>>> Text-Heavy
By staff writer E.E. Southerby
Volume 47 – August 31, 2003

Now Playing: “Layla” by Eric Clapton

This week's column was written entirely on an airplane going back to school, a stunning feat considering my lack of a laptop, a pen or a sense of humor. To say that its completion is impressive would be underestimating the fact, so don't let the absence of anything resembling comedy stand in the way of you reading, and laughing out loud at, this column. Here's what happened:

-Quote of the Moment: After I checked my luggage, got my tickets and prepared to go through security, the ticket lady calls over to me: “Sir, where are you going again?” What are the chances they won't lose my luggage now? Do they even make fractions that small?

-My flight adventure began at quarter to ass o'clock in the morning, when I was shaken out of my drunken stupor and ushered to Toronto's Pearson International Airport (“Now Without Bathrooms or Windows!”) I was flying on Welfare Airlines, which means you get no food and your leg room is actually someone else's seat. Nonetheless, I got to Toronto and waited, and waited, and waited.

-“Waited for what?” you're probably asking yourself as you practically urinate your pants in anticipation of the next joke. I was wondering pretty much the same thing, since I arrived at half past ass o'clock in the morning and my next flight wasn't until 2pm. So I just sat there, motionless, for about 17 and a half hours, like Jabba the Hutt. And not the new-school special FX Jabba the Hutt that squirms around like an oversized intestinal parasite. No, the OLD Jabba the Hutt.

-Off-Topic Corner: If Jabba the Hutt couldn't move, why were all those other gangsters so afraid of him? And why does it matter that the events of Star Wars take place ‘a long time ago' in addition to ‘in a galaxy far, far away'? I think that to answer these questions I'll go camp out right now for the absolute first showing of the new Star Wars movie along with all the other social rejects that time forgot. Maybe they'll know.

-Approximately four days later, at three in the afternoon, I was allowed to board the Welfare Airlines plane. That meant that instead of sitting on a stupid airport bench like some Forrest Gump impersonator on Ritalin, I could sit in a cramped airplane seat for a few hours while the plane, in accordance with Welfare Airlines policy, made absolutely no attempt whatsoever to move. And so I sat there and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited.

-Quote of the Moment: About an hour into the cramped airplane waiting game of doom, the pilot comes on the intercom and says: “Folks, sorry about the delay. We're carrying five live animals on board the plane and we only have three straps for their cages. So we're waiting for another plane to land so we can tie them in.” See? This is exactly why I've been proposing a mass genocide of pets and their owners. I'm getting hemorrhoids because some crazy cat lady couldn't fly without her precious Fluffy on board.

-Animals that don't really NEED to be strapped down when in the cargo hold of an airplane: Cats, dogs, fish, gerbils, hamsters, parakeets, weasels, octopi, lizards, frogs, rabbits and most types of waterfowl. Animals that do: Gazelle. I can only assume that in the six weeks we were grounded there was a herd of gazelle thumping around amongst the various luggage. At least that would explain the plane swaying around.

-Only airline pilots can get away with calling people ‘folks'. I don't know why. Maybe it's because of the pity and empathy we feel towards someone who's so out of touch with reality that he still thinks it's 1952 and that his outfit doesn't look ridiculous. (“Folks, I just flew in to town and boy are my arms tired. Ha ha ha!”)

-There was a point where the airplane actually took off from the ground. It was a pretty good feeling, except that we were all so tired and hungry from having waited this long for Muriel and her crazy cats. This would have been fine, except we couldn't get any sleep because the plane's seats don't lay back, and we couldn't eat because they refuse to feed you. I think they should use this airline to take the worst criminals to jail. Because then when they get there prison will look like Las Vegas by comparison, and they'll never want to leave. (“What do you MEAN I have to take an airplane home? I'll just stay here and make license plates, thanks.”)

-Quote of the Moment: About fifteen minutes before we were scheduled to land, the pilot comes back on the intercom: “Folks, I'm sorry to inform you that because of all the live animals on board we weren't able to get all the luggage into the cargo hold. We're really sorry about that and hope you enjoy the rest of your flight.” By this point, though, I wasn't too worried. Partly because I was so tired after spending this long aboard Welfare Airlines. Partly because I was pretty sure my luggage had already been redirected to Vietnam. But mostly because I was certain that before the day was over I would be hearing some more bad news. And so I sat there and waited, and waited, and waited.