When the Wright brothers invented man-made flight more than a century ago, I can’t imagine they thought it’d be a good idea for airlines to charge for meals when more than 200 people are stuck in the same plane for over four hours. Then again, they may not have imagined just how common and popular planes would be.
Almost anywhere in the country, we can look toward the heaven and see a plane bathed in sunlight at the end of the day.
Then again, someone on that plane might have just closed the blind, keeping that annoying light off the screen to watch a fictional character stuck on Mars, colonizing a planet with potatoes.
Speaking of uncomfortable situations, maybe the guy or girl stuck in the last row near the bathroom is rooted near someone who insists on sharing his life story, his experience with his neighbors, or his laundry list of gripes. If the Long Island Rail Road can make quiet cars, can airlines designate quiet sections? Maybe they can add a quiet button, with a picture of a flight attendant with a finger over her pursed lips on the bulkhead?
The flight attendant might whisper, “As you can see, the captain has turned on the ‘No-sharing terrible stories, petty frustrations, or things you might find funny with the person next to you button.’ Please, zip it! While you’re at it, please stop tapping that person on the shoulder to get him to look at you. He doesn’t want to look at you. He’s trying to close his eyes.”
We are a culture that marinates in our frustrations, anger and judgments.
“Can you believe the food cart only had chicken or fish and didn’t have a vegan/vegetarian/dairy-free option?” someone might ask.
“Would you have bought something from the cart?” we might reply.
“Heavens, no. Did you see the prices? I’m just saying they ought to offer it.”
Each flight starts with informative details. “We’ll be flying at 34,000 feet,” the captain might share in his best “The Right Stuff” voice.
“Excuse me, miss? Can we fly at 33,000 feet? My doctor suggested I stay below 33,000 feet because anything higher triggers the side effects from the drug I’m taking because of that ad on TV.”
Then there’s all the beeps. Bing! “You can move about the cabin now but keep your seat belt fastened when you’re in your seat.” Bing! “The restroom in the front is just for the first-class passengers, regardless of how badly you have to go to the bathroom because you ate nine hours of food so you wouldn’t be hungry and have to buy a meal on the plane.”
How about putting the people who want to invent new, safe and potentially delicious food options together with the airlines, giving people a chance to sample new foods? We’re a captive audience, watching movies, playing cards, reading and wondering whether we should be eating breakfast or dinner, depending on whether we’re trying to keep our stomachs on the local time in the place we left or the local time in the place we’re going to. While we’re sitting there, let’s watch independent films we can’t see in the suburbs and eat food that comes from the land we’re flying over.
I love those images of our plane that indicate where we are located. Too bad for Rhode Island and Delaware that the image is often bigger than the entire state. That could exacerbate a small state’s inferiority complex. The Wright brothers may have gotten us started, but we seem to have flown off course on our commercial flight conveniences. Bing!