Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Symphony of the Road Warrior

I've been flying commercially for most of my life. Certainly for all of my professional life. I remember when there was not even such a thing as a smoking section on an airplane. The guy next to you would light up as soon as the no smoking light had been turned off.  That distinctive seat belt indicator tone would ding when altitude was reached and suddenly smoke signals would rise from various parts of the plane like camp fires at a cub scout jamboree.
Then came the "smoking" and "non smoking" sections. For a while they tried putting the sections on either side of the plane as if the aisle, not even big enough to walk comfortably, created any barrier to air borne particulates. Later they put the smokers in the back of the plane. This was based on the scientific fact that the air in the front part of a pressurized tin can is completely separate from the air at the back of the can. 
There were times when the only seat left on the only flight available was a center seat of a three person row in the dead middle of the smoking section. In those cases you might as well buy a pack of unfiltered Camels and puff away it wouldn't matter.
Of course if a smoker was faced with the same problem of having to sit in a non-smoking section it was not impossible. They could just excuse themselves to the back of the plane and lite up.  In some cases if the aisles were too crowded the bathroom offered privacy. For the next person who needed to pee in that same booth, it could become a jet powered gas chamber. 
Then of course in the 80's Northwest Airlines established the first smoke free plane. On stage I used to say the rule was not about clean air, but anti-terrorism. The tag line, "No terrorist would risk high-jacking a plane when he knew there was a bunch of smokers who hadn't had a cigarette in a couple of hours." 
Yesterday I flew back from the east coast. The no smoking indicator light has been replaced by "turn off your electronic devices" light. The moment we landed a cacophony of ring tones, alert messages, push notifications and start up sounds filled the plane like a looney tunes sound track. It appears to me there is a similarity to the old days. Like the smokers who had trouble going a couple of hours without a cigarette, in modern times it seems that people have a hard time going a couple of hours without checking their Face Book page. The only difference is after being around a bunch of habitual tweeters and Face Book up daters your jacket doesn't smell like you survived a Forrest fire. If they allow the use of cell phones on a plane  during the flight like they are contemplating, I will start demanding the airlines provide "tweeting" and non- tweeting sections. 
When will the Surgeon General announce that tweeting is causing secondary mind numbing to those near the tweeter?  There would be a warning label on the back of every smart phone that says, "The Surgeon General has determined that tweeting and Face booking can cause mind rot."  I can already see the affect it is having not only on a plane but in the car beside you.  There is nothing more frightening than glancing over at a car in the next lane of the Ventura Freeway going 70 miles an hour... noticing that the driver is laughing at the funny picture of a dog that someone just posted and shared on his iPhone.  I feel a little safer when I see the guy only has a burning Marlboro between his lips.  And while we're at it, can come hacker more skilled than me create a green light app?  Coordinating the GPS and traffic cameras it would notify the driver in front of me that the light has turned green and he should stop surfing YouTube and drive the frickin' car. 
The raving of a new generation of old man has changed from "you kids get off my lawn" to "you kids get off the smart phone and drive."
As you were,

1 comment:

Pete Biro said...

Many times here in Hollywood I've had to HONK to get a car in front of me to go after the green had come on while they were texting. Grrrrrrrrrrr.23 hreeksp