Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What every good Scout knows

United Airlines out of O'Hare. I'm running late to the gate but think, "Oh, you should buy a bottle of water!" Then I check my watch again, swallow a couple times (okay, spit still goes down so I'm hydrated enough for now) and board. After all, the drink cart will be coming down the aisle before you know it. (You feel it coming, don't you? But still, there might be a surprise, so keep reading.)

The jam-packed plane (is there any other kind?) departs on time. Oh, happy days! We launch into the air, fly for a while, then a while longer, then a LONG while longer. My swallowing mechanism is starting to bog down. I keep turning my head hoping to see the aisle clogged by liquid refreshments heading my way. Nothing. Like a director on a movie set, I want to yell ACTION!

Eventually, a voice crackles over the intercom. "Ladies and gentlemen, we were going to serve beverages, but it seems food service"--or whatever they call them--"didn't provide us with any cups. We only have four cups. If you are really in need of a drink, please ring your call button." I don't remember this being followed by an apology. After all, it wasn't their fault. Dumb food service.

I think to myself, oh, yea, fly the "friendly skies" where fists and briefcases fly as dehydrated people brawl over four thirst-quenching cups. But what followed stunned me: silence. Not a DING to be heard. Was I the only nincompoop without a water bottle? Were people too dehydrated and therefore too weak to lift their arms? Have business travelers gotten so used to today's travel oddities that we all now just shrug our shoulders and say, "First we lost the pillows, then the five pretzels, then blankets and now the water. Ho-hum. Whatever."

Then a sinister thought tries to take hold: Maybe the airlines are testing us to see if we CARE about beverages and the entire cart will be next on their list of take-aways if we don't rally. I almost leap to my feet to strike a kung-don't-mess-with-me stance.

Then another thought occurs to me. Perhaps people, OTHER people, were smart enough to say, "Hey, just give me the whole can." I actually lift myself out of my seat and cast my eyes about. Nope. The masses are simply reading, sleeping, chatting--sipping on their own water bottles. Those "safe" water bottles they were smart enough to purchase on their way to the gate. Those water bottles that need no cups and no cart service.

You know, for someone who was a short-lived Girl Scout and long-time 4-H gal (I made the switch when I realized there were no boys in Girl Scouts), you'd think I'd have learned by now to be prepared for . . . just about anything the airlines can throw at me. Back in the day when I could travel with my good old Tupperware container full of my own water (far left in the photo of what used to be my travel essentials), I was. But things have changed and so, therefore, must I. In fact, I'm going to stop typing right now and pack an extra seat belt and call button in my bag. Just in case.


Anonymous said...

I think it showed some people were considerate of others and that is a good thing. Helps if you think positive about people rather than doing so much bashing!!

Anonymous said...

A little known fact: even though you can't bring a filled bottle of liquid through security, you can bring an empty bottle. So I regularly bring an empty water bottle on board and ask the flight attendant to fill it as I board.

CharlotteMichigan said...

I have just begun bringing an empty bottle or traveler cup with me. It gets through security every time, and then I can get it filled on the plane if I don't have time to buy a bottle of water before my flight. Odd, I know, but it works.