I’m on vacation with my family. Today we were scheduled to fly from Baltimore to Newark to Beijing to begin our journey.
Don’t let that photo fool you, we never made it to Beijing. That’s an ad on the New York City subway selling health insurance.
We heard a magical sentence at Newark “Liberty” International Airport that few fliers get to take advantage of:
“*kssh* We are in an overbooking situation. United Airlines is looking for four volunteers to go on tomorrow’s flight. You will receive an $800 travel voucher good for one year, and a hotel room.
Sweet baby Jesus, make it rain!
As if renaming Washington National Airport after the president that broke the air traffic controller’s union wasn’t enough, Newark dared to lay claim to the entire concept of individual agency and self-determination. In the not-so-distant future, patriotic Americans will fly out of Spokane Freedom International on their way to Roanoke Second Amendment Regional Airport or something equally absurd.
Anyway, most travelers would have averted the gaze of the prowling airline staff, desperately hoping some other sucker would march to the denied boarding abattoir instead of them. Luckily for them, there are folks like my family, who are loath to check bags and love funding future travel for the price of a night at a hotel room we didn’t have to pay for in New York, a city that we love.
The baggage handlers were so ecstatic at not having to fish out a bumped passenger’s checked bag of lead weights and cement blocks from the very rear of the cargo hold that for one brief, shining moment they didn’t look aggrieved at the never-ending presence of infernal luggage.
These children, and many more like them at the 9/11 memorial, likely had no memory of the event at all. Children born today have the same distance from 9/11–12 years–than my birth did from the start of the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979. It is to them what the Iranian Hostage Crisis was for our generation, something that happened sometime between my parents meeting and possibly the sacking of Carthage. Either way, it was a long time ago.
We Millenials are now Old, where children will soon graduate from high school with no personal memories of 9/11, the formative event of our time.
Beijing is for tomorrow. What better way to lead into a visit to Real China than a United Airlines-funded trip to America’s finest China theme park, New York City Chinatown? The land of egg tarts and barbecue pork, the great lodestar of hungry ethnically Chinese immigrants and their American-born, chopstick-wielding hair-dying grad-schooling offspring? (I have not dyed my hair.)