I am, without a doubt, a very seasoned traveler, and I love traveling, but it is certainly not for the impatient, nor the faint of heart. I can spot someone new to traveling a mile away. Everything to the travel novice is a raging catastrophe, but those of us who do this often enough aren't phased even by true catastrophes. I sat on a plane once where the turbulence was so bad that the pilot sounded nervous making announcements about what was going on. I half expected one of his announcements to begin, "Let us pray..." Maybe he was a pilot in training, and new to the air, but I really wanted to assure him that turbulence is just part of flying sometimes, and that panicing was not going to help anything. Instead, I turned up my ipod. Traveling is not for the squeamish. If you walk into it afraid, one mishap that leaves you overnight in a country where they're speaking the language of, I don't know, static on a radio, and you're completely done for. You'll be curled in the fetal position, sucking your thumb with an American flag in your hand.
Even the most patient, and long-suffering of travelers still have their moments when they've just had too many delays, or too many travel glitches and they lose the best part of their ever-loving minds. Those are the times when you're completely fine with a man with a ticking suitcase and no other luggage to get a pass on a thorough security check if it keeps the line moving. Those are the times when you'd get on a plane with a giant yellow sash that says, "student flyer," if it meant leaving on time. Those are the times that not only are you not concerned about the airline losing your luggage, but you literally hate everything you own and would happily watch it go up in flames if it meant getting the heck home. In South America, where I believe it might be illegal for a plane to leave on time, parasites, and humidity had perfomed an unauthorized lobotomy on me. Therefore, when the announcement for one of the delays explained the reason as, "blah, blah, blah...mechanical trouble with the aircraft," I still wanted to take our chances. It seemed completely reasonable to me to handle airplane trouble the same way I handle all trouble with electronics---by cutting it off, and then on, to recover the plane. Was it the wheels? Because who says we need all of them--I believed the wheel thing has been exaggerated for years. Overkill. Was it one of the wings? Because maybe it was time to make history by taking a chance flying the plane without one. Why didn't they want to be pioneers? Fortunately, I was with people who were making far more sense than I, and we never presented my sound arguments to the engineers.
I've noticed in traveling that there are some pilots who take a great deal of pride in their landing. Some land as if there will be score cards at the end of the runway. I just got off one of those planes last night, and it couldn't have been smoother. However, some pilots land as if they're on a strike that starts at "we are now beginning our descent." I swore one of the planes I was on once was being flown by a terrorist, and the landing was so horrible it begged the question,'did we just land in animation?' I do believe we were upside down at one point on the runway.
I find it almost hysterical now, but when I first began to travel I was so very interested in where people were going, and where they were from, and I would stay in conversation with strangers for nearly the entire flight. These days, if I'm not flying with loved ones, I do everything in my power to sit next to a disinterested businessman. Nothing makes me happier on a plane, then seeing some dude in a suit, wearing a watch the size of an actual clock, looking annoyed, busy, and guilty. This guy certainly won't ask me what I'm reading. We will sit by each other almost completely unaware of each other's existence--and better people for it.
Glitches aside, once you've seen a little in the world, you realize you've missed a lot, and I certainly wouldn't change a thing about what I chose in travel. Happy Travels to all!