Friday, March 02, 2007


People say I’m crazy because I’d rather drive to California than fly there. I mean, people say I’m crazy for a lot of reasons, but that is one of them. Sure, you can get there faster by air, but if I need to be in San Francisco that soon, I’ll leave three days earlier. Capice?

It’s not so much a fear of flying. Not even a fear of crashing, really. It’s more the fact that I can’t stand being out of control. To understand how out of control one is as a passenger on an airliner, all one has to do is peruse the recent situation in New York where passengers were held captive on one, sitting still on a frozen runway, for ten hours. No, not held captive by terrorists – in the classic sense. Held captive by the Airline. Did I mention it was ten hours?

What could you do in ten hours? You could watch 1200 annoying TV commercials. Twenty episodes of “That 70’s Show”. You could drive from Batesville to Little Rock, and back, three times, then watch the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. Unless you’re John Weaver or Larry Price, in which case you could do the Little Rock trip four times. You could play one of those marathon Monopoly games like you did when you were a kid. You could bounce about 36,000 times on a pogo stick. Get your oil changed 60 times. Have 20 pizzas delivered, one at a time. You could fight 1/14th of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. You could walk to Newport. What you’d do when you got there, who knows? But you could walk there. Or, I suppose, if you didn’t lose your way, you could walk back from there. As I recall, that might be a better idea.

One thing I’m pretty sure you couldn’t do, without the aid of the Chicago Bears’ defensive line, and/or an automatic weapon or two, is keep me on that plane for 10 hours. I can practically guarantee you that, between the 2nd & 3rd hours, ol’ Unkel Rick would have been escorted from that grounded flying machine to a nice roomy airport holding cell somewhere.

What I can’t understand is what force kept those passengers – among the screaming kids; not even allowed to watch the “in-flight” movies without paying for them; only pretzels to eat (while they lasted), and completely out of anything to drink – from rising up and slaying those who imprisoned them? Are people so regimented to goose-stepping that they don’t even recognize there is a time and place for getting out of line and saying “No thanks. I think I’ll go this way.”? Are we sheep? Naaaaaaaa!

Try locking your doors and telling the Jehovah’s Witness lady she’s not going to be able to leave until you decide it’s time for her to go. You know what they call that? False imprisonment! You think any court would convict her for knocking you in the head with a big stack of “Watchtowers” and bolting? Not on your life buddy! Next thing you knew, you’d be getting TV-trashed by Nancy Grace, and Larry King & the Jehovah’s Witness lady would be taking calls from Trenton, New Jersey about whether or not her book will be available on audio CD. You’d be joining the ranks of Scott Peterson and the Diapered Astronaut Lady and those cops who beat up Rodney King.

You just can’t do that. You can’t hold somebody against their will. Even High School kids in detention, if they wanted to pay the consequences, could just get up and walk out.

So, do you think that’s it? Do you think those folks could have walked out of that plane, but just figured it was safer to sit there than take their chances walking all the way back to the terminal in a blizzard?

OK then. I can buy that. But, if it was me, they might still be out there in the snow, digging for the man who taught the children some new words before being asked to step out of the plane for some fresh air.

© 2007 Rick Baber