Modern aviation wrecks a good time

by Jack Sawyers

With spring break fast approaching, the hearts and minds of Simpson College students are inextricably locked on one key question.

How on earth am I going to fit this ass into that Speedo?

Okay, so maybe it’s just me.

Actually, most of us are too focused on the classwork and learning that is to come in the next four weeks to actually be concerned at all about what we will be doing with our week off.

Man, do I need some new material. The irony bit is wearing a little too thin even for my taste. The buck stops here.

The truth is that many of us will be traveling to some beach somewhere for our own little f-off to Punxsutawney Phil and his six more weeks of winter. For many of us, this will mean air travel. And by air travel, I mean the most inconvenient, stressful day of our natural lives.

I didn’t always feel this way about the aviation industry, though.

No, there was a time – about two weeks ago – when I held the fine men and women of the sky charter system in the same esteemed position as foreign cab drivers and breakfast cereal.

Then my world just flipped, turned upside down. I’d like to take a minute, so just sit right there – something, something, something, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

In all fairness though, I should start where the actual trip began, at airport insecurity. In our modern world, this is a procedure roughly on par with a root canal or cold-water colonic.

The fine folks at Des Moines International (which, coincidentally, does not actually have any international flights, ever) assured me that this would set the tone for my entire experience when they corralled me for a “thorough” search.

Thank God they stopped short of the rubber glove treatment.

Apparently, to qualify for this random search, one must pose an apparent threat to the security of their fellow travelers.

This means that they are either, A: Caucasian male college students, or B: elderly.

Seriously, I think Omar Khadafi slipped by right ahead of me without even turning a head. Fortunately for him, he isn’t that old.

Once I had been found to not, in fact, be in possession of any weapons of mass destruction, it was time for the real fun to begin.

That was, of course, following an hour-long grounding of the aircraft due to chipmunks on the runway at Chicago O’Hare.

Okay, they never actually came out and said chipmunks, but considering they never actually came out and said anything, I think my guess is as good as any.

After our hiatus, and once the interior of the plane had reached a temperature sufficient to boil my complimentary 7-Up straight out of the can, we took off into the wild blue yonder.

Shortly after doing so, the pilot informed us of impending doom in the form of “a little turbulence.”

In case you’ve never flown before, “a little turbulence” is generally about as much an understatement as calling Pfeiffer’s mess “a little bad.” Picture the Tilt-a-Whirl on crack.

As if the “little turbulence” wasn’t bad enough, however, someone chose this particular moment to release a cloud of carnival perfume for everyone to enjoy.

This led to wild speculation among our doomed lot of 40 as to who exactly smuggled a dead animal onto the plane.

Initially, I tried to search by looking for the person who was red-faced with embarrassment. Unfortunately, this lasted about as long as it took me to realize everyone was red from holding their breath. Everyone, that is, except for the few lucky ones who had already managed to pass out or those brave few who were clawing their oxygen masks from the overhead compartments.

Some of them never made it out, poor souls.

Luckily for all of us, the flight to O’Hare was only 45 minutes long, and we were liberated by the thump-and-bump of another washboard landing.

We all breathed (once we were on the tarmac, of course) a collective sigh of relief and parted ways with the inborn understanding that we would absolutely, positively, be taking the train home.