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Air travel has already hit its irritation limit

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By Larry Simoneaux
(Note: Due to a fiendish idea that's recently re-emerged from the recesses of some dank and foul pit, I'm dusting off and updating a column written more than eight years ago.)

Someone tell me that I've misunderstood the news reports.
Someone tell me to calm down because there's no way any benign entity, benevolent organization, or rational group would propose an idea like this.
Someone tell me I've got it all wrong because, if not, it appears that the Federal Communications Commission is, once again, considering allowing the use of cell phones on commercial flights.
Lord, give us strength.
It isn't bad enough that we have to play "dodge cars" every day because someone is behind the wheel, on a cell phone, and enmeshed in a discussion of last night's episode of "Survivor Whatever."
It isn't bad enough trying to enjoy a quiet meal in a restaurant while someone nearby is regaling the entire room with details of his recent colonoscopy.
It isn't bad enough being in a theater and having these pernicious devices begin "ringing" because someone forgot to turn them off.
Nope. It gets worse.
They "ring" at weddings and funerals. They "ring" during classes, meetings and recitals. They "ring" everywhere and in situations wherein you'd think that thoughtfulness, courtesy, and graciousness would prevail and prevent such disturbances from taking place.
Minor aside (1): In perhaps one case out of a bazillion, the calls made or taken in the above situations are actually necessary.
Minor aside (2): "Necessary" doesn't mean a call whose topic is: "Guess where I am?" Neither does it mean a call to pass on the details of the latest sale going on at the mall. In fact, in any of the above settings, if a call doesn't involve warnings of an imminent asteroid strike, a Richter Scale 12 earthquake, or the return of Elvis, it can wait.
I'll make a concession here. Cell phones can be useful when used with due consideration. Unfortunately, we stopped teaching consideration somewhere in the mid-1960s. That was when "do your own thing" replaced "think about others" as the mantra of many and, now, after passing this mantra on to later generations, the chickens have well and truly come home to roost.
Still, it's hard to believe that the FCC is, once again, considering allowing the use of these things on airliners.
Do remember that many airline passengers are already irritable (and willing to come to blows) because: (1) airliners are somewhere beyond noisy and uncomfortable; (2) airline seats are now designed for someone approximating the size of a Hobbit; (3) the kid who incessantly kicks seat backs is always directly behind you; and (4) the boarding process requires more intimate poking and prodding than your annual physical.
A flight attendant's job is already tough. Adding a requirement to referee the in-flight riots this proposal -- if adopted -- will engender should not be added to their duties. My guess is that, should this happen, future flight attendants will either resemble Luca Brazzi or have resumes referencing their experience as bouncers in waterfront bars.
At best, one might think that this idea is a conspiracy hatched by the government to make airline travel even more unpleasant than it already is. Such would reduce the number of travelers and simplify security since each flight would consist of only five passengers -- three of whom would be air marshals whose job it would be to keep the other two passengers from each other's throats.
Such a theory, however, is immediately refuted by remembering the old saying: "Never ascribe to malice that which can adequately be explained by stupidity."
Thus, since it's not likely that the government is trying to destroy air travel, one must conclude that the folks who offered this proposal are about two clowns short of a circus.
Still, if approved, we might consider providing in-flight cellphone users an entire section of their own. Such a section, one hopes, would be located just outboard of the number four engine on a two-engine jet.
That, to any rational and thoughtful individual, would be the appropriate solution.

Larry Simoneaux lives in Edmonds. Comments can be sent to:

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