Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The ninth circle

In case anybody noticed that I didn't post yesterday, it's because I was travelling to Richmond for a conference, and I expected to post after I got here. Foolish naivete.

What I mean to say is, I spent the day travelling, which is to say I spent the day in hell. My flight was only 2 hours late out of Providence, which means that according to the schedule I would miss my connecting flight but I wasn't worried, indeed my biggest problem was killing time in Philly. Philadelphia airport was a river of human misery, with the soundtrack provided by screaming, inconsolable babies. The people were sullen, exhausted, hungry, unhygenic, but their anger was buried in helplessness and apathy. Some stared vacantly like concentration camp survivors.

They always lie, of course, about when the planes are leaving. If they post a flight as half an hour late, you know that means at least 90 minutes. Then they pack the steel cocoons like slave ships, and then they just leave you there. In this case, the machine that loads bags into the cargo hold got stuck, and it took them an hour to figure out how to get it out of the way so they could close the cargo door. Once we finally did get to Richmond, we circled the city for 45 minutes, and when we finally landed, we had to sit there for half an hour until they got another plane away from the gate. Of course there were six open gates, but they couldn't use them, because we were assigned to one that was occupied.

The airline industry is the only industry, as far as I know, whose employees' attitude toward customers ranges from callous indifference through hostility to gleeful sadism. They actually hate us. We're a problem for them, and nothing more.

I could easily have driven from Boston to Richmond in the time it took me to fly. Next time, I will.