The joy of flight... and the air rage it can trigger 

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Note to reader: I'm on a sailboat somewhere in the appropriately named Desolation Sound area wondering when/whether summer will ever arrive in B.C. If you're reading this it's because a combination of rain, sloth and lack of cell coverage conspired to keep me from writing about lewd drag queen comedians or some equally pressing matter. Yes, it's a 12-year-old column but it underscores how far(sic) we've progressed in that time. Cheers.

I do not consider myself a violent person, indeed not even a particularly angry person. But I have a deep pool of empathy whenever I hear a story about air rage. I don't have that same empathetic feeling for tales of road rage, sports rage, boarder rage or people-talking-at-the-movies-during-the-quiet-parts rage, but the less egregious bouts of air rage I understand. There but for a obese person in the seat between me and the aisle go I.

All things considered, I'd rather drive three days straight in a closed car with a chain smoker than fly most commercial airlines.

But fly I did last week. When my mother discovered the bones in her right leg had actually been made out of recycled Twizzlers instead of hardened calcium, I decided to fly down to Phoenix and do whatever I could to aid in her recovery. She made this shocking discovery by tumbling down a hill and, according to the orthapaedic surgeon who used more hardware to put her back together than it takes to build a good sized Ikea bookshelf, "Snapped it like a dry twig."

I was thinking about air rage while I was booking my ticket on Travelocity's website. I'd never bought airline tickets directly through the Internet. I'm not even sure "Internet" was a word the last time I bought airline tickets. Everything was going ticketyboo until just after I crossed the screen of no return, the one displaying the big button saying "Purchase."

If you click on that button the next screen you see says "Sucker." No it doesn't; but it should. It does, however, say there are no circumstances known to man under which you can now change any single detail of the flight you just booked without incurring a penalty larger than the national debt of Chad, wherever that is. That warning is just above the teeny, tiny notice that Travelocity will be sending your "paper" tickets by stagecoach to a post office near you.

Calculating the odds of a website, reputed to be headquartered in a suburb of San Antonio, Texas — whose address contains those trust-building words "unit number" — having a hope in hell of getting a paper ticket up to Whistler within 10 business days when there's an intervening three day weekend of which no American is even remotely aware, make hitting this week's Lotto seem like a pretty shrewd bet.

Needless to say, the ticket didn't arrive by the time I had to leave for the airport.

I apologized in advance to Terry, the ticket guy at United's desk at Vancouver, and told him I was about to make his day, which didn't seem too hard given his day couldn't have started more than 30 minutes ago since it was only 6:30 in the morning. "No problem," Terry said with more cheeriness than anyone should have at that hour.

"No problem" to Terry apparently includes the concept of paying again for a ticket I'd already paid for once. But he did manage to get me on the same flights I'd previously booked once I assured him there was a ticket out there that definitely wasn't going to be used.

Everything was back on track and going well. At that hour, the drug dog was nowhere in sight to mistake the lingering aroma of last night's barbeque for something illicit and I breezed through U.S. Customs with no more than a wink and a smile and a few semi-legible scratches on the declaration card.



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