Thursday, December 30, 2010
The Christmas Commute
They're in the subway stations, blocking exits. They're on the trains, yelling in your ears. And they're on the streets, causing roadblocks. And yet, as Mr. Bennett would say, I am unmoved. Whether it's Catholic propaganda or weird religious cult propaganda or just crazy people propaganda, you're not gonna sell me on it. I don't know what it is about opening a new calendar that scares the crap out of these people, but they are convinced that the world will end when that clock strikes midnight, and that judgement day is upon us. I've got news for ya, pal: I'm already judging you. And I'm mentally hosing you down the sidewalk ahead of me to clear myself a path between the already superfluous tourists.
Fortunately for me, I usually manage to get out of the city for Christmas. Florida, for the most part, is cool and calm and I have no need to fear being trapped in an enclosed space with a scary preacherman. But the airports are another thing. For one, when you travel alone, you have no idea who you're going to end up sitting next to. I'm usually very lucky in my lot, and can sleep through any on-plane insanity. But getting TO and then THROUGH the airport is another mess entirely. Not so many prophets and preachers, but this time of year there are a LOT of families and I have to wonder if these groups of loose resemblance are stupid, or perhaps have just never flown in the last 9.5 years since 9/11.
Fact: When you go through security, you must remove your shoes and place them in a bin and send 'em on through via the conveyor belt.
Fact: Most TSA agents will also ask that you remove sweaters, sweatshirts, hoodies, jackets, coats, hats, etc.
Fact: If you're carrying a laptop computer (or, nowadays, an ipad or ebook reader) you must place it in a bin by itself and place that on the conveyor belt.
Fact: the TSA now has restrictions on the amount of liquid you can bring through security (this includes NO SNOWGLOBES).
All of these facts are clearly stated on the TSA website, and on your airport's website (here, JFK International). Even if you're coming from another country (let's say you're from Mexico and you're flying on Aeromexico) you can check your airline's website in your own language and (in the case of Aeromexico) there are links for Qué puedes llevar and Artículos Restringidos. (For the record, you can access Aeromexico's site in English, Spanish (Mexico), French, Spanish (Spain), Japanese and Chinese).
MCO (Orlando International Airport, formerly McCoy Airforce Base...or something. I don't know. Read the Wikipedia article), when it's not as busy, has separate lines for different types of travelers i.e. your single business person who has a laptop bag and a jacket, then your family group, then a separate line for those needing special assistance. JFK has no such thing. Everyone is lumped into the same line, even if I'm ready before the 8 families in front of me. Not fun.
But less fun than an airport security line is Times Square the day before New Year's Eve. I returned to New York on Tuesday (on a VERY delayed flight, with bruises in my side thanks to the bitch I sat next to...sometimes my lot isn't so good) and today I decided to walk from my office on 39th street to the American Eagle store in Times Square, at 46th street. The seven-block walk took me 25 minutes thanks to the crowds.
But far and above all of these perfectly natural causes was the stupidity of the people around me. I'm sure that I'm being harsh and that they're not all "STUPID" but I take pride in my ability to navigate a crowd, to forge a path, and to keep walking. I could not have moved faster through this crowd unless I had killed at least 6 people. Namely, the family of actually stupid women who were in front of me a good part of the time, who seemed completely oblivious to every other person around them, and who felt that, in the middle of the block, between a wall and a newsstand, where the bottlenecking crowd was tight, and where children were likely to get trampled, that RIGHT THERE was a good spot to stop, consult a map, turn around, and take pictures of the unlit ball currently awaiting its midnight fall.