Friendly skies and other oxymorons

“When sheep aren’t busy being bred or herded, they’re being slaughtered.” —Right Hook

You’ll forgive your never humble host, but I’ve reached a milestone of sorts. My sense of “Rightness” has reached a pinnacle this week, wherein I’m comfortable quoting myself now. Is that ego or just supreme confidence in myself?

This week’s Right Hook comes courtesy of the friendly skies. Which, lamentably, still aren’t very friendly.

I once wrote about air travel post-9/11, and I’d have thought it would have gotten better by now. Because of my own experiences, I’ve conscientiously and conspicuously avoided air travel, having been one of the multitudes that had the bad fortune to be out of state on that tragic day and have to travel immediately following it. My three traveling companions and I pooled our money and bought a vehicle to get home from Dallas, Texas. A 1994 Dodge minivan. Four days of unadulterated fun in the netherworld with two chain smokers. It was six months before I stopped hacking up my lungs from the second-hand smoke. Plain and simple, it hasn’t been easy on the airlines or their employees. United Airlines—my carrier at the moment—had its pension plan eviscerated by a bankruptcy court just so it could keep flying. (Of course, depending on your perspective, you see this as a tragedy for the employees who got hosed by that decision or as an example of what can happen when people aren’t responsible enough for their own futures by letting someone else handle their money.) Granted, United Airlines asked to be released from the pension obligations, but then again, what choice did it have, and how else would it have stayed in business?

When I consistently run into employees in both government and the private sector who are as about as engaged in their jobs as your average three-year-old, I have to question some things.

But then again, consider the little mandates from the Department of Homeland Insecurity as I passed through the Reno-Tahoe Airport. For example, everyone must remove their shoes because one lug nut tried to blow himself up with a shoe bomb. No more than three ounces of liquids or gel-type substances in carry-on baggage because another lug nut tried to smuggle an explosive gel bomb onto a plane. Of course, no one seems to recognize the fact that airports have become the land of facism because the Department is busy profiling stuff rather than the people who are carrying them. I mean, spending time and energy on 80-year-old grandmothers and 5-year-old kids seems to me a stretch.

Now, I like Reno. I like everything about it. One of the reasons I moved here was the pace and the fact that you could go anywhere in the valley in 20 minutes. (I miss those days.)

OK, maybe not everything. Only here could freeway on-ramps and off-ramps built for simultaneous use be considered an example of “good planning.” In other words, it is not unlike the phrase “safe sex"—they’re both oxymorons.

But I digress. You see, Right Hook, when he isn’t busy applying his talent in this Place, is busy cutting deals. Deals require creativity and thinking outside the proverbial box. So when I consistently run into examples of people who’ve managed to earn a living by making my life difficult, I get slightly annoyed.

I’ve come to the conclusion that some people, whatever their lot in life, cannot be helped. They are in fact, sheep.

Which perhaps brings me back to my aforementioned quote.