Friday, March 9, 2007

meet me in St. Louis, if I make it...

My tour of mediocre American cities is in its final stretch run, as I left Phoenix today. But let us not forget how the whole trip started, a happy 6am flight a few days back to North Carolina. In many ways the gloriousness of your travels are represented by your mode of transportation. In the olden days travelers to Americas had gigormous cruise ships. Real ships. Ships that said, "Screw Manchester, we're heading for New York."

Nowadays international trips tend to be flights on 747's. While many of them give you the experience of feeling like tuna, their sheer size says "This ain't not dog and pony show, even though many of the Indian passengers are smuggling livestock and illegal fruits, vegetables, and chutney mixes in their baggage." The planes give you a feeling that you need a lot of fuel because you're heading somewhere exotic. Perhaps the modern India that you know or love OR perhaps the vision of India portrayed in old movies on AMC where it's an exotic-jungle-living-tiger-hunting-land filled with locals who really are just wearing brown makeup.

Whoa. Where did that come from?

In contrast to those majestic vessels of transport, my flight to the upper Carolina was on a Continental Express flight, specifically an Embraer mini commuter plane.

Why resort to planes made by Boeing or Airbus when you can resort to the quality of Brazilian aeronautics? The Embraer is the mini plane of choice for Continental. But to be on one, to reintroduce the theme I brought up earlier, means a whole slew of bad fact patterns is or has taken place.

First of all you only are on these planes if you're heading for bumblefuck somewhere. Cleveland for example, is a common target. So clearly the destination is slightly...um...lacking. Also normal humans cannot fit on these planes. It's the equivalent of taking a Mini Cooper and stapling wings onto it and asking non-Smurfs to pile in. In the case of my journeys on Wednesday, amidst a backdrop of a snowy 13 degree morning in NY, lemme just say that the Embraer isn't exactly at the top of the list as the most safest things I'd wanna be on. Being a drunk while stuck in a bull riding competition would actually rank higher

...Let me put it another way; allow me to tell you an anecdote (that's right, I just used an semicolon in this sentence, and while I'm not 100% sure that that was the right use of it, I do know that if you use it with confidence, no one will question you, much like getting into clubs and using the "First Class Only" security line at the airport). This is a story which takes place last Wednesday morning, at Newark Airport. If this anecdote is sounding a lot less like a hypothetical scenario and a lot more like my real life events, you've just scored 7 Reader Points. As I was staring out my snow filled window while parked at the gate, wondering if our flight would ever take off, I heard the rather ominous alert from our flight attendant "Excuse me, but our flight has a slight weight imbalance, will some of the passengers in rows 1 through 6 please kindly move to the back row of the plane so that the plane can take off...Thank you!"

...There are times in life when you just suck up the pain, don't complain, and go with the flow. These times include road trips when you decide to skip the extra rest stop and forget about your hunger for the sake of making good time to your destination....but then there are times when no matter how old you are you just wanna cry and go home. After hearing that announcement I wanted to cry and go home. The problem is that even if I wanted to sprint off the plane before the doors closed I wouldn't have made it because I probably would've smashed my head against the ceiling the moment I stood up and then broken my neck after being tripped by my bag that was jammed in the seat in front of me because there was no overhead bin.

In fact in the whole event the irony of the fact that a flight attendant 4 times the size of most 1930s era German Panzer tanks was making an announcement about weight problems was not lost upon me. In my estimation as long as she moved to the back and did not stray above row 8 we would be in good shape. While this would mean no in-flight service for half the plane, it's a sacrifice I think we'd just have to take. Also, to be fair, I was in row #7, so I would be giving up service too.

At this point a lot of our slower readers will ask, "Hey Shakes, did you live? Did you make it?"
Yes I did Skippy, yes I did.

And with that I bid you adieu from downtown St. Louis. Good night and good luck.

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