Flying. I love it, I always have. Having grown up in the industry, my appreciation for the mechanics, people, and privilege of boarding an airplane are ingrained.
I don't bitch at security when the line is long, the machine wants a better look at my cellulite, or the TSA agent wants to feel up my body and hair - all of which happened on the way back from Savannah this past Saturday.
You smile, let them do their job, and get on with your travels. (I am not scarred for having allowed the female agent to run her rubber gloved hand down my body or fiddle with my ponytail.)
Now, as much as I still enjoy flying, I admit it is not quite the genteel process it was when I began in my youth.
Back then, service was white gloved, flight attendants were perfectly coiffed, a required height and weight, and wore required make-up colors. They were friendly, almost Stepfordian in behavior.
These days, they can be surly, come in every shape, size, etc. They are underpaid, unappreciated, and most often, exhausted.
Back then, passengers dressed up for air travel.
These days, it seems it is all most people can do to roll out of bed and throw on the closest flip flops.
Back then, common courtesy ruled. People were polite, did not subject the entire aircraft to their tuna salad and hard boiled eggs. As my mom would say, "they were raised right."
She's not far off the mark with that statement. Call me classist, but back then, flying was a tad cost prohibitive so not every Tom, Dick, and Harry could afford to do it. Once the prices came down, that opened the can of much larger number of worms - many of them who had/have very little travel/public experience, nonexistent manners, and no sense of propriety.
Stick up my ass? Hardly. If you don't know how to comport yourself in public, stay in private.
Back then you could smoke on airplanes. Smoking and nonsmoking sections were the rule, like that made any difference. Sorry, but your cigarette smoke can't read and is pretty adept at movement.
Nowadays, smoking is prohibited, as it should be. Your addiction is your problem and if you cannot go without a cigarette for the duration? Drive.
One thing that has not changed through the decades is a certain kind of passenger: the baby/toddler.
Rare is the flight that does not find at least one lap child. Sometimes they sleep through the flight. Sometimes they need played with, walked, bounced. And sometimes, they cry. They just do.
That's when the bigger babies - the adults - shit their pants.
Personally, I do not cringe when a baby or toddler boards with their parent. I don't say three Hail Marys and an Our Father that they don't sit near me. Hell, I WISH they sit by me.
Because I. DON'T. CARE.
If they cry, my life is not ruined. I don't think I deserve my ticket refunded if an infant fills their diaper. It's not the end of the world.
Would that more people thought that way.
Meet Asshat O' The Day, Joe Rickey Hundley of Hayden, Idaho. A man who could screw a Cheerio and not break it.
Joe is an asshole. No pretty way to put it. He is what he is. ASS. HOLE.
On a flight into Atlanta this past weekend, a 19 month old in his row began to cry on descent. THEY. DO. THAT.
Hell, on descent into Savannah last week Carson was about to cry - fighting a cold that had her all clogged up, her ears were killing her and she is 16.
The mother did what she could to mitigate the crying and comfort her child.
Joe did what he could to help the situation. If "help" is defined as "acting like a shit-for-brains racist douchebag with the charm of a dung beetle."
He hollered at the mother, "shut that n*gger baby up."
Well, stunningly a racial epithet did not make the child stop crying.
So he slapped the 19 month old across the face.
Yeah, let that sink in.
You are sitting with your baby who is in obvious distress and some shitbag hollers at you and throws in the N word for good measure. Then the same bag of ass droppings HITS YOUR CHILD.
And we're not talking some Confederate flag wearing Jethro who should never have been allowed off the farm. No, Joe is an exectutive for an aerospace company.
Sorry, WAS an executive for an aerospace company. AGC Aerospace and Defense, Composites Group, unpon learning of his crime and investigating the incident, slapped him with a pink slip.
Fellow passengers did intervene to subdue Joe - who, according to the mother was drinking a lot - and he has been charged with simple assault, punishable by up to a year in jail.
Of course, his attorney has already stated he will plead not guilty. Like the passengers in that row did not see what took place.
That's ok, Joey. When your ass is sent to jail, I am sure the inmates will be happy to act like certain things aren't happening to you either.
But take heart, I'm sure you'll earn plenty of Frequent Crier miles.
I'm not a fan of country music. If it crosses over and is catchy, sure, I'll listen. But none of my Sirius presets will take you to railroad-denim-drinking-twang talkin'-rabble rousin' song channels.
So, I have never heard a song by Mindy McCready.
From a pop culture standpoint, yes, I had heard of her. Most recently when her boyfriend killed himself (January 13). A suicide touching the life of a celebrity - that kind of thing makes pretty big news. From the periphery I saw the many stories about her own battles with addiction and depression and past suicide attempts.
All sad, and admittedly, all hard to relate to.
When you are not depressed, not addicted to drugs or alcohol - it is difficult to understand a person's choice to simply exit. Especially when that person seemingly has so much to be living for.
In McCready's case, yes, her celebrity. But most importantly, two small children who now have no mother. (The boyfriend who committed suicide was the father of the youngest child.)
Court documents show the tragic and progressive slide towards this ending. Earlier this month her sons were removed by authorities when her father stated in court documents, "Since boyfriend (David Wilson) shot himself she has been in bed for 3 wks. Sleeps all day. Drinks all night and is taking Rx drugs. Not bathing or even helping take care of her 2 children."
Again, tragic. And the kneejerk reaction normal thinking parents would have is anger at her, what reads on the surface, self indulgent, neglectful behavior. I admit that my first reaction yesterday was to be pissed off at her for not focusing on the beautiful lives she had brought into this world, instead choosing self pity and selfishness.
Sadly, it is so much more than that.
With past suicide attempts, orders into mental health counseling and rehab, and the recent loss of the man she called her "soulmate," it moves into territory that is simply hard to comprehend.
I am not depressed. I am not addicted. I am not struggling with the loss of my soulmate. I am not fighting inner demons for control of my psyche. So I simply don't know the pull, the blackness, what must be unending pain.
In the past two years two young people in our lives have left us by choice. Two young people with brilliant, bright, shining futures ahead of them. Two young people loved by all those who knew them. Two young people who were struggling with feelings so profound and overwhelming that in their worst moment they felt leaving was their best option.
It is heartbreaking. It is confounding. And again, it is unfathomable to those of us who walk through life clearheaded, not anchored by darkness. We ask, in the wake of these types of losses, what could possibly have been so bad that THIS was the better option?
We can surmise from evidence, anecdote. We can rend our garments in grief. Toss and turn in the still of night as guilt and what ifs cover us like a heavy, suffocating blanket.
We will not get any closer to knowing with certainty just what was in their compromised, beleaguered, depressed, panicked, surrendering minds in THAT moment.
Only one thing is certain in McCready's case - she has become the stuff of a country song. All of the love, pain, remorse, and loss.
Rest in peace.
There was darkness, all around me There were times I was sure I was drowning There were people, who tried to reach me But no matter how they loved me, I kept sinking
A week ago, while out of town, I was contacted and told about the death of one of Carson's favorite trainers in her club.
It seemed only fitting to be sitting on a soccer sideline when I got the call.
Last night, we attended the memorial service for Coach Murray. There was laughter, there were tears, there was the spontaneous and heartbreaking sharing of memories as one by one, parents, fellow trainers, and players as young as 11 and 12 made their way to the front to share a special remembrance, relate what Murray meant to them.
As any parent with a child in club sports can attest, trainers are many, personalities are varied, levels of integrity run the gamut, some are wonderful and leave a positive mark on your child as they push them and support them at the same time, and then some are simply overgrown jocks and self important pricks who seem to have lost sight of the true meaning in their jobs - the kids.
He was a lovely man. A decent man. A NICE man. A man who, like Carson, "eats life with the big spoon."
The pastor read the poem The Dash during the service. Written by Linda Ellis, I had heard it before long ago, but last night, in hearing it again, it struck something deep inside. Maybe it's because Murray was only 3 years older than I am. Maybe I am at a point in my own life where I have seen enough death now to have lost the capricious and blissfully ignorant bravado of youth.
Whatever the reason, it hit home. And since the reading I have done little else but contemplate my own dash. None of us know how long our dash will be, so make the most of it. For even if the dash is short in length, the depth can be immeasurable.
Murray's was full. How about yours?
Rest in peace, Coach Murray, and thank you for including our daughter in your dash.
by Linda Ellis copyright 1996
I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on her tombstone, from the beginning…to the end.
He noted that first came the date of her birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth. And now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own, the cars…the house…the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.
So, think about this long and hard. Are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left that can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough to consider what’s true and real and always try to understand the way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile, remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash… would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent YOUR dash?