We are so narrow-minded. We are so entrenched in concepts, ideas, scoops thrown at us, that we’re confining our judgement to the most visible part of the spectrum. We neglect the ultra violet and infrared of today’s realities.
Most, if not all the misconceptions we have are based on purely judgmental facts that we proudly synthesized from what we’re told, or what we prefer to call “what we read”. I want to discuss one of those facts. Travel.
Travel since the late fifties, early sixties, was the most beautiful experience one could have. The glamour, and the associated exotic emotions. The adventure, the wardrobe. The destination, and most of all, the journey.
Think about one of your earliest trips. Fine, you have got to be at least 45 years old or above for this experiment to work. See? Age does have its benefits sometimes! In fact, those of you who have not been on an airline trip during the sixties or early seventies, have definitely not experienced the true journey. So, for those of you who did experience it, try to teleport yourself back there.
The anticipation, the careless packing where anything can go in your luggage including your carry-ons. The dressing up, mom in her best skirt and silk top, stilettos, eventually her mink. Dad in his Sunday suit and tie. The drive to the airport, the check-in, the café or lounge overlooking the runway. The wide open balconies where you could stroll sipping your minted lemonade and watch people boarding aircraft, greeted at the top of the stairs by heavenly looking hostesses; passenger buses crisscrossing, planes taking off…
The call to board, the bus driving you to the aircraft, the welcome you personally witness this time… Aaaaah! The good old days.
This was the real journey, your trip started the minute you woke up on the morning of your travel. The destination was the culmination undeniably, but the journey? Priceless.
Then came the nineties.
You wake up seven hours ahead, not because of the thrill, but because you have to “plan” your luggage-packing. There should be a clear pre-planned strategy for that; underwear goes in the bottom, your acne cream, bleaching lotion, and aftershave on top. You need to also carefully plan what goes in your carry-on luggage. This means, you have to smell like a bull, feel like a hairy Neanderthal, and wear what makes you look like a New York tramp if you want to escape a full body search (This is not by any mean a guarantee you won’t get frisked!).
So your carry-on luggage will initially contain your laptop and a book that is written in the favor of the country you’re traveling to… if you really want to escape a full body search. That’s about it for your carry-ons. Well, you could take some chewing gum, there’s nothing more inviting than the smell of a full day worth of sweat mixed with the breezy scent of a minted breath…
You have to be at the airport three hours ahead of the actual takeoff, I insist, the “actual” takeoff. If you want to take the risk of coming three hours before the “scheduled” take off, you’d better pack pajamas, a lot of reading, and all the patience in your mood savings account. You’re in for a long… long… long wait. In the latest statistics, 67% of Air France flights for example are always late by 45 minutes or more.
So you get there three hours ahead of time. You go to check-in. You get an avant-taste of how your aircraft will smell from the contact with the check-in staff which include porters rubbing their hairy arms against you. The staff seems to still be taking courtesy courses at the local kindergarten.
You get females in the middle of their PMS, others at the early stage of their menopause and males who are dripping testosterone… all over what’s left of your patience. They are all still trying to figure out who’s the client of who! It’s like the homosexual and transvestite who spent the night wondering who’s gonna do what to who, and how!!
You get your boarding pass at the total opposite side of your moon. You want window, you get aisle. You want frontmost seat of your cabin class, you get cargo. You want a simple smile, and all you get is that “Can-you-just-f**k-off-and-let-the-next-flying-baboon-in” look. “Next!”
You go through passport check, and then… you get to Dante’s Hell; to the place that makes you think God chose to gather all gays, perverts, voyeurs and fetishists. Security.
In dictionaries, “Security” is described as “The state of being free from danger or threat”. Riddle this! I get to security and I feel danger oozing from every x-ray, and threat discharging from every staff’s eyes… and blue-rubber gloves covered fingers! I mean really!!
But hey, that’s not their fault. No one at the airport or airlines did or does anything wrong! They’re doing their job… Well, give or take a couple of smelly porters… Unless they are considered “chemical deterrents”!
Terrorism. This is the real culprit. This is the real terror!
Terror is when you have to live your life haunted by the idea that you are the one treated like a terrorist while the real terrorist is watching you going through the horrifying experience.
Terror is when you know it will never end. When you know it will get worse.
©2011 Ibrahim N. Lahoud