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!