Day 19: Air travel

In case the two (or more?) posts I’ve already done on DrupalCon didn’t clue you in, we’re coming up on the High Nerd Holidays of my particular corner of the internet.

I’m in New Orleans, a city I’ve never been to but which my secretly gothic heart has always loved from afar. So over the next six days you can expect to hear all about New Orleans, probably some vampires and cemeteries, maybe some cool plants, and a LOT of Drupal talk. If previous DrupalCons are any indication, I will be dead tired by lunch time every day and then will stay out until 2 am drinking anyway. I hereby proclaim that shit is about to get nerdy and possibly incoherent.

For now, let’s talk about how terrible air travel is:

  1. You have to sit way too close to other people.
  2. Everyone gives you dirty looks when you sneeze, even though you are sneezing because you are allergic to them.
  3. People watching at airports is like watching a pack of too-smart cows.
  4. People do ask permission to touch your butt, but they still touch your butt.
  5. Everyone tells you how much you matter, but never actually show you that you matter. Breaking some cardinal creative writing rules right there.
  6. Sometimes the flight attendants have dead eyes and you just wonder how long any of us will live.
  7. Food is so expensive and there is not even a way to get cup noodles.
  8. The process of loading humans onto planes is so stupid, slow, painful, and disorganized that it makes me want to start keening while I guard my luggage, which I inevitably regret bringing.
  9. Let us discuss Tara's Unified Theory of Crowds. While you are standing in all those lines, you get ample opportunity to see ALL the people think they are special enough to go in the special people line. I would like to make a general statement: If you’re not 150% sure you belong in the special line, you don’t. We all belong in the long, terrible line. That’s how life works. You are in traffic, and you think you should take the empty lane? WRONG. You are in Yellowstone, and you think you should avoid crowds to see nature? WRONG. Go where there is a traffic jam and you will see bears. Going off on your own special journey never works unless you are a professional bear tracker, which you aren't.

We signed up for TSA Pre(check), though we haven’t had a chance to use it yet. As I walked out of the office, I thought: TSA PreCheck is basically white privilege incarnate. You have to be wealthy enough to travel, and you have to be canny enough with the system to find out how exactly to navigate the fairly opaque sign-up system, and then, you know, the system has to actually deem you worthy. I suspect that the actual background checks are faiiiiirly balanced, it’s just the process of getting into the system that seems unfairly balanced toward me as a young, technologically inclined, educated white person. So, I want to make an announcement: Go get TSAPreCheck! Feel like a special cog in the terrible machine of modern air travel! It’s $85 for 5 years. Here's how:

  1. Go to this website and fill out the forms.
  2. Pick a time and go to whatever tiny office they have.
  3. Bring your credit card and your passport.
  4. They are very polite and assuming you’re not a terrorist, you’ll probably get in. They ask you the same questions from the survey you already answered, and they make you stand up to give your fingerprints to a machine.

At that point you enter a Valhalla where you no longer have to take your shoes off to go through security and the line is way shorter. It doesn't fix air travel, but until we have bullet trains, it will have to do.


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