My own theory is that airlines have no serious chance of ending the cycle of bankruptcy as long as flight attendants continue to act surprised that people on board might pay them with a $20 rather than exact change. Watching the alarm in the eye of one this week, I was reminded of the quip about what must run through the mind of a goldfish every 10 seconds as it circles its bowl: "oh look! a castle! [10 seconds later] oh look! a castle!" But for flight attendants it is not circling the fish bowl but, rather, moving from row to row. "Oh no! A $20! [2 minutes later] Oh no! A $20!" This surprise seems to me a clue that management and personnel have no idea that this is actually a business they are running. Imagine being in WalMart and hearing a panicked cashier ask over the PA, "Has anyone got change for a $20?"
Bored with flying, on this last flight home I did engage the woman beside me in animated conversation. In response to all of her questions, I responded loudly, with a heavy, incomprehensible accent, sprinkling just a few perceptible words in the mix. I'd prattle on for a bit and then sit there with an expectant look, waiting for her to reply. As it turns out, she did not ask too many questions. This was a pity, really, because I was just getting the hang of the accent when she gave up.
My favorite moment on the flight this week was when a little guy - just under 3 - was walking to the front of the plane with his dad when he suddenly realized that we were in a contained space. "We're trapped!" he exclaimed, hands out stretched. Of course, my brief moment of amusement at his sudden revelation quickly gave way to panic when I realized he was right. Trapped at 30,000 feet.
As near as I can tell, airport security isn't doing much to make anyone feel more secure.