Thursday, November 4, 2010

On Travelling,

I've been neglecting the blog because (a) I've been swamped with work, and (b) on the road (I was Sleepless in Stockholm last week). This post reflects the last problem and isn't about technical writing at all.

Vogel's Advice for Travelers
  1. If you can't lift your carry-on luggage over your head, it's not carry-on. Check it. When I get on the plane I have a single goal: To get to my seat. That someone in front of me is holding up the line because he/she/it can't get their enourmous suitcase up to the luggage bin drives me crazy. I appreciate that you don't want to be inconve nienced by having to wait for for checked baggage. That doesn't give you permission to inconvenience everyone else. And I won't discuss the hale and hearty looking man in Frankfurt who had so overloaded his carry-on bag that he couldn't even get it up onto the customs inspection table. 
  2. Dress for travel. I'm not talking about comfortable clothes: I'm talking about metal. Don't wear the belt with the metal buckle the size of your head (overcompensating for something?). Don't wear the metal spangly belt with the clasp, apparently, that you can't work (I'm talking to the woman ahead of me in line in Stockholm). If you're flying in the US, you will have to take off your shoes also: slip-ons are appropriate. Speaking of metal: You'll be standing in line to go through the X-ray for some time. Why not grasp the opportunity to remove some of the metal from your pockets (loose change, smartphone) and put it in that HONKING BIG SUITCASE YOU'RE DRAGGING.
  3. Summing up the previous two items: Keep moving. We're all trying to get somewhere and, even in the nicest airports, we're still crowded. Since airlines are, apparently, trying to save money by having us walk most of the way to our destinations by putting the departure gates half-way out of town, we're probably in a hurry, too. Once in the planes we're really crowded. Don't stop. If you're confused, keep moving--the odds are good that, by moving on, you'll gather more information that will help you with your problem. If you need to stop, step to the side. DO NOT come to a complete halt directly in front of me. DO NOT, as the three young men at the end of the moving walkway in Toronto did, stop because one of you has dropped his jacket thereby blocking the person behind them with a suitcase so that she was trapped on the landing pad at the end of the walkway. Leaving, of course, no room, for all the rest of us being moved inexorably towards the end of the walkway.
  4. Pay attention. I recognize that, as an English speaking person, I have an advantage: I speak everyone's second language. I do not expect you to know the language of whatever country you're in. I do expect you to pay attention to what's going on around you. Look ahead to the people in front of you. See what they're doing? Odds are good you'll have to do that also. And if you do speak English or the language of the country you're in: Listen to the instructions.
  5. On an overseas flight, if you have bladder issues do NOT take the window seat. Take the aisle. I have the bladder of a sixteen year old and I take the aisle seat. Recognize your limitations.
One last thing: If you're sitting to the left of me when the meal comes remember that I wanted the aisle seat. I'm also left-handed. Get used to it.

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