I had a horrible nightmare last night in which I stood in a line that seemed to extend forever. Naturally, I was at the end of this snakelike queue which shuffled forward in a morose silence. Each of us carried baggage strapped to our backs and each of us pushed a suitcase.
Slowly, slowly, the line inched forward until there appeared before us a single conveyor belt. On it we were instructed to place our luggage, our shoes, our coats, our socks, and our hats. We were then given paper robes to wear while we placed our clothes on the conveyor belt.
No one objected, and at last, clothed and shoed once more, we were ushered into a brightly lit room which reverberated with blared announcements. “Flight 9876 has been cancelled. All the passengers booked on this flight should proceed to Gate 98A,” and “Flight 09873 has been delayed for three hours due to a missing pilot,” and “There has been a slight error.All the luggage from Flight 48720 to Madrid has been rerouted to Greenland National airport…”
This being a nightmare, no sooner had these announcements pealed through the waiting room but we were boarding a plane. As we boarded, we were instructed to pay for our suitcases, our carry-ons, and for each item of clothes we were wearing (including socks).We were then directed to our seats by an officious robot which sported a large computer in its torso. “Mrs. Feversome, you are booked on Economy6-,” it burbled. “Please go to the end of the plane where you will be strapped into your upper hammock for the journey. Miss Haggard, you are in Economy2+. Please be aware that you will be sharing half of your seat during this flight with Mr. Fleasworthy. During half of the flight you will be strapped into a lower hammock at the end of the aircraft.”
The robot then turned to me. “You are listed as Economy+4. You will be sharing your seat with Mrs. Tillihammer…”
My seat was triangular in shape and wedged into a long row of triangular seats. When I attempted to sit, my knees stuck up to the chin.
The robot proceeded to instruct us further. “Please be advised that using the facilities will incur the cost of $1 per visit. Washing hands will cost $.50. Your credit cards will be charged accordingly.” A pause. “Refreshments during this flight are as follows: The sandwich pill is $18, the roast beef and salad pill is $35, and the vegetarian pill is $25.”
“Pills?” I wondered. The lady wedged next to me sighed.
“Honey, where have you been? They only serve those awful food pills these days. How could we possibly eat anything else… like this?”
She had a point.
The plane began its ascent. I thought longingly of the days when cheerful stewards offered us drinks, pillows and blankets. I thought of in-flight movies. I thought of magazines, and electronic games, and the days when sailing above the clouds had been fun.
Perhaps I slept (one can actually sleep in a nightmare). When I awoke, I realized that I would need to incur the cost of a dollar. Peeling out of my seat and negotiating the foot-wide aisle was difficult, and for some unforeseen reason I found myself in another part of the aircraft.
For behold, I stood in a large, airy room lined with couches on which passengers sprawled or slept or were entertained by holographic movies. Robots trundled around pushing carts laden with filet mignon, Atlantic salmon, caviar, truffles, wine, spirits, and champagne. One robot mixed salad for a client. Another was giving someone a body massage. Music wafted softly through the compartment.
First class… of course, first class! As an irate robot approached to order me back to my shared seat in Economy+4, I woke up muttering, “Plus si change…”
The more things change, the more they remain depressingly the same!
Flying above clouds
Should be a true adventure…