30,000 Feet

Four Gutsy Observations En Route from San Francisco to Atlanta

These won’t change the world, but I do hope they change your perspective on air travel and nudge you towards a more service-oriented life.

Observation #1 Good looking people like to travel.

There are more pretty eyes and strong jaws in the airport than anywhere else. My theory: if you have enough money to fly, you have enough money to take care of yourself. So the sample skews “well groomed.”

Pay attention and you will notice, if you haven’t already.

Observation #2 There will always be one dangerous looking person on your flight.

This is something my wife taught me through hushed tones and careful gestures, post 9/11.

Over there, by the drinking fountain, is a spaced-out looking guy with a beard and some army boots.

He is likely the last weirdo you will ever see.

YOU are that dangerous person if you take pictures of anything other than your children before the flight. It reminds people of death by fireball. For this reason, my selfie skews ugly which is not a good thing in an airport full of good looking people. I could only make one attempt, so no perfect angle to showcase the sparkle in my eye (oh, its there, trust me).

Observation #3 You will always be the last person on the plane.

Today I got to the airport early with a pre-printed boarding pass. I’m flying on an airline I use regularly.

They started picking us to board group by group, one by one, like the cruel process of choosing teams in neighborhood kickball. I was still standing there as my fellow passengers steadily joined their people on the plane: First Class, Platinum, Gold, Elite, Royal Flush, In Need of Special Help.

I’m none of those things, and as usual my face got red as the remaining misfits and I sized each other up. Its a club we never wanted to be members of. There is a small bird-like Filipino man who is jumpy and may be a stow away; a prisoner accompanied by an overweight air marshal; and a homely guy wearing a Sears Roebuck suit who has never flown before.

Folks we have a full flight and everyone who hasn’t boarded is going to have to check their carry-ons.

Observation #4 Don’t try to be funny.

Apparently, this airline thought we’d all be yukking it up, high-fiving and repeating their laugh lines after watching their new safety video. It features a ventriloquist and a dummy and a number of cartoon characters doing Laurel & Hardy type things while the stewardess explains how to use the buckle.

A guy in the back of the plane let out a couple of terrifying, shrill laughs. The rest of us are still cringing and in emotional pain, as if we’d witnessed our grandparents doing it “one last time.” The video is that bad.

The lesson is that you shouldn’t try to be something you are not. And you shouldn’t steal someone else’s schtick. Humorous safety-videos are the provenance of Virgin Air and their 70-something dynamo, feather-haired Steven Tyler.

A Final Perspective Before Landing:

I shared these thoughts with an elderly man next to me who is clearly a nervous flier. We are now holding hands and he is reminiscing about a time (Jazz Age?) when guys and gals had honor — or something along those lines. Listening to him ramble on with his old fashioned talk is like being in an episode of Boardwalk Empire on acid.

I’m concerned about his financial future and will be working with him as a guardian, confidant and power of attorney. The wonderful thing about air travel is that it opens doors, geographically, culturally and financially.

As a bonus for getting this far, you and I are making history together. This is the first story posted from a moving aircraft. Thank you, Medium, for your quick work confirming, especially Harold Kraft!

Please consider hitting Recommend if you enjoyed this story at all — even a passage or a phrase. That will encourage a part-time writer like me to keep writing.

Thank you!