Flying the evil skies
Dazed and Amused
Whether one is a stand-up comic or a humorist, there comes a time in every aspiring funny person's life when he/she must face the greatest fear of all: Lack of material. When the humor font runs dry, Temptation Island: Notre Dame Style won't turn itself into a column and even monkeys don't seem funny anymore, the humorist has three options; suicide, heavy drug use and airline humor. I took the road most traveled by and it has allowed me to meet my deadline.
What draws hack comics and columnists alike to airline humor is, of course, humanity's mutual hatred for the entire airline industry. Love and respect will never unite us, but we can all agree that the airline industry exists to screw us over and next to Core, is probably humankind's most evil creation. As we all know, those in Dante's lowest level of Hell must spend eternity in a Core class in an airport where every flight out is perpetually delayed.
Most students here never have to take Core (in this life anyway), but many of us have no choice but to fly home for breaks. Now occasionally, when all the planets are aligned, the weather is great and no one is on strike, you can fly home uneventfully. This happens about as often as George W. Bush utters a coherent sentence. (For those keeping score at home, that's five columns and four Bush jokes.)
The rest of the time, something odd inevitably happens to keep you from getting home: The flight attendants are late, there is some mechanical problem or wild cheetahs have invaded the terminal. All this trouble is compounded by the fact that the only way to fly out of South Bend is on a two-passenger propeller plane powered by anemic gerbils. However, my most excruciating flying experience was not going home, but coming back from spring break last year.
Out of respect for the airline, I won't mention it by name, but simply call my story TWA is the Devil.
The trouble began immediately after boarding. The captain announced that the fuel receipt was missing. Apparently attached to this receipt was the key to the plane because it was impossible to take off without it. So faced with the option of spending the next 30 to 40 minutes between a 300 pound man with a screaming baby and a woman reading Chicken Soup for the Serial Killer's Soul, I decided to get up and walk around. Having determined that the closest exit was in fact behind me, I went to harass the first class passengers. I always enjoy doing this because the first class passenger's biggest fear, besides getting a flat tire on his/her Cadillac SUV, is the coach passenger. Just the thought that we might brush up against them while boarding chills them to the core of their soul-less beings (While boarding I always try to sneeze excessively and repeat the phrase, "I's on the flying machine now!" as much as possible). Unfortunately, because of a certain flight attendant's diligent effort to keep the classes apart, I was able to yell, "I am the boogie man!" at only one snotty old woman before being escorted back to coach.
Finally, someone found the fuel receipt and we took off. Realizing I would probably miss my connection, I decided to find happiness in food, consuming roughly 18 Bistro Bags. But, lo and behold, we arrived in St. Louis a little earlier than expected and I thought I could make my South Bend flight if I ran. However, TWA had strategically placed my gate about 3.5 miles away, as a part of their assiduous effort to ruin my life. As it turns out, I never really had a chance since they had already given my seat away long before. You see for the 80 seat plane, TWA had sold 53,060 tickets. Angry, tired and distressed, I had a brief conversation with the woman at the counter.
Me: Is the plane still here?
Random TWA minion on whom I choose to blame all my problems: The plane is still here but the flight is full.
Me (waving my boarding pass frantically): But I have a ticket.
TWA woman: Yes, but we're overbooked.
Me: But if I pay for a ticket, shouldn't I expect to get a seat?
TWA woman: In a perfect world maybe.
Me: I am the boogie man!
TWA woman: Oh, like I've never heard that one before.
After speaking to several other annoying airline people, I flew to Chicago and took a bus to South Bend. I went to the TWA counter looking for my luggage and was taken to a room filled with about a hundred bags and Jimmy Hoffa. To my surprise, my bag was actually there. I took a cab back and got to my dorm sometime during finals week.
And so it goes. TWA may be on its way out, but there are others out there waiting to take our money and our souls. For those airlines, I have just one thing to say — I am the boogie man!
Amy Schill is a sophomore Arts and Letters major. Her column appears every other Thursday.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Viewpoint Stories for Thursday, February 22, 2001