Each Saturday morning of my high school years, I rumbled into the El Dorado Livestock Auction – the Sale Barn- before sunrise in my old ’69 Chevy Pickup. Semi-trucks and stock trailers full of bawling cattle lined up waiting to be unloaded. Cows, calves, steers, and heifers scrambled out of the trailers wild-eyed as an 8th grade boy asking a girl to dance. They began a journey through alleys and holding pens to the sale ring. Along the way, they were zapped with electric hot-shots, prodded with wooden canes, squeezed with metal gates, snapped with buggy whips, and called names that would make Kathy Griffin blush.
The Sale Barn was a lot like air travel. I sometimes wonder if the Transportation Security folks and the airlines get their training at the Sale Barn.
I can’t help it; every once in a while when I’m fighting my way through an airport, I moo. I’m not loud or obnoxious; it’s more of a sigh; like the mournful moo of the old cow that knows she’ll be hamburger next week.
However, I do appreciate security because I don’t want an idiot beside me trying to light his boxers on fire. Yet, I do think sometimes common sense is swapped out with insanity. I’d bet every penny I have the little old lady holding up the line with her industrial-sized can of Aqua-Net hairspray is not a suicide bomber.
The last time I came home from Africa it took me 37 hours from the time I left my hotel until I landed in Kansas. Moo. This is what I felt like:
As I’ve traveled through the years, I’ve noticed the seats getting smaller while the population gets bigger. When the 400-pound Mr. Biggie-Size-Me-Please waddles up in line, everyone suddenly becomes religious and asks God not to be assigned to the seat beside him.
God apparently didn’t listen to my recent pleas for mercy because I sat side-saddle for three hours by Mr. Biggie-Size-Me-Please who also was Mr. I-Haven’t-Showered-In-Three-Days.
An airline seat is basically a real estate transaction at 32,000 feet. If I buy a plot of ground that will only hold a 3-bedroom house and my neighbor buys the same size lot but wants to move in a mansion, then he needs to either downsize or buy an extra lot. The same ought to be true at 32,000 feet.
I’m boarding for Tanzania. I get a nervous twitch when I get ready to fly, but I calm down remembering 18th century missionaries bound for Africa; they packed their belongings in a coffin-their version of a “carry-on.”
Here’s what I’ve learned to make air travel more pleasant:
- Take my computer and write
- Take my iPad and watch whatever movies I want
- Noise-cancelling headphones are worth their weight in diamonds
- Be the most pleasant traveler on the plane, or at least try
- Ask the people behind me if it’s okay before I recline
- A smile for the attendant usually scores an extra bag of peanuts
- Thank the pilots for the great flight
And, when it gets stressful, just moo.
(all the photographs are mine unless otherwise noted)