Friday, March 5, 2010

Let kids land all the planes

So far, not a single life has been lost with 5 year olds running New York City air traffic control. I say let’s turn the whole thing over to the kids and just see what happens.

If ever there was an industry that could benefit from a jolt of levity, it’s the uptight airlines.

Have you flown commercial in the past 10 years? It’s oppressive enough to make an interstate trip aboard Greyhound’s rolling penitentiaries seem jovial. There’s endless lines, delays and invasive security measures administered by joyless automatons who look like the only thing that would enrich their routines would be the opportunity to Tase a sassy grandmother.

It’s hard to believe this is the same discipline that produced men like Chuck Yeager, Gus Grissom and other iconic pilots from “The Right Stuff.”

There used to be swagger and flair about people associated with airlines. Now, one father is in danger of losing his job because he, a proud papa, brought his children into JFK’s tower and let them dent the day’s monotony by issuing some orders over the mic.

They didn’t direct traffic or ad lib instructions for evasive maneuvers. It was all “Roger” this, “Roger” that, and “over and out” sort of word play.

One air traffic controller said it was the equivalent of letting your child hit the “send” button on an e-mail after you’ve composed the message. At no time was anyone in any danger.

In fact, it sounded to me that hearing the child’s voice was a pleasant surprise to the all the pilots. They didn’t sound as mechanical as they usually do.

And they didn’t sound frightened or weary. I didn’t hear one of them say, “My God . . . did you hear that? There are children directing planes from the air traffic control tower! Children! We’re all gonna die! Help! Mommy! Help!!!”

Instead of criticizing the frivolity, the FAA should have seized the opportunity to point out that all the professionals involved, both in the air and the tower, seemed to have been wide awake and sober.

That’s a reassuring trend regarding recent news about air travel.

Me, drunk or asleep is the only way I’d be able to conform to the rigid standards we’re applying to every aspect of air travel.

I suspect the hysteria is orchestrated as part of a plan to replace all humans involved in flying planes with robots as soon as possible. In fact, the process may have already begun.

As proof, I offer exhibit A: Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger.

He’s a bona fide hero, but I haven’t seen him betray a single human emotion. No fear. No joy. No passion. I can’t even recall his eyelids ever closing in a single reflexive blink. His is a buckle that’s never been swashed.

And that’s exactly what the airlines want. They don’t want anyone betraying any feeling that might indicate the presence of a pulse. No one is allowed to deviate from the carefully prepared script.

I suspect it’s too many grown-ups who’re ashamed that they used to get high in the 1960s and ‘70s in ways that didn’t involve wings. They’re overcompensating for the sin by trying to ensure that the rest of us never have even a little bit of fun.

Me, I’m thrilled any time some tiny human emotion is injected into a stoic situation dominated by grown ups.

I believe it’s important for any sensible adult to give into whimsy and let their inner kid out for frequent silliness.

Life’s way too serious and punishing controllers for permitting some harmless fun is only going to make it worse. Parents will be afraid to indulge in creative play with the kids. Our children will be grow up stilted by an irrational fear of fun.

Well, that’s not going to happen with me.

I’ll do everything I can to encourage my darling daughters to explore and grow in ways that’ll ensure the endearing kernals of youth grow without stunting restrictions, professional ethics be damned.

Until then, I’m over and out.

(See, I let the 9-year-old type that last line.)


Jinksy said...

I believe it’s important for any sensible adult to give into whimsy and let their inner kid out for frequent silliness.


Chris Rodell said...

I could have guessed that about a woman who likes to be called Jinksy! Thanks!

shrink on the couch said...

The stress of flying is the only thing that keeps me from becoming bitter about the woeful lack of vacation travel in my life. The ONLY thing. Ok, well that and cholera.

Chris Rodell said...

phd in yogurtry, what should I call you? Dr. 'gurt? Doc? Doc Yog?

How about friend. Sounds good to me!

Thanks for your comment. Sorry I didn't respond more promptly. I agree with you, too. Travel, especially, by plane is an enormous burden. Too many people devote too much time to going to places that are too much like home.

Might as well stay in and relax with a good book. Sounds like heaven to me.