Sunday, May 29, 2016

“Airport Angst,” Kathy Dupuis

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 confetti.

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 think.

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? 

This 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 idea!

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.

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