I was reminded again this week of one of the thousands of reasons I no longer fly. I’m not afraid of flying itself, just the people. The news has been filled with the story of a man with a very resistant strain of tuberculosis flying on an International flight from Paris to the US. He potentially infected everyone on the flight. Although the possibility of contracting tuberculosis from this individual is low, it is not zero. The man is now in quarantine in a hospital in Atlanta.
Virtually every time I fly, I develop a URI that incapacitates me for a couple of weeks. I figure I am exposed to one of the millions of cold viruses from another part of the world for which I have no immunity. I can count of being sick after a trip when I use the airlines as the mode of travel. The airplanes are giant petri dishes and we are all seated uncomfortably in a big culture media with thousands of microbes floating around and recirculating to make sure we are infected.
Even the AIDS epidemic in the US can be traced back to the airlines. It wasn’t spread by the respiratory route, but by a promiscuous homosexual airline attendant with multiple partners. Infectious diseases have accounted for more deaths than all the wars. The Anglo settlers who came to this continent brought every germ possible to the new world and decimated the Indian population. There was estimated to be between 20 and 30 millions Indians on the North American continent when the pilgrims landed and by the mid 1800’s there was less than a million. Most of them died not from gunshot wounds but from things like smallpox, measles and other infectious diseases. The only thing that the Indians gave the Europeans and Spanish was syphilis. Syphilis was here waiting for the settlers and was the real Montezuma’s revenge. With the airlines, we can now transport these infectious agents much more rapidly than our ancestors and have the opportunity to reduce the population to nothing in a matter of days.
Besides the potential of infection there are a million other reasons I no longer fly. At the top of the list is inconvenience. As an ostomy patient I even have trouble taking my little kit of supplies on board because it contains a wash solution. Every time I board a plane I am reminded of the Jews being loaded on the box-cars in route to a death camp. After aboard, the seating is uncomfortable and someone in front always reclines their chair into my lap. If you are unlucky enough to get a window or middle seat you must crawl over someone to take a restroom break. Fighting for an overhead storage bin is another challenge and you are fortunate if you don’t get knocked in the head by swinging luggage.
Years ago folks dressed nicely to fly. It was almost like going to church used to be. Even church has now deteriorated with the dress code. On the airline people are wearing muscles shirts, ragged jeans and sneakers. They smell as bad as their clothes look.
The airlines, at one time, severed a fairly delicious meal. This changed to food with the appearance and taste of plastic. I felt like I was eating my grandkids toy food they love to serve when playing house. The food no longer exist, thank God for that.
To top it off, the luggage problem is worth writing a book about. I once had a piece of luggage, with some nice cloths, lost forever on a flight to San Diego. That’s when I started packing less valuable and unattractive clothes. I would mark my suitcase all over to aid in identification. My luggage still rarely arrived on time and would fly around the world before reaching home. One time, I found the bags had gone through customs and someone had plundered through everything. I could always count on a luggage problem if I had to change flights. I started taking only direct flights, which limited my travel possibilities.
9/11 finally finished me off. Half the people on the plane look like terrorist and many probably are and just looking for the right opportunity to blow everyone up. Grandmothers are stopped for a strip search while Osama bin Laden marches on through with Jesse Jackson protected by the immunity of racial profiling. The pain of going through security is enough to dissuade even the most stouthearted.
From now on I’m content to stay home in my comfortable recliner and watch Smart Travel on HDTV. That’s really better than being in the dirty places anyway. HD really brightens and cleans everything up and I avoid getting tuberculosis or even a bad URI and dismemberment from an explosion in midair.