Air travel is ingrained in our lives, but is it worth it?
Here is the thing: I?m leaving for vacation in just a few hours, but I have to write a column before I go.
Ostensibly, I think, I could write it from my parents? house and e-mail it back to Grass Valley. (God bless you, the Internet.) I could, in fact, simply wax prolific on the tried-and-true topic of airplane travel, seeing as how I?m just about to experience it.
Then I think again, and it occurs to me that I have a lot more energy now than I will one drive to Reno, two flights and three airports from now. I?d better just write the column tonight.
Besides, I don?t actually have to get on a plane to write this ? I already know what?s going to happen: I am going to be more irritated than usual and less sober than I need to be.
The thing about airports and airplanes is, the drinks are always expensive because the vast majority of air travelers are already irritated, and getting ?em drunk would just start a brawl.
But if drinks cost $6 a pop, nobody?s going to have more than a couple except for those Richie Riches flying first class, and they have no reason to be irritated, anyway.
I need at least five drinks before I start to get rowdy, so I end up waiting patiently in line with all the other rubes, smiling at the security people and taking off my shoes for them and reminding myself that they?re just doing their jobs and they?re not the idiots in charge.
It?s just an absolute shame that air travel is so ingrained in this country?s way of life, because it?s not worth it. I don?t know how fast those bullet trains they use in Japan are, but we?ve given the airlines a fair shot and they keep screwing it up. You use to get food all the time; now you?re lucky to get crackers. You used to be able to bring your 2-inch Swiss Army knife keychain with you; now you have to remember to leave it in the car. You used to get hijacked and they?d pull the plane over and park it somewhere in the Middle East; and I don?t even need to go there, but suffice it to say that it?s a lot harder to knock out a national landmark with a train.
Sure, trains are slower than planes ? maybe, once you figure in getting to the airport three hours early, waiting an hour for your luggage, and then spending another hour trying to find your aunt, who?s supposed to pick you up but won?t actually come into the airport because she doesn?t want to pay for parking, even though you?ve told her you?ll reimburse her ? but would it hurt America so much to slow down some?
If we took all the money we spent on air travel and used it to improve trains and videoconferencing, we could never have to fly continentally again, and I think the general morale of the whole country would improve.
The chances of that happening, of course, are about the same as getting a beer for two bucks at the airport. But that said, at least here in Nevada County and the surrounding areas, we have an ace up our sleeve:
Either California or Nevada is bound to legalize pot pretty soon. The airlines don?t have to worry about that one as long as the crew isn?t smokin?, because nobody gets high and wants to start a brawl. I don?t condone drug use, but next to sober air travel, it?s the lesser of two evils.
In the meantime, $6 beers, here I come. See you soon, Nevada County.
Josh Wimmer works on the copy desk at The Union. His column appears every other Friday. E-mail him at email@example.com or call him at 477-4239.
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