Wait for it … wait for it … it’s my
favourite part of waiting to board my plane. My blood pressure rises in
righteous indignation, but I love it! It is the pre-boarding announcement. I
could almost rub my hands together with glee.
Now, I travel a lot for business so I
spend a lot of time at airport boarding gates. I settle down as much as one can
settle down in those monstrosities that pass for chairs. Scan left … scan right
… yup: same cast members every time. There are the nail-biters, comforting
themselves with reassuring reports of airline safety records, the kids, jazzed
up on sugar and excitement, the newlyweds, dripping honeyed kisses and bits of
But my favourites are the ones who
respond to the pre-boarding call. (I know, I know: how can you board the plane
before you board the plane? With apologies to George Carlin, we’ll let that one
go for the moment.) The pre-boarding announcement aims to herd all those
whining toddlers and limping grannies on board ahead of the rest of us. It
allows the flight attendants to assist with rounding up the acting-out little
ones and the slow-to-act old ones, and stuffing them into their seats so
they’re out of the way. Then the onslaught of those of us responding to
the general boarding call can assault the aisle, and each other, as we battle
over prime real estate holdings in the overhead bins.
However, inevitably … wait for it … wait
for it … there go the parents with their tiny little … teenagers! Are these people deaf? Are they stupid? I realize that
those intercom announcements can be garbled, but seriously? They and the gangly
six-foot creatures beside them do not
need pre-boarding assistance!
They aren’t juggling sippy cups and bouncy seats
and withered teething biscuits. There are no diaper bags or cute little
‘Grandma Loves Me’ T-shirts. Slouching gum-gnashing adolescents with
eco-friendly hydration devices and two-hundred-dollar airlift sneakers just
don’t qualify. Giant backpacks and Legalize Pot hoodies won’t cut it. These
people simply won’t be allowed to pre-board. At least, that’s what I used to
Now I just sit, with my mouth gaping, as
the kindly ladies and gentlemen at the boarding desk wave them onto the plane.
It’s at this point that my small portion of the universe becomes unhinged. How
dare these important airline employees allow these deceitful beings to flaunt the rules which the employees are meant to enforce?
simply cannot be allowed to continue! In the little world in my head, where
rules are meant to be followed, I would urge the airlines to hire me to oversee
the pre-boarding process. I’d sure as hell get it done with both a large dose
of efficiency and fairness. I will concede that I might be somewhat lacking in
the finesse department but, oh well, we can’t have it all now, can we?
I’d take only a moment to set my machine
gun on its tripod, aim it menacingly at any passengers who looked like
potential illegal pre-boarders, and smile sweetly as I made the announcement. I
think they’d get the point. For the first offence, a small rubber bullet, aimed
perhaps at some fleshy part of the anatomy, would probably get the message
across, while demonstrating kindness and leniency.
For those passengers demonstrating
diminished perceptions of subtlety, enhanced ammunition might need to be
brought into play. But once an internationally circulated pre-boarding list was
compiled, and the tripods were installed at each boarding gate, I’m fairly
certain the problem could be brought under control.
Those trustworthy souls who never
committed the crime could, for a small fee, apply for a speed pass. Why,
marketing professionals could create ad campaigns, urging upright citizens to
turn in neighbourhood offenders! Pre-boarding offender profiles could be
supplied to airline personnel at team-building workshops to assure front-line
compliance! Oh my, the possibilities are endless! And it would have all been MY
So the next time you consider jumping to
the head of the boarding line without the proper qualifications, just banish
the thought! Picture the gun, complete with official airline logo, mounted on
its matching tripod. Is it worth the risk just for a few more moments of
onboard togetherness with your teen? Well, seriously, is it?
Kathy Dupuis is an English teacher who decided to use some
retirement time to try to master the kind of writing assignments she used to
give to her students.
See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing
courses in Algonquin Park, Alton, Barrie, Bracebridge, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon,
Collingwood, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener,
London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa,
Peterborough, St. Catharines, St. John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto,
Windsor, Halton, Ingersoll, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York,
the GTA, Ontario and beyond.