Subourbon Mom

Maximum Security — Airplane Restrooms

images-4The day President Obama announced he was officially asking Congress for permission to actively combat ISIS, I was flying home from a work conference. The plane during the flight from Charlotte to home was one of those old, outsourced planes from Canada, or maybe some company called Metal-Tube-in-the-Sky Airline. There were two rows of seats (and those felt like the old plastic covered couches in Grandma’s house) with a very narrow aisle.

About halfway through the flight, the flight attendant came on the loud speaker and said, “Please do not form a line by the bathrooms. It is a security breach.”

A few of us glanced at each other and shrugged. There was some rustling, and I assumed people were returning to their seats. A couple of minutes later, the flight attendant spoke again, this time more urgently:

“It is a breach of security for passengers to congregate by the bathrooms. Please wait until there is no one in line before you come back to use the restrooms.”

Incredulous looks passed around the cabin. Security breach? At the bathrooms?

Here are a few of the thoughts that crossed my mind while I tried to decide how long I should wait before heading back there:

First of all, I’m pretty sure folks weren’t “congregating” around the airplane bathroom, just chatting each other up—after all, it’s not a bar.

images-1Second, what happened to make someone think congregating by the plane’s bathroom could create a security situation so dire it must be forbidden? Have the FAA and Homeland Security folks ever used the bathroom on a modern plane? There’s barely room to get your pants down, much less withdraw a weapon; and, even if you did manage to extract some kind of weapon in the bathroom, having a line of people waiting outside would only hinder what you were trying to do.

If I were to have some kind of concealed weapon, I wouldn’t be getting it ready it at the back of the plane, far away from the two most important people on the plane, the pilot and co-pilot. There’s not much sense in drawing a gun, knife or explosive device and then having to charge down the aisle, tripping over someone’s feet the whole way.

images-5If we follow the logic of the danger of congregating outside crowded bathroom areas to its logical conclusion, we would have to question every line at every sports and concert event ever. Good luck dispersing the six-pack-in throng around the port-a-pods at a Jimmy Buffet concert.

Perhaps someone at the FAA has gone back to the basics of physics—maybe they are worried that if you have enough people standing at the back of the plane, it could simply fall out of the sky. If you’ve ever flown on a tiny plane, you’ve been made aware of weight distribution. They put the luggage in the back, and people in the front and middle. Too much in any direction, and the plane is in danger of not taking off, or tumbling to the ground–like those GI Joe’s with the plastic parachutes we threw from 2nd-floor windows as a kid.

Really, a bathroom security breach sounds more like a blow-out after eating some highly-questionable tuna salad from the airport snack stand. So, to the FAA and Homeland Security, I salute your efforts to keep us safe in the skies—clearly there are dangers we haven’t even conceived of. Keep up the good work.

Flying Snakes and Other Animals That Freak Me Out

Every now and then God throws an animal into the mix just to mess with us. One of His favorite things to do must be to mix up combinations of animals that don’t make sense, and see what happens.  The platypus comes to mind first, and then maybe the mole, or even the jack-a-lope.

But I didn’t see the flying snake thing coming.  Apparently I haven’t been watching the right Animal Planet shows—no one ever went into some piece-of-crap hoarder’s house and found snakes soaring among the rafters in Animal Cops, Houston.

Scientists have been studying how certain snakes can fly—not just drop down onto people from trees like a drunk teenager toilet papering somebody’s house. These things deliberately jump from a tree and land on another branch, or their prey.

Now, I’ve heard of flying squirrels—shoot, our local baseball team has it as their mascot (How intimidating—“Yep, I’m a big fan of The Squirrels.  They’re pretty fierce this year.”)—and sure, I knew there were water moccasins that would drop out of trees onto their prey.  Definitely scary-movie enough to make me stay away from all overhanging trees when I’m fishing.

Sorry, if one of those things came winging at me through the air, the last thing I’d be thinking about is “Hey, I wonder how they do that?” I’d be freaking the f**ck out!

As I said, scientists have been studying the physics of how these snakes manage to fly without appendages. They used big science terms like “vortex,” and “lift forces,” but what I took away from that is, these reptiles look a lot less like dragons flying through the air than the snakes my preschoolers cut out of paper plates.



I’m sure Darwin would make some rational explanation about adapting and being an evolved species, but on this one I’m leaning toward creationism: I think God looked at the snake and said, “Not only are you going to make them eat the apple, little snake, but you’re going to make them soil their cute little fig leaves afterward by flying at them. That’ll teach my pesky children to disobey Me.”

So where are these snakes?  They are found in lowland areas of Southeast and Southern Asia.  That may be their natural habitat, but if Lionfish and those monster pythons can get to Florida via hurricane and pet stores, I’m not taking any chances.  I’m thinking of moving to Arizona. At least rattlers are courteous enough to warn you before they strike.

The “Plane” Truth on Mindful Thinking

There are too many people in this world, and most of them found ways to annoy me last weekend while I was traveling by air from Texas–especially the fake cowboy who walked through the Houston airport with his jeans tucked into his boots (the Marlborough Man would have been so ashamed). There were the usual delays and morons who couldn’t figure out how to go through security on the first try.  But one bright spot? Airport food has gotten surprisingly healthier.

On one of the longer flights, I was offered a Mediterranean tapas-style snack to purchase that cost more than I make per hour; I splurged. Added bonus: I was pretty sure no one would sit next to me on the next flight if I ate the olives and fancy, garlicky cheese.

Since I’d lately been reading about mindfulness (the act of being present in the moment, and focusing entirely on one thing at a time), and I had LOTS of time on my hands, I decided to try to bring down my stress levels by savoring each cracker smeared with garlicky cheese. I chewed slowly, letting the crumbs dissolve in my mouth, trying to identify each herb as it hit my palate (garlic was at the top of the list—the other passengers LOVED me).  I felt the way the cracker pieces gummed up between my teeth and resisted the urge to start picking at them; instead, I made those weird faces people make when they run their tongue over their teeth to dislodge an article of food.  I’m pretty sure my lips looked like there was a gerbil running around under there.

I pressed another glob of cheese onto a cracker with the teeny-tiny spoon they provided that looked like it had been stolen from a Polly Pocket set.

Then, the next cracker shattered. Not into a few pieces I could cup in my hand or pick out of my lap, but into a billion tiny specks that hurtled themselves across the cabin and behind me in a hail of Focaccia shrapnel. I didn’t look up, but I could hear people mumbling and shifting around, brushing crackers off of their laptops and phones.

In an instant, I had gone from being mindful, and feeling somewhat superior as I did it, to being mortified and wondering if the lady next to me knew she had cracker crumbs on her cheek (she didn’t—it stayed there the rest of the flight).  I didn’t have the nerve to tell her.

So, I fell back t playing my favorite flying game: Who on this flight would survive on an island if we crashed? Who would be the hero and open the emergency exits? Most of the passengers were elderly (South Texas is like Steven Spielberg’s Cocoon in the winter), so not much help there.  Maybe the ex-football player with the Baptist bible camp shirt on—at the very least, he might be able to put in a good word.  The old biker dude with the mutton chops? Not likely, but based on his tattoos he might be handy with a needle if I needed stitches.  People with kids—forget it. They’d be useless, instinctively protecting their spawn.  My best bet was the pudgy guy wearing cammo, who looked like he would be on the rescue squad, and the skinny lady who looked like a doctor or pharmaceutical rep; either way, one would have training, or one would have good drugs.

Scouting out my fellow passengers may not have exactly been “mindful thinking,” but it did give me a mind full of other things to think about.


Air Travel: Ear Rape and Flip Flops
April 11, 2013, 11:40 am
Filed under: Misc. Humor | Tags: , , , , , , ,

This past weekend I took a trip to Chicago to see an old friend.  On the way, I spent a bit of time in airports, and decided that I will never completely leave the southern, small-town girl behind. No matter what airport I’m in, I always expect to see someone I know, even though that would have the same odds as me liking Skinny Girl drinks—ain’t gonna happen. It’s all I can do to not wave to people and say “Hi y’all!” when I get to my gate.

As I was waiting for a flight, I found an empty seat between two women, one of whom was a Soccer Mom talking into her earpiece. (Really? An ear piece? We know you’re not on business because you’re in your Mom Jeans and have a backpack. You’re not fooling anyone.) I soon discovered why there was an empty seat—for half an hour I listened to Soccer Mom recycle the same conversation to six different people. I know more about her new, red marble countertops and the creepy stain in the pod she rented then anyone should. I also know that she didn’t want to move but her husband said they had too, and she didn’t know how she was going to survive—after all the house was just “a horror!”


It was secondary ear rape (my apologies to anyone who has been actually ear raped—it should never be joked about). Like secondary smoke, I got all the pollution but none of the buzz.

So, I put in my own headphones and turned up the tunes and started people-watching. I miss people dressing up when they travel. High school girls schlepped around in flip flops, cut-off Daisy Dukes and sweatshirts, looking hung over. Everyone else wore dark jeans or pants, black jackets or navy t-shirts—not a bright color in sight. I also didn’t realize that most men seem to have stopped shaving every day—even business travelers. I’m guessing they’re trying to achieve that scruffy, laid-back lumberjack look, but I hate to tell you guys, it doesn’t work if you don’t trim it around your jaw. When you just let it grow, you look homeless.  There were even women waddling down the aisles in huge t-shirts and leggings.

C’mon, people, it’s not Wal-mart. Put in a little effort.

But the best thing I realized was that taking off in a plane is my favorite part of flying. Soaring into the air, watching the lights get smaller and the cars turn into fireflies in the distance–it makes you realize life’s everyday worries and fears are equally small, at least for the duration of your flight.

So the next time you fly, tune out the noise, put away the Xanax, and look out the window—and just maybe, you might decide to give in to that southern urge and say “Bye, y’all,” when you exit the plane.

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