It's an hour of your life down the pan. Nothing beneficial is achieved.
Unless you're the appallingly smug type who arrives with a book and a meal, this descent into the void is a lost, vapid time. Much displeasure is incubated in this hiatus, but until now, no one has been able to bring scientific method to an analysis of why this period is so enervating.
Stuck at 7 a.m. in Toronto's Pearson Airport one day, I was able to conduct the necessary research, and I identified a number of factors, each of which, individually, is a mere irritant; taken cumulatively, however, they lead to the desire never to fly again. Insurance people, to whom none of the following applies (obviously), have important traveling work to do and these irritants cut into their efficiency. Much remains to be done in prioritizing the awfulness of these factors, but here, in no particular order, are just a few of them:
-- Baseball hats, worn backward or forward. Or any hat. You're indoors, take your hat off.
-- Lozenge-shaped glasses. Not hip; wanky.
-- Square-toed shoes, unless you have square toes. All brown shoes and sneakers too, but I hardly need to say that.
-- People using any kind of computer equipment, cell phones, iPads, Kindles, Schmindles or anything else that needs power. Buy a newspaper. What's wrong with you?
-- Carry-on bags larger than the law permits. There are other people on the plane. Other people--heard of them?
-- Short-sleeved shirts (for men); always wrong. Also, shirts so tight that the chest buttons are stretched to bursting point. Ecch.
-- That smug look on pilots' faces and the bored look sported by other air crew members. You're drivers and waiters, not rock stars. Get over yourselves.
-- Guys toting shoulder bags who hold the bag-bearing shoulder higher than the other shoulder.
-- Flip-flops. Keep your near naked feet to yourself, even if you are the one in 500 who washes them every now and then.
-- Sunglasses worn above the eyebrows, unless your eyes are up there too. You're not Princess Grace; you're some schlub from Cleveland.
-- Those poofy little ankle socks that some sneaker wearers sport. Why do you think God made knee socks?
-- Taking photographs of loved ones, aircraft or anything else, unless you're Ansel Adams.
-- Sneezing, especially in August. How dare you even think about flying?
By now, you're probably thinking "Oooh, that Roger. How dare he give us his personal opinions? I like wearing short-sleeved shirts with the chest buttons stressed, flip-flops and sunglasses at the top of my head, and I'm completely cool."
My opinion is that you're not needed on this or any journey. You are an affront to the rest of us.
It's unforgivably selfish. Stop it at once.
ROGER CROMBIE is a London-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®.
October 15, 2010
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