Coffee, Tea or Thanksgiving?

Certainly, there are tons of positives in my life – none of my friends blew up, I’m pretty healthy for an out of shape guy, the recession means fewer unexpected out of town visitors, and my computer didn’t catch Nimda. But there’s a little thing I’m really thankful for today – travel.

I get around a lot in the course of my business, and that often means flying. When the recent unpleasantness occurred, everyone at work was grounded. Come home if you can, drive if you must, but no more trips anywhere, period. Notionally, it’s for security, but the general consensus holds that it’s a long sought excuse to cut travel expenses.

Turns out the ban isn’t absolute, and you can go out after dark as long as the Big Kahuna approves, which isn’t that hard to arrange. A few memos later and its off to the airport with a head full of tales of armed guards and strip searches and multi-hour waits. I arrive two hours early like a good frequent flyer, and the place is empty. There’s nooooobody at the airport except some bored National Guardsmen who seem happy to see me; it makes them feel like their job has some purpose. I’m safe, I’m through security in 30 seconds, and I’ve an hour and a half to kill. Oh well, that’s why they put bars in airports, but they don’t open at 8 AM.

Travel. That’s what I’m thankful for this year, even though it’s about as pleasant as the weekend before Thanksgiving in a snowstorm. There are new security measures, but most of them seem aimed at appeasing the media than actually stopping a hijacking. Imbued with paranoia, you look at everything and everyone on board with a new distrust. Is the guy on the cell phone speaking Arabic? Can I make a weapon out of a broken glass? Could I actually use it and do more damage to someone other than myself? Will that cheesy bar across the cockpit door stop anyone? Is the guy in the thick-soled black patent leather cop shoes an air marshal or just an industrial lubricant salesman? What the hell is a “snack,” anyway? But, I’m in motion, nobody’s gonna sit back and relax in flight anymore, and things are just a bit closer to last summer than they used to be. ◼

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