Thursday, August 13, 2009

Travel 30/3/09 – Dallas, Texas; International Airspace

Today's news was full of massacres and drive-by shootings. It is a coincidence we are leaving the US. News of this ilk always confirms my European perception that in the US you are never more than 100m away from a crazy neighbour or colleague. And all of these crazy people have access to guns.

I may have mentioned the difficulties we had with booking the flight, well there was one other minor little thing that occurred when we tried to change details online, that I haven't mentioned. A small bug meant that I was forced to select a meal type from the "fussy eaters" list. Normally, you can leave this field set to "I'm not a fussy eater, I'll eat whatever crap you throw at me." But somehow, it forced me to select something more specific. Probably because we had selected lactose free for Cath, some screwy back-room logic meant I had to select something too.

The "fussy eaters" list is quite long these days, and includes religious fussiness (kosher, halal, etc), conscience fussiness (vegetarian, vegan) and allergic-related fussiness (lactose-free, gluten-free). And even sub categories of these. I chose "Asian Vegetarian" because Asian vegetarian meals can be pretty good. I know people who always chose a special meal because they get their food before everyone else and they figure it's had more attention than the ones everyone else gets. However, I prefer to get my food at the same time as everybody else and not feel that the rest of the plane is looking on at me with resentment. Even when they probably aren't.

When my meal arrived, way ahead of most other people's, it proclaimed "Your Special Meal" in bright letters. I felt like I was 8 and not very gifted. It also had scrawled on it some garbage like "The smell of a fresh meal... on your face." It made no sense and made me feel this was a meal for someone so "special" it didn't matter what you wrote on it.

The "fussy" part of the meal only replaces the main part of what they give you, the extra ancillary bits are the same as everybody else. Which is why Cath, having been singled out and handed a lactose-free meal, free from any products containing or related to cow's milk, she was offered a pot of ice cream. Ice cream! It's hard to get more lactose than ice cream. She declined.

Obviously as we are talking about flights, the subject once again comes up: children. Why, oh, why are they still allowed to run, shout and scream in the same section of the plane that the civilised, adult members of the world pay for? Why has no airline started using the hold for the purposes of housing the children on a flight? I'd use that airline.

I don't say it to be mean to the kids, I say it as a way to get some relative peace. You can fill the hold with balls so they enjoy it. All pets travel that way and Children are just pets that will one day grow up to become people. Children love screaming in enclosed spaces; so why not give them an even more enclosed space in which they can scream to their little hearts and lungs' content.

To shut out the little buggers, I watched my first ever episode of Gilligan's Island. Now I have a clue when Americans in the audience shout out "Gilligan's Island." It was cute, but definitely of its day. I snuggled back and tried to dream of being on a desert island surrounded by coconut trees and not a single screaming child for thousands of miles.

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