Our American Airlines 777 had landed in Miami – 20 minutes early – and those of us in business class were right there by the door, waiting to deplane. The jet bridge wasn’t meshing with the door properly, and there was some understandable foot tapping. But the fellow next to me became really annoyed. Where a little world-weary wry humor might certainly have been in order, if one were in that sort of mood (I wasn’t), he was telling the flight attendant how incompetent the airline was. He pronounced it very precisely, several times, with increasing exasperation, as the wait stretched to what must ultimately have been six or seven minutes. Ultimately, the plane inched very gently forward a foot or two, the Jet Bridge meshed, the door opened, and we went on our way. ‘You would think after all this time they would have developed the competence to do this correctly,’ he was now saying to some stranger just ahead of me on the jet bridge.
And I am thinking, ‘Hmmm – let’s see. We have just flown across the continent in four hours and thirty-eight minutes. Our reclining Business Class seats offered extending leg rests, power for our laptops, head rests and an inflatable lumbar support. We had our choice of movies, a magnificent lunch, a choice of ice cream or tiramisu for dessert and then, later, freshly baked cookies and milk. The climate was controlled, the bathrooms ample. We landed early and safely. But the pilot stopped a couple of feet short and we had to wait seven minutes. And he’s steamed? What must this guy be thinking! (And what would Wilbur and Orville have been thinking? And what would the same journey have been like even a single lifetime ago, let alone two?)’
I mean, a little amused irony would have been fine – ‘Geez, we can do all this but we haven’t figured out how to stop on precisely the right dime?’ But this guy was steamed.
The irony, of course – because, yes, irony does abound – was that I could see he was headed to baggage claim. He was rushing for nothing. Baggage claim in Miami is horribly slow, and he may still be there waiting for his bags. (I kind of hope he is.)
Half the people on earth live on less than two dollars a day. A billion people go to bed hungry every night and a quarter of the people on earth never get a clean glass of water. Like most of us, I tend to ignore that and get annoyed when there’s traffic or my cell phone drops a call. Still, I would argue that these are – for most Americans, Europeans and Japanese, and certainly for those of us fortunate enough to fly business class – the good old days. But what’s next? It could go either way. If you have time, click here. No one has a clearer worldview.
Quote of the Day
In 1800, 75% of [an American's] working man's expenditures went for food alone. By 1850, that had dropped to 50%. Today it is a little more than 11%.~The Wall Street Journal, September 20, 1996
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