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Fly me to the moon, but on Earth, I'll be driving

November 23, 2010|By TIM ROWLAND | timr@herald-mail.com
  • Tim Rowland
Tim Rowland

Remember the good old days when "over the river and through the woods" referred to a holiday journey and not a Transportation Security Administration pat-down technique?

If you're flying somewhere for Thanksgiving, I feel for … I mean I can understand your frustration. You don't know if you're boarding a plane or auditioning for a role in "On Golden Blonde."

Are you going home for the holidays, or are you just happy to see me? Goodness, I thought driving on Thanksgiving was bad. But at least you know that toll collector isn't going to be reaching for your giblets.

Really, a turkey that's getting plucked and disemboweled is in only slightly worse shape than an airline passenger who gets radiated, poked and prodded by government inspectors, who then send you off to be tightly packed in an aluminum container. They do everything but stamp you USDA Choice.

A TSA spokesman acknowledged the discomforts, but said: "If we are to detect terrorists, who have again proven innovative and creative in their design and implementation of bombs that are going to blow up airplanes and kill people, then we have to do something that prevents that."

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Maybe those are words of wisdom. Or maybe they are words of a fellow who enjoys his job a little too much. It sounds less like public policy than it does a pickup line at a bar. "…If I am to detect terrorists that blow up airplanes and kill people, then you have to come back to my place."

I was trying to remember the last time I flew (on an airplane) and had trouble coming up with an answer. That's partly because of an aging memory and partly because if there isn't an ocean between myself and my destination, it's just easier to drive. And I'm talking about a large ocean, too. Otherwise it's less trouble to wade.

There used to be some kind of legitimate formula to determine when it was better to drive than fly. It seems to me that if your destination was fewer than 500 miles away, flying wasn't worth the hassle. And that was before the long arms and fingers of the TSA came along. Now, I'm thinking that driving would be better in every situation that didn't involve the word "intergalactic."

Last month we went to Maine; we drove. Next spring we're going to Alabama; we'll drive. In fact, it never even occurred to us to even discuss the possibility of flying. Why ruin a perfectly good trip?

I'll say this, though, the airline industry has done one thing that I never thought I would see. It has given the nation's goobers and weirdos a legitimate platform on which to appear normal, or even desirable. Really, if you feel a good, full-blown freakout coming on, just do it at an airport, and no one's going to criticize you for it.

You can pop a beer on the way down the emergency chute, or you can go on a YouTube tirade about your "junk." Do this anywhere else in America and they take you away in a wire bus. But do it at an airport and not only is it considered normal, but you've punched your own ticket to commercial endorsements and an appearance on "The Tonight Show."

Of course now, you have to be a little strange to go to the airport in the first place.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via e-mail attimr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant video under opinion@herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 at 6:30 p.m. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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