13 February 2009

Travelers and IQ

Yesterday, I flew from Buffalo to San Francisco. And during the whole trip, there were a few incidents that made it rather interesting.

First, it started with the lady that was before us in the security line. The way she was dressed made it look like she never flew before. Did she know that her bangles, her large hoop earrings, her chains on her wrists, her necklaces, all that metal would set off the alarm really hard? I bet if she did not remove those pieces of metal from her body, the whole alarm system would go and have a synchronized “PINGGGG!!!” It was insane. It took her a long long time to pass security, and she held up the line, including us, which was following her. She even had the TSA agent help her with unlatching her necklace! That lady’s travel IQ is indeed low.

Anyway, that was the first one.

The second one involves an eavesdropped conversation between two men. We were waiting in Atlanta International Airport for our flight to San Francisco. The two men were discussing boarding procedures, and how they think it is insane that the whole boarding process is done that way. They thought that Zone 1 was First Class, when indeed it wasn’t. They also were disappointed that they didn’t get upgraded due to the fact that the flight was very full. Anyway, it was all whining and that sort of stuff.

Now, another interesting one involves another eavesdropped conversation in Atlanta Airport as well. We got some food while waiting for our flight. Now the table next to us sat a rather middle-aged man, very tanned, quite slick in his use of money, and in front of him was this late twenties Southern girl. As their conversation went, it seemed that they were having a long-distance affair. The guy is from the Northeast, and he was talking to the girl about his wife, where they met and all that, while the girl is from another part of the country, and they were planning their next meeting together. During the whole conversation, I couldn’t help but think whether the girl’s brain was actually functioning, because it was so clear that the guy was sweet-talking her.

Anyway, those were some of the fun and interesting stories so far that this trip had in store for me. It was rather a little disconcerting, but not in a bad way, that this is one of the rare trips I have in which I have company in the airplane. I suppose last year, I traveled with my adviser when we were flying back from Raleigh to Buffalo, but that was still business talk. We were talking all along in the plane of academic stuff.

This time, it is different. Even though I have a friend with me, which is also giving a talk in the conference, we weren’t discussing academics at all. We completed a crossword puzzle, we had an experience of semantic priming in the aircraft screen, and I pointed out a plane that was carrying my people.

Anyway, I should end this post here. I am tired and I need to go to sleep.

(Embassies of Togo and Sudan, from my Embassy Row Series)


  1. Laughing out loud about that lady with the bangles! :)

    Pareho tayo... we also people watch and inject stories and dialogues about people sitting in restaurants and airports. :)

  2. Toe,

    Hay naku totoo. Inis na inis ako doon sa babaeng yun. As if hindi nag-iisip na mag-a-alarm yung outfit niya. Hindi ginagamit ang utak eh.

  3. I like observing people in airports as well :-)

    The jewelery thing is indeed a bit dumb but on the other side, I find all those security screening crazy. Take off your shoes, don´t bring any liquids, no food, no metal, no lighters etc. Sometimes I wonder what you can fly with!

    I know security is important but I feel like the USA and several other countries have gone way too far. Flying is everything but enjoyable there.

  4. Zhu,

    I agree. Flying isn't enjoyable here in the USA. When I was a kid, I was so excited whenever I would be flying. The whole experience was just sensory overload for a child. However, now, whenever I would go to an airport, I don't have the same feeling anymore. I am still excited to go to places I haven't been before, but the prospect of taking my shoes off, screening my stuff, that takes the fun out of things.