In my twenties and thirties, I used to travel almost every week. I was a regional sales director and my region spanned half of the US. It was a blast. I loved airports, I loved people watching and I loved my job. To pass my time while flying, I had a Gameboy and I played Tetris!
Once I had the boys, I didn't fly hardly at all. Life kind of just kept happening and there wasn't any room for jetting anywhere, especially not with two infants or, worse yet, two toddlers!
We did take one flight to visit my in-laws last year, but I was so busy watching the kids experience their first flight, that I never even looked up or had any thoughts of my own!
Last week, I went on a flight to Boston. It was so funny to see everything that changed since I last flew by myself.
The first thing I noticed was how PC (politically correct) and accommodating we have become.
The flight boarder guy called out the first set of passengers allowed to board the airplane:
"At this time, may we please have our first class passengers board the aircraft." That was expected.
"Next, can we please have people that need wheelchair access to board the aircraft." That's nice.
"Any uniformed military service men or women, please board." Awww, that's awesome! They deserve that.
"People traveling with children under two." Please, God not by me!
"Anyone traveling with dividend miles." Shoot! I forgot to put my miles number in the reservation.
"Anyone traveling with a dividend plus MasterCard." Crap! I have a Visa. Does that count?
"Anyone that is a Star Plus member." How the heck do you get to be a Star Plus member?
"Anyone that has service animals." Okay, I'll always wait for those cuties.
"Anyone that is gold member...."Really?
"Anyone that is a silver member..." Oh COME ON!!
"Anyone that has a blue preferred status." now thiiiissss one was my favorite. When I did the kiosk to print my boarding pass, it asked me if I wanted to pay $20 to have blue preferred status. Seriously?? Even if I had loads of cash, I wouldn't spend it on getting onto the airplane three minutes before everyone else! Especially since it was ten minutes behind all the other people that just boarded! What the heck?!
By now, I had been standing for twelve minutes. I was impatiently doing the mommy sway. You know the one that you do side to side when you hold an infant. However, after the infant years are over, it becomes part of your genetic DNA and for some reason you sway every time you wait in line. If you don't know what I am talking about, go to the grocery store. Look at all women who have a slightly poochy belly they will ALL sway side to side while waiting to pay for their Go-gurts and fruit snacks.
As I wait, I start to become a smart ass with the guy next to me. We giggle while we make up new groups of people that can board the aircraft in front of us.
"Anyone who has a chihuahua named Pico, please board the aircraft..."
"Anyone who has unicorn named Starlight..."
"Anyone who has ever worn plaid pants..."
It was fun to make fun of an annoying situation.
Once we finally were able to board, I noticed the technology.
First, I saw that the "NO SMOKING" sign that had previously inhabited the overhead lighting system was gone. It was now replaced by PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR MOBILE DEVICES. I chuckled as I thought about Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. I silently gave them credit for the transformation. Then I imagined them looking at each other and Steve saying to Bill, "Didn't see that one coming!"
Next, I noticed that everyone on entire plane had devices. iPhones, iPads, Macs, laptops, cell phones, iPods, Kindles, Nooks, and even DSs (no more Gameboys, however). Only two people had an actual book. A girl next to me was reading one of them. She kept laughing as she read. The book was called "Let's Talk About Diabetes in Owls". I went online to iTunes and ordered it mid-flight right onto my iPad so I could see for myself how good it was! Talk about amazing technology. I looked hard for a magazine- nope! I cringed for the publishing industry but then realized people are still paying for the magazines and books they are just reading them on their devices. I then got excited for the trees in the forests! Go trees!
I laughed at the fact that the TURN OFF ELECTRONIC DEVICES sign may have changed from NO SMOKING but the dinging of the signal as it turned off created the same behavior! The minute that light turned off everyone desperately grabbed for their devices like they used to grab for their cigarettes! Ha!
My flight even had free wi-fi and it worked! I watched the latest episode of Chicago Fire on NBC.com 30,000 feet in the air! It took a couple of tries to grab the signal so out of habit held my iPad above my head to help it grab the signal. I laughed that even 30,000 feet above the Earth the signal was still spotty. I reminded myself next time I am on land and hold my cell above my head to grab the signal, that even if I had arms 30,000 feet long, it wasn't actually me putting it above my head that fixed the problem. I promised myself next time, just to wait patiently, save the energy and the phone will most likely grab the signal whether it's above my head or not.
Once we landed and we were all allowed to check our phones for messages. One of the phones rang. It was an iPhone that had the old school ring. The ring that is like the old, 80's phones that used to hang on your kitchen wall with the loooooonnnngg, tangled cord! Talk about a flashback! It was the kind of flashback feeling you get when you see a picture of MC Hammer in parachute pants. That noise in such a modern world was an oxymoron, it confused my brain.
When I walked through the airport it was more of the same. Everything was based around technology. No more sitting in "pleather" rows of seats with a laptop cord stretched all the way across the waiting area while you charged your laptop for the flight. Nope! Now, there are areas with lattes and high top tables which house a stand of outlets with which you were not only encouraged but expected to hook your device. People chatting as if they were at a bar while their devices charged. There weren't any clocks anywhere because now people check their phones for the time. The smoking lounge was replaced with a spa and people of all ages were getting massages and pedicures! I'm not joking!
All in all, I realized the world had morphed. While, i changed two sets of diapers and checked blood sugars, it morphed into the dreams that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates once dreamed in their garages. Only now that dream was on steroids.
I remember a picture of Steve Jobs delivering a speech saying "One day every singe home will have a computer." Well, I guess it's officially "one day."
I am sad for the world that will lose the connection of people. Once the "it's ok to play on your phone now" light came on. All talking stopped. Heads went down and people got lost in their technology. No more meeting someone on a flight and doing business with them in the future.
It was sad to think of all those connections lost. However, when a nice man struck up the "What do you do?" conversation, I found myself becoming impatient with his inquiries and just wanted to start playing Candy Crush while listening to my iPod. I may be sad but I, too, am on of the technology-addicted minions!
On the way home, I wondered what the flights will be like when my boys bring their kids on a flight. I decided to keep my old Gameboy with my Tetris cartridge because something told me my grandkids will one day make some money on such an old piece of "technology"! My old Gameboy might be worth some money to them.
P.S. I posted this to my blog while I was flying! Go wifi!