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March 18, 2005

In re: my previous comments on bloggers versus journalists? I should make it clear where I think I stand on that particular food chain.

Journalists and professional pundits are out there, slaving away in the hot sunshine, trying to repair the potholes in the social and economic freeway.

I'm the person sitting under a tree, a comfy one hundred yards from the traffic, sipping a cool drink and making (sometimes profoundly idiotic) suggestions for how to do it better and thinking that they really ought to provide hammocks for the spectators.

I don't really want to be a political or news pundit. I don't know enough about anything. I know four things about a thousand topics, but I don't know a lot about any single one of them.

I'd like to be a columnist of some kind, though. Imagine getting paid for writing. I could babble aimlessly for a living.

I could talk about airports. Talk about your cross-section of weird Americana.

There's the woman who looks as if she'd be more at home pushing a shopping cart down a street, heading for the line reserved for "first-class" passengers. If I tried to get on a plane looking like that, I'd wind up in a windowless room undergoing a full-body search. Money is magic.

There's the inevitable Type A Businessman, worried that no one will understand how important he is as he shouts into his cell phone about his company's latest crisis. Forget that there are two hundred other people in this line, not one of whom cares about his widgets, he's intent on making us all understand that his company will barely make it through the day without his hand on the tiller. (I always find myself hoping that one of his competitors is standing close behind him, making notes.)

There's the conflicted 30-something woman, taking leave of her aging parents. Their fond reluctance to say good-bye is a poignant counterpoint to the mixture of love, anxiety, and relief on her face. She loves them, she's worried about leaving them, and if she has to spend one, more day with her mother, she's going to have a nervous breakdown. Families can be such a mixed blessing.

There's "real men don't check their luggage" guy, the one stretching the meaning of "carry-on" to include anything up to and including the player piano he's stuffed into his duffel bag. And if he thinks we don't notice he's getting around the "one bag" rule by fastening the guitar case to the duffel bag with a plastic strap, he's very mistaken.

We all pray he won't be on our flight. None of us want to get crushed in the aisle of the plane for ten minutes while he struggles to disassemble this contraption and store the disparate parts in the overhead bin.

"Please step out of the aisle and let the rest of the passengers board" always means everyone but him.

There's Family With Baby. We all know what that means. They're determinedly avoiding the eyes of everyone else in the concourse as they head for their gate...and we all hold our breath until they've passed our gate by without stopping.

They're calling the first group to board the plane. Usually the last 10-15 rows, more or less, depending on how big the plane is.

And...oh no! The Entitlement King is on our plane! And he's in line in front of us!. We all curse our fate.

His seat is in the back, but there's at least one man on every flight who does this. The Entitlement King boards, and then the line stops so he can shove his carry-on bag into a bin at the front of the plane, taking up all the available space that should be reserved for the passengers in those seats.

He's the center of the universe and he shouldn't be lumbered with toting luggage, so we also have to wait while he chats up the flight attendant and oversees the stowing of his garment bag in the compartment reserved for such at, again, the front of the plane.

As a woman, and a business traveler, I'd like to point out that never once, in fifteen years, has a flight attendant offered to store my garment bag for me. No...my clothes get crushed into an overhead bin next to the piano and come out looking like I've been sleeping in them since 1997.

I also get bitter when I see someone's grandfather and grandmother tottering onto the plane and heading toward their Row 5 seats, because I know the Entitlement King has crammed his junk into the space they need for their bag of "visit the grandkids" souvenirs.

Now the flight attendant will have to take their carry-on bags, haul them to the back of the plane, and put them into the bin over the Entitlement King's head. There's plenty of space there, of course. And grandpa and grandma will spend the entire flight in a fever of anxiety, constantly turning to stare toward the back of the plane, praying that no sticky-fingered fellow passenger will find themselves unable to resist that fluffy sweater grandma just couldn't resist in the concourse store window.

The problem with this country is that all the wrong things are against the law. If you're not allowed to abandon your luggage in the airport, why are you allowed to abandon it in the airplane?

I could be very witty about these kinds of things if I didn't have a Real Job that sucks up all my available intelligence.

Or I could write about the seemingly endless debate on-line (among women bloggers) over the issue of weight. My perspective might not be the same as that of other women. (Actually, I know it isn't.) I could write about women, self-image, body image, and health. I have thoughts I've never seen posted on any woman's blog.

(For that matter, I could write an entire entry on the fact that although I look around the stores, streets, and hallways of this city and see at least as many overweight men as I do overweight women, I never hear men discussing incipient heart failure, diabetes, high blood pressure, or even their inability to get a date based upon society's unfair characterization of them as "fat."

It's like a discussion I was having with a friend about contemporary literature. Well...mostly about the defunct Oprah book club. We both found ourselves turned off by most of the selections, not because we disdain the writings of oppressed minority women, but because all of the books were so exclusionary. I donít have time to get into it at the moment, but it was based around where you draw the line between "us" and "them".)

Failing that, this is the kind of thing I write during my lunch break when I'm determined to avoid the news headlines because I simply don't have the time for the kinds of rants they will inspire. So, you know, apologies for the lack of any actual content and stuff.

To make up for it, I highly recommend this.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:31 PM