. Not only that, when we boarded this plane we were told we had to wait just a second or two for some transferring folks from a European flight? Why are they waiting for them and they wouldn't wait for us on the flight we were supposed to have been on? Not only that, but when these Europeans (they looked the same to me as everybody else!) finally started boarding about 35-40 minutes later, a lot of them were eating freshly purchased snacks and such...they had stopped at the concession stands while hurrying to catch the flight they were holding up that was waiting to take off so they could serve an inflate supper for all who had waited. How tres continental!

The day started out bad. Weather front coming in. That ''5 in a Honda plus luggage'' crowded ride to the airport. New flying regulations and all. My ten-yr-old daughter chose to travel in a pair of new sneakers that converted into roller skates at the push of a few buttons. Well, this pair of beauties caused metal detector mayhem. She was put through the same grueling personal search as the scruffiest hardened offenders...those with mirrors and keychains. She loved it. I didn't. Figures. They told us that she should take her shoes off before every encounter with a searching device. Sage advice.

There were others. We met them en route. An overheard piece of a conversation here, being told of a pen confiscated from a matronly woman there, the abducted fingernail polish remover. How and when do these items get returned anyhow? Are they put on the plane somewhere in some secure and secret stashing area to be returned at a final destination? I though I heard bleating in the distance in Tampa. One passenger told us that if we wanted to keep these items they could be packed in our luggageŠ which ironically was already being chuted into the bowels of the plane, hopefully the one we were about to board. How would you like to be the one who held up the flight an additional 20 minutes so you could slip your fingernail clipper into you suitcase? Not for me. One rolls with the punches, I guess.

This is where the entrepreneurial part comes in. Surely someone reading this could come up with a better system, I'm sure the air transportation industry would embrace you and implement the necessary changes posthaste. Things would start to move again, resentments would cease. No political machinery to bog you down. It wouldn't be about money, it would be about social interest. The world would turn happy and all problems would cease.

''Wake up Jules, you were babbling in your sleep again.'' ''Huh? What? Huh? Okay, Sweetie, (rolling over) good night.''

Uploaded to The Zephyr website May 1, 2002

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