Saturday, February 07, 2004
The cross-country airline ticket that got you on the flight cost nearly $400, and if you take home that much a week, you make about 30 grand a year. Four hundred dollars is a lot of money to you, and it should be to more folks, you think as you fasten your seatbelt.

This is American Airlines, headquartered in Dallas of the South. Where they killed JFK in 1963, more than four decades ago. The South moves in mysterious ways. You don’t mess with it too much.

You admit that events that happen between New York and San Francisco are pretty much rumors to you. Or they have asterisks next to them. Even Chicago, you think, is all the way in the middle, away from the coastal tidal pulls.

When the kids assassinated their classmates in Colorado, it was like TV carnage to you. Million-dollar schools with million-dollar problems. Bullies picking on kids, and kids saying, ‘Fuck this. I’ve had enough.’

That was way in there that it happened, in Colorado. A lot of white folks and religion up in them hills, where people talk about ZOG and Ruby Ridge and getting back to how it was meant to be.

Like Dixie in the mountains.

Big country, this old lady is, and there's a lot to do. Just look around, you think, and you’ll meet a million different people. Taste new foods, hear diverse tales. You even read a study about how South American and Japanese American mothers raise their children, the article full of the Woody Allen words like didactic and acculturation.

They say it’s a melting pot, but the studies also show that it’s really not. We live among our own, and that doesn’t mean our fellow citizens. It means we marry, live among and drink beer with people who tend to look like us, come from where we do, and have about the same amount of education.

Make sense now, don’t it? Now make dollars.

Up in the American Airlines flight from New York to California, the pilot rambles in his usual honeyed voice about altitude and winds to the south and all that other bullshit that makes not a damn bit of difference to you. You can’t hear it anyway, with all the background noise in the cockpit. Like a window’s open.

But a word catches your ear, at the same time the woman in the seat next to you puts up her hand along with a majority of other folks on the plane.


You ask her why she and they are raising their hands. You say to her, ‘you guys,’ when asking, even though she is not a male.

‘The pilot asked all the Christians on the flight to raise their hands.’

You … what … he …

The grandfatherly voice comes over the white noise again:

It advises the non-Christians on the flight to talk to the people with their arms in the air.

They are testifying, you think, and American Airlines is like the rest of America, relentlessly trying to turn us all into the same thing.

The headache is blistering and the stale whiskey is caked to your mouth when you wake up three hours later in Los Angeles.

You think it was a dream, that the pilot of your captive audience – you didn’t have the option of walking away, isn’t that illegal – was proselytizing, telling you about Eucharists and the like. God, what if he was taking them all to meet God.

That’s religious terrorism, whether the plane crashes into a building or not. You shuffle off the plane, catching a glimpse of the cockpit. Two white men in there.

You don’t know it at the time, but each successive time you board a flight, it’ll cross your mind that the white man in the cockpit may be ready to meet who he thinks is his maker.

Maybe try a different airline next time.


A cold beer sounds good to wash this crap taste out of your mouth. And then a shower and sleep. You still have your health, and you can think for yourself still.

It was a close one, but you made it.
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