, Newburyport, MA


October 27, 2010

The Mother Load: For me, travel really is a laughing matter


For example, recently I was on an overbooked flight where space was so tight that two people practically had to become intimate in order to pass in the aisle. I told the man who carefully shimmied by me on this way back from the restroom that in some cultures, we would now be considered engaged. (He didn't get the joke either.)

But that wasn't even the funny part. What I really found amusing was when, after a long bout of turbulence, the pilot made this announcement: "Ladies and gentlemen, I've turned off the seat-belt sign, so you are now free to move about the cabin. Just a reminder, though, to avoid standing in the aisle or milling about the restroom area."

I had to wonder: What other choices are there on an airplane? I mean, where else can one "move about"? (Not near the cockpit, that's for sure. They get very testy about that these days.)

On that same flight, I was amused by a sign on the door at the rear of the aircraft that said: "For Emergency Use Only." I was so glad that they clarified that! Because I was thinking of opening that door a crack to get some fresh air.

In truth, if the airline is going to post such a sign, I would prefer some elaboration. For example, a sign that says, "For Emergency Use Only WHILE ON THE GROUND" would have been reassuring, especially with the added explanation: "When in the air, DO NOT EXIT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES."

I get a chuckle from a similar "Emergency Exit Only" sign on the bus that I sometimes take into Boston. This time, the warning is printed on an escape hatch cut into the roof. I wonder: Did riders really need reminding that this exit should only be used in an emergency? Did the bus company have a problem because so many people were exiting through the roof?

As I say, maybe nobody else finds this funny. I have sort of a weird sense of humor.

Perhaps I have spent more time than I realize in the Twilight Zone.

• • •

Nancy Crochiere works as an editor for a college textbook publisher and, in her spare time, tries to write humorously about modern family life. You can e-mail her in care of

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