by Linus

It has come to my attention recently, (primarily because I talk to myself and so I told myself this), that a majority of people are not cut out for travel.  Now, this doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t leave their house (although in some cases that is an excellent strategy to follow), they just don’t seem to be prepared to leave for extended periods of time.  In addition to my commute from home to work and back using the worst company in the world (Long Island Rail Road), to my extensive use of airlines due to my business travel, I have the joy displeasure of being witness to many people who seem to struggle with a seemingly easy task…getting from point A to point B.  Allow me to share with you some of the interesting stupid people I’ve run across during my travels.

The tourist – First we’ll start with some of the morons who ride the Long Island Rail Road.  If you’re unfamiliar with my love affair with the LIRR, you can read about it here and here.
The first rule you should follow is that if you don’t know where you’re going, you should ask someone.  A few months ago a woman got on the train at Penn and she had to go to Mineola.  Now this was around 8.30pm so it was a local train, which meant she was in for around a 40 minute or so ride.  When she gets on and sits across from me, does she ask me how far, how many stops, how long the ride will be to Mineola?  No.  When the conductor comes by to collect the tickets, does she ask him?  No.  Does she grab a map from Penn or use her smart phone to look at a map online to see how long the ride will be?  No.  Does she proceed to talk on her phone for the entire ride?  Yes.  Does she then freak out when we pull into Jamaica Station (which is the first stop after Penn) because the thinks she missed her stop because she has no idea where we are because she couldn’t hear the 15 announcements telling everyone what stops the train makes?  Yes.  Is this woman cut out for travel?  No.

The rolling suitcase person – If you’ve ever been to Penn Station, you’ll know that it is pretty much the last place anyone would want to spend any substantial time.  If you’re looking to see 250,000 people moving as fast as they can at all times, come to Penn during rush hour.  When we get to Penn in the morning, we leave the train and try to either hit the streets, or the subway’s as fast as possible, and when we arrive at Penn in the evenings, we try to rush to the platform, so we can stand like zombies waiting for our train, as fast as possible.  What slows us down?  The answer is the second person you do not want to be…and that is the person who walks with their rolling suitcase/briefcase behind them.  If they have a traditional suitcase, it is almost a guarantee they have no idea where they are going, and instead of following the crowd like a smart person, they walk as slow as possible trying to read and decipher all the signs to figure out best where to go, somehow not knowing that we are all trying to go to the same place.  If the person has a rolling briefcase, well this is a special kind of person.  This person could be a local, probably in some kind of sales, more than likely middle aged, probably immune to the outside world, but definitely an idiot that needs to be quarantined.  When you have a crowd of people all moving in unison, say approaching a staircase, and all of a sudden 1 person decides to stop at the top of the stairs to lower the handle on their portable desk so they can carry it down the stairs, only to stop again at the bottom of the stairs to lengthen the handle on their portable desk, what do you think that does to the crowd of people all moving in unison?  You do not want to be this person and if Darwinism ruled, you would probably get pushed down the stairs…but for some reason that doesn’t happen and so you always seem to be in front of me as I head down to catch the 7 train…*sigh*.

The rules don’t apply to me person – The Long Island Rail Road is one of the only transportation systems that doesn’t require you to pay before boarding.  They place a lot of trust and responsibility in their riders (this could potentially be why it is such a screwed up company) and so naturally, this may cause a problem or two.  To put it into perspective, it costs around $300/month for my monthly ticket, and when you divide that by 30 days, to keep the math easy we will say it costs around $10 to ride the train.  If you don’t buy the monthly ticket, and choose to buy on board, it will cost you more, let’s say around $20 for 1 ride.  Now since we are located near New York City, you can appreciate that $20 is not really that much money, yet you would be shocked with the number of people who don’t seem to have that much on them, and thus try to ride the train for free.  The other day a woman got on at Jamaica and when the conductor went to collect her ticket, she handed him her ticket and he said he couldn’t accept it, she asked why, and he said “because it expired 2 years ago.”   2 years ago!  This woman had been carrying around that ticket for 2 years!  But worse, she tried to pass it off to the conductor.  When he said she would need to buy a ticket, all hell broke loose.  She went on a rant for the ages.  She accused him of being a racist, of purposely charging her higher prices than anyone else on the train, and basically causing such a scene, that the conductor eventually just left…letting her ride the train for free.  I guess the conductor didn’t know that the rules didn’t apply to her…geeez.

In spite of all this, the train continues to operate at the junior varsity level.  If you want to really see some pro’s, head to the airport.

If I was a comedian (insert your own joke here), I could just observe people going through the security line at the airport and have enough material to make a decent living.  When you are in an unfamiliar place, announcements can sometimes be your best friend.  Take for example someone going through security at the airport, and maybe there are announcements that tell you what you can and can’t take through the security gates, and maybe you should listen to them.  More often than not, you dress yourself in the morning, so you should know whether or not you have a belt on when you go through security, and since the announcement just told you to “remove all belts before going through security”, is there any special reason why you are leaving yours on?  When the announcement says “please remove all shoes”, is there any reason why you are leaving yours on?  When the announcement says “remove everything from your pocket”, why do you leave stuff in your pocket?  For some reason, when people leave their house, their hearing seems to diminish.

Once they actually get on the plane, things don’t improve.  You know those announcements the flight attendants make, the ones about stepping into your seat instead of standing in the aisle while you shove your oversized bag into the overhead compartment…those are directed at you.  I purposely choose to sit in the back of the plane, and once I encountered a flight attendant who was feeling kind of spry, so she actually made an announcement that started off as the generic “please move into your row to allow others to pass”, but then she actually said “will the woman in the blue top and jeans please move in to allow others to pass”, and not surprisingly, the woman didn’t move.  It wasn’t out of disrespect, it’s just that no one listens.  Why you ask?  Because that woman is not cut out for travel.

You would think that once people actually sit down in their seats, things would improve…no.  To the person who likes to recline their chair all the way back so they can sleep, you are not at home, this is not your lazy boy, there is actually someone sitting behind you, and he is 6’4″ and he does not want your head in his lap, so wake up do like everyone else does, recline your chair about 20-25% of the way it goes and we’ll get along just fine…otherwise be prepared for me to get up and accidentally dump my water on your head…ooops, it was an accident.

On a quick side note — to the family who actually decided to bring a bag of onion bagels on the JetBlue flight from JFK to Ft. Myers…are you kidding me?  Have you smelled how potent onion bagels are?  Do you realize you are in a confined space for the next 3 hours?  What planet did you grow up in that it is ok to bring something as pungent as onion bagels onto an airplane?  Wherever that place is, please go back.

The point here is this, 95% of the people in this world should not leave their house, for any reason.  There is no need to go to the grocery store, fresh direct will come to you.  There is no need to travel, chances are the people you are going to see don’t want to see you.  There’s no need to go to work, you can work from home now…don’t you have an iPhone that gets work email?  But if you do need to go out for whatever reason, just remember 2 rules:

Common sense is king, and everything in moderation.