• Inflight Masking Fight Club

    May 29, 2022 // 1 Comment »

    Fulfilling family obligations in 2022 means long haul flights of dozens of hours. By hours, I mean because everything already has been on Netflix each in-air hour is longer than others, say those that pass during on-beach massage sessions. The only thing that makes in-air time tolerable is Inflight Fight Club.

    The first rule of Inflight Fight Club is you can talk about it; what else is there to do for seven hours? Yet as much fun as it is to watch someone combat it out with a flight attendant, all this is unnecessary. And for the lawyers, this article in no way condones violence in the air, whether it is the 800th passive aggressive reference to seats being in the upright position or something criminal.

    America faces a crossroads for air travel, a reckoning as inevitable but necessary as changing planes in Atlanta. On April 18 the current TSA masking mandate expires, and the Agency will either renew it or allow it to expire. Airline executives, fearful of their bottom lines, have asked Joe Biden to let it fade away. Airline flight attendants, just fearful, want it extended indefinitely, the take off your shoes mandate of this generation. Leaving aside the actual logic, which says it makes no sense to be unmasked literally everywhere else, including places that have none of the protective air filtration system aircraft do, ending the mask mandate will be a positive step toward ending Inflight Fight Club.

    Flight attendants, deep into Fight Club culture, may in advance want to chat with their bosses about the full range of Gitmo-ization available to ensure “passengers” (we’ll employ the traditional nomenclature here but the correct term is “tolerants in need of transportation”) are pre-angered long before taking their undersized seats. Drip pricing means everyone has paid something more than the old-timey cost of a ticket that will carry their lard from Cleveland to Tampa (with a stopover in Atlanta.)

    Want a normal sized seat? Pay for Economy Plus. Want to sit with your spouse instead of an airsick stranger? Pay for pre-reserved seats. Pay for a suitcase, or pay to get aboard first to join the scrum for carry-on space. And if you really want to travel “in style,” such as having access to a toilet that is not marked with “Biohazard” tape, you can pay double for business class where a child kicks the back of your larger seat instead of a smaller seat.

    Inflight Fight Club is made much worse by the infantilization of passengers. We can’t be trusted to enjoy a drink. We can’t be trusted to buckle up. We can’t be trusted to “stow” (cynicism aside, points to the airlines for steadfastly maintaining a handful of nautical terms. Inflight Fight Club would shrivel away if the pilot said “Avast ye!” on taking off and everyone cheered) our tray table. Our laptop, if we press CRTL+SHIFT+C+X will crash the plane unless a flight attendant stands over us to ensure that one last email check is postponed until Denver. Like kindergarten, we plead “Just two more minutes, please!” In the end only adults are allowed to stand and I swear this plane is not going anywhere, especially not recess, unless everyone takes their seats NOW!

    Was it a surprise when airlines started charging crazy amounts to check luggage/and or mishandling crazy amounts of luggage that people would bring more on board, to the point where a flight without livestock in Economy is noteworthy? For all the bullying by flight attendants, why is someone’s choice to drag aboard a full-on IBM desktop with CRT monitor never questioned if they call it a personal item? Why aren’t flight attendants deputized to throw cardboard boxes leaking chicken fat and bound with wire overboard instead of spending time cramming them into the overhead bins?

    Instead it is some sort of game — whatever someone can MacGyver past the boarding agent the flight attendant must find room for. New rules are needed; passengers who follow the new rules would instead cheer for attendants instead of greasing up to take them mano-a-mano when the Sprite runs out and all that’s left is Diet 7-Up.

    That said, flight attendants, a quiet word or two for you: chill the freak out. Statistically, none of us on board are terrorists. Realistically, none of us are going to kill you with disease (so last year!) Almost all of us just want to get home as peacefully as possible. So try “Would you please…” instead of “Sir, SIR, I need you to squat and cough, now, sir.” Be like the savvy beat cop and maybe, just maybe “accidentally” skip some enforceable thing like an old man deep asleep who you startle awake because his seatbelt is unbuckled.

    I bet we all are willing to take the chance absolutely nothing will happen until we land safely. Same for the tired mom standing and swaying to keep her baby quiet; let her “congregate” near the restrooms, we all promise to take out the baby if she is a terrorist. Your boss is in the cockpit so you won’t get caught. By the way, speaking of the pilot, nobody is impressed when you say “The captain asks that you…” See, we know it’s you, that the captain did not really pull you aside and say “Say, Betty, let’s have them read the safety card this flight, ‘kay sweetheart?”

    Straight up: flight attendants, you’re not caught in the middle, you’re part of the problem. It takes two to fight, unless it is Spring Break and then maybe it takes 10 or 12.

    We can all make this easier on all of us. Look at the room for improvement: TSA reported over 3,800 incidents in the last year involving masks alone, with 2,700 warning notices issued and over 900 civil penalties levied against passengers. Let’s end masking on planes on April 18 as a start.

     

     

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Economy, Other Ideas

    Old Laws Never Die, A Tale of Covid and the DMV

    October 12, 2021 // 4 Comments »


    Two weeks to flatten the curve became 18 months of masks and vax mandates with no end in sight. New powers to regulate lives seized from the people by government. Rules which make no common sense dominate our lives, experiments in compliance not science. How do Covid restrictions end? They likely never will.

    I learned this at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV.) My re-education started when I was told to prove as an American citizen in an American state that I am “resident” here, not simply being an American in America. I’m a good sport and wanted to comply, just like I try to keep up with the latest rules and Purell my hands 600 times a day against an airborne virus. I knew threats weren’t inherently political, right, and you just can’t be too careful.

    For proof of residence the DMV wants some sort of olde timey paper trail, returned check stubs and paper utility bills. No one at the DMV seems aware all this stuff went to “the online” a while ago, and that it is sort of normal to reside in one state with an online bank in another state and no paper bills or statements from anywhere with only a cell phone from an area code from two moves ago and which banks still return cancelled paper checks each month anyway? They growled at me for even raising the question.

    Like the waitress who had no idea how to explain why I needed a mask to walk to my table but no mask when I sat at my table, the DMV clerk said she was not allowed to look at my phone screen or scroll through my apps to see evidence of me paying local condo fees, having a local address with a distant bank, etc. I was told to go home and print out everything and she’d take a look. And because of Covid, next available appointment is, let’s see… never. I will have to keep my old McLovin’ license a while longer. I timidly asked why?

    “Because of 9/11” the clerk said in that voice used with really stupid children. It was clear she did not know more than that about why she was demanding these things of me, so no point pressing it. It took me a moment to remember 9/11 as 9/11 was twenty years ago. I asked the clerk where she was on that fateful day and she said “In fifth grade.” I can easily imagine my children 20 years in the future having a similar conversation about why they had to prove their 35th booster shot to go bowling.

    I said a silent thanks that our vax passports are all electronic now, handy on the same phone my movements are tracked by so if I get lost someone can find me. Think how silly jokes like “Papers, bitte, mein herr!” will sound in the future when there’s no paper! LOL.

    The problem with old laws that once were enacted for our safety amidst an emergency is they never go away. They don’t adapt to new realities. Power taken is not returned. Fear becomes the standing justification for everything. I realized while threats aren’t necessarily inherently political, the responses sure are. It’s easy, and politically fun, the claim all the fears over Covid restrictions on our liberties are just conspiracy theories, deplorable gasping. It is easy for the media to ignore the many people opposed to masks are not anti-science but anti-politically charged public policy. The media forget once upon a time a driver’s license was just so you could drive not an excuse to gather personal information.

    The Real ID law was where my problems at the DMV started, the 2004 law a result of recommendations from the 9/11 Commission, who discovered 18 of the 19 hijackers obtained legit state IDs. Fun fact: the hijackers were all legally present in the United States, most fully resident and able to prove it, holding legitimately issued student visas for their flight schools and would have passed the Real ID speed bump had it existed then. Nonetheless, in the interest of safety Something Had to Be Done, albeit the equivalent of a cloth condom. Or a poorly fitting dust mask.

    So America’s 245 million license holders had to make an in-person visit to their DMV with all these bits of paper in order to obtain a Real ID compliant license. Your local DMV now gathers more information about you than your mother knows and stores it nationally accessible to, well, not sure who, but a lot of people, at an estimated implementation cost of $23.1 billion. But we’re safer, right, can’t put a price on that. Actually, we will be safer. Though proposed in the smoldering ruins of 2004, delays and rolling implementation mean Real IDs were not required for domestic flights until October 2020, and full enforcement does not begin until May 2023. Until then, keep an eye on your masked seatmates.

     

    The best part of all is the last time anyone actually tested my ability to drive was in 1976, when I drove my mother’s car around the block and then parallel parked it to the satisfaction of an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper. In getting my new driver’s license in 2021, no one actually checked if I could safely do the actual thing the license was in place to allow me to do.
    I can almost hear the voice of the Twilight Zone guy, saying “And therein lies our cautionary tale. Rules proposed, let’s allow, in good faith often fail to accomplish that what they were originally intended to. Rather, they empower small bullies disguised as clerks and waiters who in the name of safety taunt us to provide bits of paper from the scavenger hunt of our lives to entertain them. But that’s the least of our troubles. They are but background players in a bigger game: governments collecting more and more information, placing restrictions without accurate explanation, claiming it is for our own good when clearly it is actually for their own good. We’ll check back in 20 years, to see how many of the Covid restrictions still apply here, at the DMV, or elsewhere… in the Twilight Zone.”

     

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Economy, Other Ideas