Baker’s Dozen

The recent Delta flight in July 2023, stuck on asphalt for several hours in Las Vegas, causing multiple medical emergencies and hospitalizations, is the tip of the iceberg and lucidly illustrates the decline in service in air travel. Airports have become jurisdictions on their own where liberty goes to be humbled in the guise of purported safety(Benjamin Franklin had forewarned: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”)
According to one study, TSA costs over 690 million dollars per possible life saved, if that.
TSA sure has become a necessary hurdle for all of us to navigate our path to second-class citizenship inside the airport and witness the Airways employees in an arrogant overdrive. An occasional pleasant experience has now become an exception.
I will narrate our experiences inside the US borders and in Europe.

In April 2022, dozen friends across the US decided to hang out in Montana for a weekend. Dr. Bill Baker is our fishing guru and led the team.
Here is a brief summation.
It is a logistical dilemma to have a Baker’s Dozen assembled in a tolerable ranch on the pristine banks of the undulating Missouri River pregnant with the spawning Brown and Rainbow trouts.
An edible dinner in LA, buoyed by drinkable wine, ushered us into an early morning flight.

The fortune predicated ominous beginnings.
Our adventures started early.
Comfortably seated in our on-time plane, we counted our blessings too early.
An “unnamed” flight crew pressed a button that “mandated” oxygen masks on a plane that was in the process of boarding.
Supplemental oxygen on the LA grounds? Pollution is getting intense!
Comedy of errors and airlines crew in their designated territorial hood of airport carefully created to stifle civil liberties swung shamelessly into full display.
After a multitude of conflicting announcements, we were asked to deplane.
The maintenance crew “miraculously” fixed the problem as hanging oxygen masks were renested in their designated safe preserve.
This much ado, however, cost us an hour, which was to be the safe harbor transit time to connect to the next plane.
Hope springs eternal, especially if rekindled by the flight crew as our plane landed within the mathematical possibility of making the connection.
Reassuringly, the crew apprised us of the welcoming serendipity of the proximate location of the next gate. The moment the plane landed, we took off with the intensity of bats from hell, hell-bent on not missing the connection.
Alas, “the proximate” gate was 1.3 miles away and shredded the aging lungs.

A few of the physicians of Kern in their 7th and 8th decade ran to catch the connecting flight and made it on time. Boarding, however, was declined because the person at the gate had yielded commonsense and service to intoxicating power trips.

The huffed requests to the rehearsed indifference of the airline staff trained in sadism is a sight.

The arrogance, the throwback on the rule book to lacerate the wounded a little more, we have degenerated!
Air travel/airports monumentalize it.
We are losing our liberty.
Airports will be an excellent place to reclaim some of the dignity back.
Abject subjugation in the name of performative security is a theater we can do without.

An hour of necessary layover extended into 8 hours as we had to catch an alternative flight from an airport two hours away. We ended 8 hours solely to the stubborn whim of an attendant who discovered the power of rules and disregarded the decency of practicality or humanity.
Where does the arbitrariness of performative rules stop and decency of commonsense prevail?
Camaraderie anyone?

We concentrated our efforts on renavigating the destination using alternative flights.
The parody of errors continued to multiply. Our luggage was “reassuredly” redirected to the new destination. Except luggage was nowhere to be found on the carousel. The airline was predictably clueless.

Luckily we had an astute law officer in our party who would join us in Helena, our original destination.
His trained eyes located a familiar piece of luggage on the conveyor belt and astutely looked for and retrieved all our luggage, sparing us from the consequences of the continued incompetence of Delta employees.
We could have been on the same plane, with the luggage, minus the hassle!

Regrettably and predictably, we had no recourse but to suffer the offshoots of compromised travel rules.
Hello Delta!
Canceled rentals and rearranged travels took us to our destination late at night with lighter wallets.
The image of those disinterested and unfriendly Delta employees with the glee of callousness in their eyes still dagger the decency we used to have.
The threat of being placed on the no-travel list compels me to hold my silence.
Liberty is overrated, right?
The weather threatened to be an intriguing challenge over the three-day spread. Between the rain, snowflakes, hailstorms, wind, clouds, and Sunshine, we covered the entire spectrum.
The tangled lines of amateur anglers failed to dampen the enthusiasm of an occasional catch. The plenty in the Missouri River seemed to more than overcompensate the substantial beginners’ deficiencies.
The pros amongst us were relentless in their successes.
Late evening fish stories primarily practiced the time-honored Fishing Commandment: Thou shall lie.
No fish was too small, no lie, too big. The camaraderie made its commandments, and the bond endures.

Adios amigos, till next time.
Travel, camaraderie, and decency need to reconnect.
Adios arrogance till forever!

– Brij

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