Saturday, August 27, 2016

In Response to New River Dispatch Letter to the Editor

I was recently made aware of a fairly nasty letter to the editor, published on the New River Dispatch website. This letter, titled, "I am the American Liberal," has snagged my ire. Here's what I have to say in response, with a healthy dose of sarcasm of my own. 

No, I don't really believe this about all conservatives / republicans. I just hope this illustrates how ridiculous the person who penned that letter really is. 

I am the American Conservative. 

I believe that compassion is weak and should be silenced by any means, especially brute force. I don’t believe in American accountability. I believe that “illegal” is dismissible with a wave as long as the behavior is attributed to a white male. 

I claim to be pro-life, but I am actually only pro-birth. After birth, I enjoy seeing you struggle because it makes me feel superior to you. 

I don’t have the spine to prosecute any law enforcement official who beats and even murders someone in his or her custody. I have no problem allowing innocent people to sit in prisons, even on death row. After all, they are merely collateral damage.  

I believe that illegal immigrants are obliterating the American economy. And I fail to comprehend the statistics that prove more American tax dollars (by far) go to bail out corporate billionaires who are serial bankruptcy artists. 

I am so poorly educated that I don’t understand the difference between a language and a country. But I do, however, believe that I am incredibly clever when I disparage a person who speaks Spanish. I probably need some other hobby besides reading and re-reading my own posts on Facebook and refreshing the page to see if anyone commented. 

Free Speech is great as long as I approve and agree with it. When I don’t, I look to a presidential candidate who promises to lock down freedom of speech and prosecute journalists who hurt my delicate feelings. I label those words as lies rather than opinions and threaten to change the First Amendment in order to meet my goal of silencing them. I realize that this flies in the face of my party’s so-called love affair with the American Constitution, but I hope that no one will notice. 

I place very different values on different lives. This is evidenced by my unwillingness to acknowledge that minorities are more likely than whites to be murdered by law enforcement. I claim that the numbers support my theory because I don’t really understand how to read a chart. Numbers are hard. 

I don’t believe black lives matter. And I use BLM to prove it. I believe that the All Lives Matter sleight of hand is pretty smart, actually. I can’t see the sticky, gooey racism that oozes from it. I cheer when I see law enforcement beat a black person because I do not believe that blacks should be considered innocent until proven guilty. That right should only be afforded to whites. 

I think it’s a crying shame to lock up a white rapist if his family has a little money in the bank. Prison is hard, y’all. We shouldn’t hinder that poor boy’s ability to go on about his life and forget that it ever happened. His victim is more than capable of bearing that burden all by herself. Why make two people suffer?

I don’t understand the difference between a social democracy and socialism. I particularly have a hard time understanding that social security is a social program. Then again, I am used to social security. I am utterly terrified of change. 

I see Jimmy Carter’s humanitarian work as weak. I worship Ronald Reagan’s trickle-down economics even though it has been proven again, and again, and again to be a total failure. The corporate billionaires do not reinvest; they carry their money off shore to avoid taxes. But I turn a blind eye because I hate Democrats with a simmering rage. If they’re right, one of the pillars of my belief structure would crumble. 

I don’t believe in women’s rights until a white man defines them. Women are weak and incapable of governing their own choices and bodies. I think Sarah Palin is just cute as a bug. And I refuse to believe that Monica Lewinsky had a consensual affair with Bill Clinton. 

Speaking of Clinton, I loathe and despise Hillary. If she had left her husband after that affair, I would have screamed from the rooftops that she does not support traditional marriage. But since she forgave her husband, she clearly can’t be trusted. "Benghazi" is one of my favorite things to type (in all caps, usually).

I will only fight for religious freedom if you are Christian. I am not aware of the fact that “under God” was only added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954. I am further unaware of the entity who was behind the “under God” movement. I would call the media a bunch of liars if I were to somehow stumble onto that truth. 

I love my Rush Limbaugh t-shirt, regardless of his racist writings and on-air rantings. Because he is loud, white and male, I easily forgive his drug-addled history while frothing at the mouth that blacks who possess drugs should all be imprisoned. Poor thing just gets a bad rap by those libtards who can't bear to hear the truth. 

I am so angry about immigrants that I support the wild rantings of a spray-tanned lunatic who wants to build a wall. Unfortunately, my memory is very short. I have forgotten the words of one of my idols, Ronald Reagan, when he said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” That was a totally different wall. No similarities. None. 

No other person’s safety or freedom should ever come between me and my guns. That’s because I don’t understand that my rights come to a screeching halt when they interfere with the safety and wellbeing of someone else. I love my guns. I pet them. I want more. I dream of a world where I am surrounded by guns. Anyone who opposes my right to buy and wield any type of firearm in any place at any time is clearly a Communist. Or a libtard. Oh. I also don’t understand what the Second Amendment really means. Technicalities. 

I believe that Democrats hate the American military because they know something that I apparently don’t. They know that America is already over 1,000 times more powerful than any other nation. But that’s ok. I like my military like I like my guns: there is never enough power. 

Transgender women gross me out. I refuse to believe that they have already used the ladies’ room for generations. I am under the delusion that transgender women have been waiting for the opportunity to molest my wife and daughters. But what I conveniently forget is that the overwhelming majority of sex crimes against women is by, you guessed it, ordinary straight males. If I admitted that, I would have fewer reasons to hate. And that’s unacceptable. I also have a really sick imagination, given the things that I fixate on. #justneedtopee

I believe one is inherently qualified for political office through numerous divorces and marriages, failed businesses, bankruptcies that cost Americans millions upon millions, blatant racism, jaw-dropping misogyny, catchphrases, rallying crowds to violence, and by courting the likes of Putin and Kim Jong Un. Extra points for alienating the majority of American allies. Who needs them, anyway? 

I cling to the 2000 election, but rant and rave that everything that proves my current hero is losing is a big, fat lie. I don’t really understand the Electoral College. That’s just a bunch of fancy talk by the dumbocrats.  

I love the fact that I can seriously impair the ability of Democrat American citizens to vote. That gives me a warm fuzzy. If they wanted to vote, they should have been born middle-class and white. And republican. 

I refuse to shut up about Obamacare even though numerous families finally have the medical care that they need. I fail to comprehend that every change takes time, and that any step in this direction is a good one. I also cover my ears with my hands and go “LALALALALALA” when someone points out that one of the biggest problems with the Affordable Care Act is obstinate state governors who still fight against it to their citizens’ detriment. 

Obama is fair game. I refuse to believe that calling the President a monkey, calling his wife an orangutan, and referring to their children with unfathomable slurs makes me a racist. I just calls it likes I sees it. I hate our President with such depth and breadth that it is literally impossible for any positive quality or deed to register in my brain. 

Catchphrases make me feel smart. I grasp at phrases like “liberals just want free stuff” and "stupid sheeple" and "WAKE UP, America!" because it makes me feel important. Many people like me draw a state check to get by, but that’s different. That’s totally different. 

I believe that scientists are Godless liars, liars with their pants on fire. That’s why I use quotes around “climate change.” I don’t understand that extremely cold days in winter and extremely hot days in summer are part of the whole change that is moving around the world. I could not possibly care less about the world that I leave to my kids and their kids because I’ll be dead. It won’t matter as long as I get what I want right now.

I am not above turning a political rally into a funeral. See Trump’s calls for violence and outright executions. Those were awesome! I also believe that education is overrated. I do just fine, thank you very much. That’s why I’m such a happy person. 

I don’t want any of my money going to AIDS research. No God-fearing Christian could ever get that disease. It’s their own fault and it’s not my responsibility. 

I know I am right about all of this because my brother’s nephew’s sister-in-law down at the coffee shop told me so. 

Yes, I am the American Conservative. Patriotic right down to my chosen candidate’s self-branded, Chinese-made ties and suits manufactured in Mexico.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

We the Peeple? No, and Thank You

Tonight while I was goofing off on Facebook, as I am wont to do, Chuck Wendig posted a link with one word as his own comment — “NO.” It was this Washington Post link,  in fact. It’s all about people. Or Peeple, as it were. 

Peeple is apparently a soon-to-be app that’s designed to let you and your friends and my friends and me (Well, maybe not me. More on that later.) rate each other. It’s slated to launch in beta testing some time in November. And it sounds super cool, right? 


You know how Yelp works. And Angie’s List. Peeple is imagining itself to be similar, only different, only better. Peeple lets you rate everyday people. You and me. The best part? It’s all, at least as of right now, without our permission. YAY! You don’t have to opt in to be part of this train wreck, and you are not allowed to opt out. At least not at the time that I’m writing this here blog post. 

That’s right. Anyone can add you without your permission, and they can say that you’re worthy of a great, big, fat 5 stars! 


They can say that you forgot to shower one day last week before heading out to Target, you smelled like feet, bought 3 boxes of Krispy Kreme, and you, my friend, only get 1 star. 

What could possibly go wrong? 

I’ll tell you what. If you spend any amount of time on Twitter, you know how fast a few comments can turn into a full-on dogpile. Reputations are destroyed like that. And then there was the Great Amazon Debacle over Wendig’s latest book where one bad review turned into an avalanche. 

People are not nice online. They just aren’t. You know it, and I know it. And some third-party’s quasi code of ethics (Ethics that we have no say in, yet are bound by without our permission) will not change that. 

If this thing has even half the capacity to take off that they think it does, people are going to be wrecked. And people will find loopholes around any sort of ethics code. One screen shot of something nasty before it gets defended (or even after, for that matter), then it’s posted on Facebook and Twitter, and suddenly all of Peeple's people ethics are out the window because they are no longer in control of the monster that they created.

But hey. At least it's profitable, right?

Not my circus, not my monkeys

They assert that with negative reviews (We’re all pizza now) we will have the opportunity to state our own case in defense. Publicly, of course. They also assert that they’ve got some mighty strict policies about Peeple behavior. But whose policies are they? Are they mine and yours? Newp. They’re theirs. And remember, we can’t opt out, even if we disagree with however they might decide to stoke up their puffing, heaving steam engine and run it off the rails. 

We are all along for the ride. 

I know of some little spots on planet Earth where folks are opted into someone else’s order and beliefs with no way to opt out. 

This is a whole new kind of identity theft. Instead of commandeering your identity and using it for their own gain, they’re … oh, wait. That is exactly what they are doing! 

But instead of plucking your identity and leaving it as-is, they’re letting any hairy monkey down the street define your identity, and then the Peeple people get to cash in on your reputation to make money. How much? According to the Post, about $7.6 million so far. 

How can you get in on this action? Why, you have to pinkie swear that you really do honestly and for true know the person that you’re reviewing in a “personal, professional or romantic” way.

And they want to do all of that with love and light and fluffy bunnies and happiness!  *twinkle* 

This just feels like sunshine and ice cream wrapped up in a great big hug from the Lord, am I right?

The people behind Peeple are Julia Cordray and Nicole McCullough. According to the Post article, Cordray has a degree in marketing and can't figure any reason why anyone wouldn't want their reputation bookmarked and continually added to by any user who has a whim and opposable thumbs. 

It's like Angie's List meets Topix. 

McCullough, again according to the Post, apparently thinks that she needs an app to help her decide who is ok for her kids to hang out with and who isn’t. 

The two initially wanted to let Facebook do the dirty, behind the scenes (read: without your knowledge) work of gleaning people to populate the app. But the site’s API said a great big honkin’ NOOOO to that BS. At least someone in this disaster has some scruples, even if it is digital and not human. 

All of this sounds creepy enough. But there is still more. This evening, September 30, Yours Truly decided to spread some light and love of her own.

Ok, what I really did was express some concerns about Peeple on their Facebook app page. I posted about how I smell libel lawsuits in the future, how I think this is a VERY bad idea, that it could do some pretty serious harm to people with stalkers, and be a breeding ground for bullying. Before you think that I’m just a big, fat meannie, I was in no way the only person expressing these concerns. So guess what the Peeple people did. 

Go on, guess. 

Ok, I’ll tell you. Shortly after my posts were made, they deleted them!  Not only that, they barred me from the ability to post anything on their page whatsoever. I asked a friend to go check it out. I mean, it might have been that they needed to take a moment and breathe, and they just locked down the page to everyone. But no. Just widdle old me. 

Well, me and probably everyone else who posted anything negative that they didn’t want to defend. (Edited: I was right. They deleted posts from a lot of my friends and other folks that I don't know, and then blocked us from posting again.)

They did leave a sprinkling of negative posts. In my estimation, that’s to leave the illusion of fairness. It’s all about what people see, right? Yeah. That’s my argument, too. 

So are you following me, here? These people praise the gods of accountability, but refuse to be accountable! 

In their own words from the most recent post at their Facebook page , “The media does a good job of ruining lives and publicly shaming someone by not allowing a full picture of who the person was before they did something we didn’t approve of and how they showed up in the world after. We all deserve a second chance to do better next time.” They have argued that we all need those negative things out there so that we can learn from them and grow and do better. 

Um . . . 

I think that Ms. Cordray and McCullough should practice what they preach. Do better next time. At least pretend that you have some sort of understanding of how horribly wrong this will probably go, and how you will have been the facilitators of a lot of pain and harassment, not to mention the outright theft of privacy. 

Most of us are not public personalities and we like it that way. But if Julia Cordray and Nicole McCullough have their self-centered way, none of us will ever have privacy again.

This is turning into a 7th grade slam book, just for grown ups. Those never end badly, do they? 


Sunday, June 7, 2015

This 1 Reading Hack Will Change Your Life

No particular reason for the Buddha. I just like him a lot. 

Any writer knows that a great headline makes all the difference. You’ve got about two sixteenths of a second to grab someone’s attention, or not. Attention spans are about the size of a gnat brain these days, and just as flighty, so those well-oiled headline hacks are part of the game sometimes. But it’s getting a bit ridiculous out there, folks.

Baity blog post titles give me a twitch, and not a happy kind of twitch. You know the ones. They read something like, “… and You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!” or “ … When I Saw, it My Mouth Fell Open!” And a personal favorite, “ … After Seeing This, My Life was Never the Same!” 

When was the last time anyone’s life actually changed because of a post about rubbing coffee grounds around the eyes, or how different a girl looked wearing makeup, or a recipe for blueberry lemonade? 

For that matter, has anyone’s Mind really been Blown because of a way to keep a doorknob from slamming into a wall? Isn’t that why some genius invented these things about a thousand years ago? 

I fell for all of it at first. Hook, line, and proverbial sinker. It was different. Sometimes it was even clever. And clever is good. But now, the whole thing is pretty much a guarantee that I won’t click. Why? The answer will ASTOUND YOU!

Because the copy never lives up to the title (sorry, not sorry about that).

If my life had ever been changed by any of those life-changing posts, I would be all over it like my crazy dog on my cat’s latest deposit in the litter box. Ew. But it hasn’t. 

She really is smarter than she looks. Except when it comes to the cat box.
Have I seen anything in one of those posts that I thought was interesting? Of course! It really is clever, I think, to fold over the top of a potato chip bag to make it easier to reach into. And now I know that if there’s ever a power outage AND I happen to have a bag of corn chips in the house, I can set them on fire and burn them like adorable little triangular candles. 

Weren’t tips like that usually something Heloise would tell us about? If she wrote a title about a “Mind Blowing Way to ___________” you’re damn right I’d click! But that’s because Heloise has developed a reputation for being straight up, smart, and to the point. She’s genuine. If she told you that you could remove a ketchup stain from your wedding dress using motor oil (Please don’t try that, because she hasn’t. And why are you eating French fries on the way to the church anyhow?), you’d better believe that it would work. 

I guess that’s what’s so bothersome. It’s false advertising. All of it. Click here to have everything that you ever thought you knew about life permanently changed … by a dude who tells you to cut a basketball in half and duct tape it to a wall to prevent the door knob from crashing into it. 

You need a springy door stopper thingy. Now. 

I realize that I sound grumpy. I guess I am. But it really is getting so ridiculous out there. A great headline really is important. Without it, most people won’t even click at all. But if most of the effort is spent on the headline while the copy is as soggy as yesterday’s salad, I’m just not buying it. I’m smarter than that. 

And despite what the people who churn out this crap by the ton want you to believe about yourself, you are smarter than that, too. 

So what's that one reading hack that will change your life? Be skeptical. Always be skeptical. 



Sunday, December 15, 2013

Monday, July 15, 2013

What Has Social Media Done for You Lately?

Sometimes I get the urge to rip out every plug from every wall, every device, and go be a bum on the beach. Sadly, I live nowhere near the beach. That makes being a beach bum kinda hard. 

I don't think I own the right outfit for beach bumming.

Unfortunately, I don't own a tutu and I live in the mountains. Mountain bum doesn’t have near the same ring to it. It actually sounds kinda creepy. 

I don’t think I’m online too much or too connected, even though a lot of people would surely disagree. I think I’m just too casually connected with people I flat-out don’t like. How come in the real world nobody expects us to give even a nod to people who drive us crazy, but many of us find ourselves smack in the middle of online discussions with people we can’t stand?

We’re still allowed to not like certain people, right? Or did I miss a memo...

Facebook has this magical, sparkly, happy-kitten, wondrous ability to bring people together. Especially people who would be much better off not knowing that the other existed. That’s like tossing a bee hive into a hornet’s nest just to see what happens. 

Let’s all be friends! 

Lions eat gazelles, you know. They eat elephants, too. Didn’t Animal Planet teach us anything? 

I don’t like the way excuses for bad manners are made as if a person’s hometown makes it all ok. Rude is rude, regardless of where it hails from. New York, Knoxville or Los Angeles, surely we all have some idea about what’s rude and what isn’t.

I got not time for rude. And I don’t want to grow a thicker, elephant skin. My skin is aging fast enough as it is, thankyouverymuch. And I don’t want to be eaten by a lion. 

So with this questionable experiment called Social Media, we’re shoved together all in the name of friendship. But some people were never meant to be friends. I stand a much better chance of keeping my karma in good condition if its not tested every damned day. 

Lennon said that instant karma’s gonna get you. I always wondered what “instant karma” meant, but maybe this is it. We do live in a world of instant everything, after all. Instant gratification on all fronts, including communication. 

One theory about instant karma is instant accountability for your actions. Holy crap, what a concept! The Internet takes away a great deal of accountability. A keyboard and the anonymity of not saying things to a person’s face makes us 10 feet tall and bulletproof. 


Sure I would, since I don't actually know you. 

The sensation of no accountability online is pretty dang ironic considering that we’ve all heard the warning: What you send out into the  interwebs is there forever and forever and forever. 

And forever.

My darling Mr. Vagabond avoids all social media as if its lava. I’ve teased him about that, but I think he might be onto something. 

Being the loudest, the most forceful, the one with all of the “real” answers, and the one with the quickest wit--what does that actually mean? 

Does it mean anything at all? Or is it just a facade that lets the bully feel important for a minute?

You!  No, YOU!  

It is bullying, you know. That’s pretty much a given, and we’re supposed to shun bullies nowadays. That’s the right thing to do, correct?  Or is that only true if you’re five and on a playground?

Of course anyone would tell you that all social media lets its users decide who they want to see and interact with. But wasn’t this supposed to be fun, and not another job?

Myspace was fun.

If we don’t treat it like a job, staying on top of all of the changes that happen on pretty much a daily basis, it's our fault for being at risk of whatever. 

That’s actually another thing that pushy people love to remind everyone else about. “Well, you know that you can (insert remedy for whatever is pissing off someone else).” And then the educator feels all super-smart and good about himself or herself, and the one who is already having a shitty day feels worse. 

Let’s all be friends! Remember: Animal Planet. 

No, I don’t think social media brings friends together, or at least that’s not its primary function anymore. If you don’t believe me, scroll through your friends list and see just how many people you actually interact with, and how many of those you would consider friends out in the “real world.” 

No, dear. There's no arsenic in the tea.

In my case, the percentage of real friends versus acquaintances online is about the same as the percentage of those among people I know in the flesh-and-blood real world. 

So are we really making lots and lots of awesome friends? Or are we just broadening connections that don’t enrich our lives? I’m “friends” with a few rather famous people. Some of those people have interacted with me personally on Facebook and Twitter. Some of them, I have even shared space, time and cocktails with out in the real world. I do not, however, expect to get an invitation to their next BBQ or birthday party. 

If we’re only broadening connections, how long until we’re spread so thin that there’s not a whole lot of our real selves left to devote to the people who actually matter to us? 

I think I need a margarita on the beach, my toes in the sand and some time to think this through. Or some moonshine and dirt, since I am unfortunately a mountain bum. 


Sunday, July 14, 2013

How to Be a Real Writer -or- Where's My Membership Card?

Years ago, I had a romantic view of real writers. Alas, my life as a writer is nothing like the one I imagined. I meet deadlines to buy groceries. That’s pretty much the long and short of it. So, where is the mysterious life of the real writer I fancied so much? A little birdie told me it exists somewhere, and I’m determined to find it.

Real writers travel to far-off countries, nod knowingly toward fellow intellectuals and sample exotic cuisine. They sit in faded leather chairs beside roaring fireplaces. They puff on pipes while sipping cognac and discuss conceptual topics while practicing foreign languages.

That, friends and neighbors, is the life. Well, maybe not the pipes, but you get the idea.

I have never tasted cognac. I have never been outside the United States. Spending a week at America’s Best Value Inn of Farmington, NM doesn’t qualify me as well-traveled, even if they did offer a continental breakfast. My leather chair is pink. Pink! And it reclines in three different positions (sometimes). 

There is definitely something amiss. 

Did I miss Real Writer Orientation? Did I leave a bad mailing address? Maybe my welcome packet went to the wrong house. I spied the mailman delivering a Rosetta Stone package across the street a few days ago, and I am not amused. My neighbor thought he was slick, but I saw him stuff that pipe into his pocket. I know what he’s up to.

We’ve all seen the classic image. A black turtleneck with a pair of odd-looking spectacles is the epitome of Writer. A glass of red wine and an overflowing ashtray on the table don’t hurt, and neither does listening to obscure music that only a few can appreciate. And there’s always a quiet, stealthy cat.

My "look" consists of a flannel nightgown or a pair of sweat pants and a T-shirt. Maybe that’s part of the problem; I don’t have the official uniform. Legend says ensembles are issued at the annual Secret Society of Real Writers meetings. Invitations are sent by carrier ravens, each one reciting Poe as it disappears into the night after depositing the engraved paper on a lucky recipient’s windowsill. I have yet to receive one. The only deposits on my windowsills are from pigeons. 

Dirty birds.

Maybe changing out of my nightgown would help my chances. Sadly, the tortured, brilliant writer regalia is not available on clearance at Walmart (and their alcoholic beverage selection peaks at Boone’s Farm Tickle-Pink). The fact that I even have a best sweatshirt pretty much wrecks my chance of finding a gilded invitation on my windowsill for the next meeting of the highbrow elite.

In my quest for that elusive Secret Society membership card, I am earning battle scars. I’m not sure how much weight those carry toward acceptance, but maybe they will help pad my resume. At least they show dedication to the cause. Damages include dark circles, eye strain, coffee stains on my best flannel nightgown (I have one of those too), and a calloused pinkie from hitting the delete key repeatedly. 

My eye doctor explained that I need reading glasses. He took three paces backward before saying, “It’s happening younger and younger these days.” I didn’t believe him, but it was a nice effort to preserve my pride and his shin bones. Maybe I’ll get a pair of impressive glasses out of the deal, so it’s not all bad. I wonder if great spectacles make a yellow sweatshirt look introspective and brilliant like those elusive, would-be contemporaries. 

Probably I ought to apply for a passport just in case.

Writing at a computer has not only taken my eyesight; it has abolished my ability to write with a pen. Failed motor skills: Another battle scar, and one I can prove by signing the RSVP if / when my invitation comes. Incidentally, I am the only person I know who rarely needs spellcheck and makes up for it in serial "typos" with a pen and paper. I recently depleted an entire book of checks just to make the car payment. At least I remembered how to write the word VOID by the time I was finished. 

I wonder how VOID sounds in Italian. Impressive, I’ll bet. Even more impressive if I happened to be holding a snifter of cognac.

Try as I may, I can’t seem to get the whole package together. My glasses are ordinary and my fireplace is a kerosene heater. I listen to Metallica and my dogs would eat any feline critter unfortunate enough to live here. 

I’m certain there are guidelines and bylaws to follow for becoming a real writer. Since I remain convinced that my neighbor pilfered my orientation materials, I’ll have to wing it. If you see me peering in his window, please don’t call the police. I’m only trying to peek at the manual. There’s always hope for next year.


I originally wrote this post for the humor blog, An Army of Ermas, in November of 2010. A cat has since joined our family, and I am happy to report that he hasn't been eaten by the dogs. The DOGS, however, have learned to watch their backs. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Now Boarding

In my perfect world, airports would arrange all gates for each airline in a central area. I’ve never known why I exit Delta and then have to pass United, Delta (again), three fledgling airlines and American to finally reach my Delta connection. I’ve determined that the distance between my gates is directly influenced by a few factors:

  • Is it earlier than 5 a.m.?
  • Have I had any coffee?
  • Am I using the same carry-on that’s had a broken wheel for three years?
  • Is the escalator or people mover I need broken? 
  • Am I connecting at LAX or Charlotte?

If it's earlier than 5 a.m., I am sleepwalking through the airport with a scary case of bed-head to begin with. No flight should ever leave before 5 a.m. The very idea that I would be tracking down a connection that early means my Priceline Negotiator is working for the other team. 

If I haven’t had any coffee, every Starbuck’s and burnt coffee pot at Airport Burgers R Us is a distraction, slowing me down. Deliberately walking past coffee retailers when my blood-caffeine level is sitting at zero is as vexing as walking through Disney World with my socks bunched up inside my shoes. 

If my carry-on is broken, the Gods of the Friendly Skies are clearly up there sipping Mocha Lattes and placing bets on how many times the little rolley case will flip over as I drag it through concourse after concourse. 

They’re also laughing at my bed-head.

If accessing the next gate requires the use of a broken escalator or people mover, its time for a good cry. But not yet. There is coffee to be had on the next flight. Well, it looks like coffee. Kinda. 

If all of this is happening at LAX or Charlotte, I’m approaching meltdown. I am not, however, getting any closer to my gate in the next half hour. I may also require therapy later. Might as well throw in a blister on my left heel just to make it a good time. 

Flying used to be fun. I’d show up early to watch other flights arrive and depart. Flight attendants would hand out whole cans of Coke to passengers and smile while they did it! 

These days, I arrive at the airport early in order to set aside enough time for my free TSA physical. If I want a full drink, I’ll be handing over $4 to a vendor for an undersize bottle of Pepsi, but only if I have time between flights. 

I don’t know what happened to the fun days of flying. Maybe post 9-11 really is the culprit. Or maybe I am just old and grumpy. 

I think airlines should be more like AAA. With each boarding pass, travelers should receive a map of the next airport with their concourse route and all coffee retailers along the way highlighted in yellow. Until that becomes a reality, I’ll keep trying to book flights at reasonable hours, I’ll have coffee on the way to the airport and I will not ever connect through LAX or Charlotte again if I can help it. 

I should also buy a new carry-on, but that’s shooting kinda high.


I originally wrote this post for the humor blog, An Army of Ermas, in April of 2012.