Wednesday, April 22, 2015

laughing in the peanut gallery

I love flying.

I think I took my first commercial flight in 1966 -- from Portland to Oklahoma City to look over a newly-opened university.  I chose not to attend.

But I did start a love affair with flying.  Even though I was 17, I remember wearing my best Sunday school suit with some sort of cutting edge tie.

The food was what airline food once was.  Nothing to write home about.  Unlike today where there is literally nothing to write home about.

What I did take home were tales of the thrill of takeoffs and landings, beautiful stewardesses, and the feeling of freedom to be soaring that high in the sky.  That flight and subsequent ones (along with the rush of the Army aviators in Tora, Tora, Tora fighting off the invading Zeroes) was enough to send me into the Air Force and flight training at Laredo in 1971.  And that gave birth to my affair with Mexico.

I thought about all of that today on my flights to Mexico City and Dallas.  Both were on Aeromexico.  If you have not flown on a Mexican airline recently, you are in for a great surprise.

The equipment is modern.  The interiors are kept spotless.  The flight attendants could moonlight in telenovelas.  And we were served the same type of box lunches you receive on first class Mexican buses.  (Not really very good.  But just like old-fashioned airline food.)  It is almost like joining James Darren in The Time Tunnel.

There was an added bonus.  The economy class seats were in a two and two configuration.  And, as luck would have it, this is who sat next to me.

No one.  It was like winning the travel lottery.  I could stretch out or use the empty seat as a desk.  I did both.

What jolted me into this reverie is pictured at the top of this essay.  The flight attendant handed me a bag of peanuts.  Peanuts.  And no one became hysterical that someone three flights later might touch a tray table, get dizzy, and sue the airline into bankruptcy.

Because we are in Mexico.  People actually take responsibility for their own well-being -- and very few people are searching for the next permutation of victimhood.  That is only one reason I love it there.

I say "there" because I am now in Dallas on an overnight lay-over for an early morning flight to Shanghai.  Rather than stay downtown, I decided to conserve my travel time in the morning by booking into the Hyatt at the airport.  The sound of flights coming and going will be my white noise.

Here is my room.

Not much character.  I could just as easily be in a business hotel in Kenya -- or Singapore.

But the hotel knows its customer service.  While signing in, the clerk handed me a bottle of cold water.  Just what I needed after the brief trek to the hotel.

And the bed?  Perfect.  I usually do not sleep well until I have slept in the same bed for at least three days.  I suspect tonight (because I am writing this just before I go to bed) will be one of those exceptions.

With a sixteen hour flight in front of me, I can use the rest.

My next essay should come from Shanghai.  We will see if Steve's freedom machine works -- or if the leaders of the police state manage to keep me from talking with you liberty-loving folk.

If nothing else, you should hear from me when I board the ship on Sunday.

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