Thursday, December 13, 2007

Yes, Taze Me, Bro!

These days, being an airline pilot can be a lot like working in a discount department store.

Huh? What could being an airline pilot and working in a discount department store possibly have in common?

Glad you asked that question.

K-mart. Wal-Mart. Target. Take your pick. With few differences, they provide a certain level of product and a certain level of service. They're not Macy's and they're not Neiman-Marcus.

When one goes to a discount department store, the expectations are generally where they should be - low. The beauty of discount department stores is their egalitarian nature.

Though the average K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Target shopper tends to be lower to middle-class, these stores, especially the mega-versions like Sam's Club, BJ's, and Costco, have something to offer folks across the socio-economic spectrum.

For a time when the The Flying Curmudgeon was in college, he worked as a cashier at the local K-Mart. (Sam Walton had yet to penetrate the market.) Ringing up the sales from yet another "Blue-Light Special," TFC could have been doing research for a Masters thesis in sociology. He came into contact with poor people, rich people, and everyone in between.

One day, a rather large woman, trailing her conversely diminuitive husband, approached TFC's register. With a large, sweeping motion and a loud "THUD," this woman deposited something on his counter that previously, The Flying Curmudgeon did not know even existed.

It was a brassiere.

It was a large brassiere - a HUGE brassiere. This bra was so large, two regulation NBA basketballs would have fit inside the cups, with room to spare.

To the 19-year-old future TFC, this came as quite a shock. He had no idea they made bras that large. Upon seeing this lacy, delicate contraption, of such gargantuan proportions - deposited so loudly by this rotund woman onto the checkout counter, her skinny little husband at her side - The Flying Curmudgeon was overcome with a tidal wave of laughter.

In a matter of seconds, the guffawing took on a life of its own and TFC was soon howling uncontrollably.

Mr. and Mrs. "LARGE BRASSIERE" did not share TFC's sense of the ironic, and they stood there - glaring - their faces frozen in expressionless masks of pique.

TFC's boss also didn't share his sense of humor. The Flying Curmudgeon was quickly sent home for the day, his boss apologizing profusely to the offended couple.

Okay. What does any of this have to do with being an airline pilot?

In the three decades since deregulation, much of the domestic flying in the United States has taken on the feel of shopping in a discount department store.

With ever-shrinking margins, the airlines are constantly looking at ways to cut costs and to boost revenue. Some carriers have taken to charging extra for sevices that used to be complimentary. Tried to get an exit-row seat lately? Depending on which airline you fly, it'll cost you.

If this keeps up, air travelers might want to ensure they have an adequate supply of quarters, before starting towards the aircraft's lavatory.

As he walks through airport terminals, and greets passengers as they board, one thing is also becoming increasingly clear to The Flying Curmudgeon - decades of permissive parenting has created a couple generations of kids like the one in the video above.

More than once over the years, TFC has come close to denying boarding to a family with disruptive teens. Earlier this year, a family was asked to leave an AirTran flight because they couldn't control their daughter.

The Flying Curmudgeon is going to go out on a limb and suggest that Mr. "Don't Taze Me, Bro!" in the video above probably never had his butt worn out as a child.

A good spanking when he was nine or ten would have spared Mr. Andrew Meyer the later jolting he received at the hands of the University of Florida campus police. In the airline incident above, a couple of well-aimed swats to the butt cheeks would have spared the Kuleszas, the airline, and their fellow passengers a lot of trouble.

Their little darling would have been no worse for the wear.

How is it, after thousands of years of recorded human history, because 50 years ago one misguided doctor (Benjamin Spock) told us to, we tossed out a system that worked?

Like so many other baby boomers, the elder Mr. and Mrs. Meyer, and the Kuleszas obviously "...don't believe in spanking..."

For the Meyers, the result is the words of their son, of whom they must be so very proud, forever immortalized into a bumper sticker slogan: "Don't Taze Me, Bro!"

The Kuleszas will have the privilege of dealing with "Little Elly," when she is a teenager.

God help them.


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