Monday, April 7, 2008

Fame is fleeting and so are airlines

This is it. I’m done flying. Airplanes, once glamorous inventions, have turned into sky-bound nightmares.
Authors with books out sometimes must fly from one bookstore or gig to the next, and it can get old fast.
Last Thursday I boarded an aircraft that looked as if it had been recently pulled from a swamp and not washed for years. No name flashed on the tail. It must have been Cost-Cutter airlines, but was supposed to be a $1,200 flight from Greenville/Spartanburg to New York City via US Airways.
Thank the Lord I didn’t buy the ticket. I was featured for about three seconds on the Today Show after appearing in this month’s More magazine looking quite odd and in a squatting position as if I needed to pee-pee.
Soon as I boarded the abomination, a woman hollered that her seat was covered in “something wet.” I found my own cracked and filthy chair, and noticed two freshly chewed wads of hot pink gum by the seatbelt. Later in the flight, parched and starving, that gum began to look good.
After sitting on the runway for an hour delay – standard these days – the flight attendant made an announcement.
“This is a spare aircraft, and we apologize but there will be no beverage service onboard.”
For three hours, not a sip of water or a crumb of pretzel.
Same thing happened on the return flight. No beverage service - not even a pack of stale crackers. This is what twelve hundred big ones will buy you these days.
When I got home from the trip, Mama was reading the paper. She suddenly flung it as if something had attacked her.
“Did you hear about this woman in Vermont woman kicked off the plane for breastfeeding her child?” she asked. “Can you believe it?”
The incident occurred in 2006 on Delta Air Lines flight, which was operating from Burlington to New York City.
A 27-year-old woman from New Mexico claims she was discreetly nursing her 22-month-old when a flight attendant insisted she cover up with a blanket. She said she was seated next the window at the back of the aircraft and her milkers were not showing.
I couldn’t believe it. I thought we as a nation with laws on the books pertaining to the rights to breastfeed in public had gone beyond such extremes.
A ticket agent kicked the family off the flight. The poor mother said she didn’t want to make a scene and complied.
Now, granted some 22-month-old “babies” look like half grown kiddos, it’s not a shame and public disgrace to nurse one that age. If the child had been 5 or 6 and nursing with one hand and holding a Whopper Junior with the other, well…that’s different.
This was unreal. A mother wanting to give her child what pediatrician’s recommend, and a major airline booting them off the plane. Why, I’ve seen so much worse on airlines, including people making out in the back seats and getting rip-roaring drunk.
The mother filed a complaint with the Vermont Human Rights Commission, and following the news dozens of women staged a nurse-in at the airline counter.
Every year similar incidences crop up where women are nursing their kids and asked to leave. Seems more than a few people are put off by public nursing.
I remember when my daughter was about 2, and I was still breast-feeding and relatives, being proper Southern women, would question me constantly.
“When you gonna wean that child?” they’d ask a million times.
Finally, I had the perfect answer.
“When she can put four quarters in the Coke machine.”
Maybe that woman on the plane had no choice but to nurse, especially if the aircraft offered no beverage service.
I hope when my next book comes out, the people who want to hear me talk (I’m not sure why they would, but some do), I’ll be able to drive my old car with the one bad tire. Better than a plane pulled from a swamp and with zilch to eat or drink.

Susan Reinhardt is the haggard old author of four books, the last of which, "Don't Sleep with a Bubba" was named a January Magazine "Best Book of 2007." Her latest is "Dishing With the Kitchen Virgin," due any day like a late baby.
She is in this month's issue of More Magazine and was on the Today Show for 20 seconds of fame. Ha!


Beth Fehlbaum, Author said...

I laughed out loud at your line about your child being weaned when she could put quarters in the Coke machine. As a well-known comedian would say, "Now, that's just funny." Thanks for the laugh!

Beth Fehlbaum, author
Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse
Chapter One is online!

River Jordan said...

Yes, I think some of us missed the glory stage of the airline business when just showing up at the desk was glamourous. Of course, back then, publisher might have shoved me on a bus and said, Good luck and have at it. The way things are going with air travel I may request Greyhound for my next big book tour! Come join me and we'll have loads of fun rolling down the blacktop a little closer than 30,000 feet.


Kerry Madden said...

This made laugh laugh laugh! Thank you, Susan. I'm sending you an essay I wrote after getting kicked out of a bookstore for nursing Norah when she was an infant.

All best
Kerry Madden

The Pulpwood Queen said...

Thank God for you Susan! You are the light at the end of the tunnel, the breath of fresh air, and as far as I'm concerned the Book "IT" Girl! You get it and you make it funny! I miss you and hope we can get you back to Pulpwood Queen Country real soon!
Reminds me of the time the whole family went to Disney World for Christmas on a certain airline! Coming back they would not let one of us board as she had put her driver's license in her bag (on the plane) and would not let her board without it! My husband and her husband approached the flight attendant explaining they could vouch for her. He immediately yelled rather sternly, "Step back sirs, step away. Further action will make me call security." The whole family then told this man, with too much power, that how would she ever get on a plane if her driver's license was in her bag in the holding area. The license was headed home and she would then have no way to get it.
It all worked out fine as over the intercom it was announced, "Attention, please send in flight clean-up crew immediately, Code Five in First Class" or something to that effect. Evidently my nephew who had already boarded the plane, was car sick from the bus ride to the airport, and threw up all down the first class cabin area. The flight was delayed by 40 minutes therefore the crew was able to retrieve Aunt Bev's bag for her driver's license.
I bet many other reader's have even worse flight stories and that is why I drove on my book tour!
Flying is as far as I concerned is like they always say, for the birds!
You are the best ever!
The Pulpwood Queen

Heather said...

Thank goodness we have some public decency left. There are so many alternatives to attempting to breast-feed in public. I always just think those women must be the world's poorest planners. And, anyway, is it so hard to obey federal regulations by complying with the instructions of your flight crew and covering up??

viagra online said...

it's incredible that a airline could be soo ridiculous, specially with that prices, what is that first class? geez!!!