Life on the Road – Cats, Cold and More

My job takes to a lot of places and I love that part of it. Seeing the country and gaining the experiences is something I love to do. There is an old saying about the journey being a big part of the fun. I cannot agree more.

Some of these travel posts are going to sound like complaining. I assure you, they are (probably) not. They are really about the funny stuff I get to see. It’s humorous story telling that may (or may not) embellish a tiny little bit. All of it is based in truth though, and only the details might be, um… “enhanced” a bit.

Having said that, let me give you a little background. I am an airline snob. I admit it. I don’t care much about the hotels I stay in, or the dinners I eat, but I do care about the airline experience. I hate being rushed, I am dismayed by the fact that people often revert to Lord of The Flies like behavior when it comes to air travel.

Take for example the carry on baggage rules. 1 personal item and 1 carry on item. The carry on item is limited in size (stuff it in this box over here and see), but the personal item seems to be magically unimpaired by size restrictions, or at least the rules are unknown and unenforced. I see folks with bags bigger than my checked bag going onboard as a “personal item”. The other thing is animals.

Get These @#&! animals off the @#&! Plane!

Yeah, there was a time when animals travelled in crates in the belly of the plane. Now, it seems, they are everywhere. Comfort dogs, pot-bellied pigs, and worst of all… CATS!

Now, I like cats, but folks, 30,000 ft and 600mph is no place for a feline. Southwest Airlines seems to gather more than it’s fair share of animals. Yesterday was a perfect example. I was going from Tampa to Columbus. I normally avoid Southwest when I can, as I hate the open seating thing, but it was the only direct flight. I get on board as part of the “A” group and take my customary window seat. This was about row 10. Now, with an entire plane full of empty seats, I am joined by a couple with a lovely blue carry-on containing a rather unhappy looking tabby. It’s eyes gleamed yellow out of the mesh on the ends of the soft-sided carrier. For some reason, it looked right at me, right in to my soul. I was scared. Terrified really. I believe my very life was being weighed by that creature (That was likely called something cute, like Fluffy, or Tom, or Mr. Tinkles). For a reason I have yet to understand, I believe the cat blamed me for its current predicament, and it wasn’t happy.

It looked meaner in person!

Why these people decided to sit beside me, in a barely filled plane is still beyond me, but I wasn’t going to move. I was trapped in my windows seat, and any chance of escape involved passing the pointy parts of the Hell-spawn in the seat beside me. I just tried to avoid eye contact.

Another thing that Southwest does well is cater to families. That means children, and children are magically attracted to my part of the plane (whatever part that happens to be), especially when they are going to act up. This was no exception. Little Tommy, (we will use that name) decided he wanted no part of the plane thing without fully exercising his well-developed lungs. When Tommy let loose, even Mr. Tinkles took notice! He was now even less thrilled than before. I began to fear for my life.

Fortunately, the rule says livestock must be stuffed under a seat for takeoff and landing. It seems nobody wants an angry, airborne murder-cat loose in the plane in the case of a rough takeoff/landing. Good idea! Mr. Tinkles got unceremoniously stuffed under the seat much to my relief, now he could only plot the destruction of my Achilles tendons rather than my throat. That was the good part.

The bad part, was that the cat decided to become… “musical” and join Tommy in a serenade of noise that no sound cancelling headphones can dampen. This continued on for most of the flight. Once the cat started, there was no “off” button. He did modulate between simple loud meows and “I’m caught in a blender” yowls, so we had that going for us.

By the time I hit Columbus, I was ready for the 5 degree weather if I could just get off the plane.

I am currently back in the airport waiting to board another tube-of-hades to return to Tampa. I ended up in a “B” boarding group, so I’m hoping for the best. I’ll let you know if the return goes off the rails.


Erich Kron is the Security Awareness Advocate at KnowBe4, and has over 20 years’ experience in the medical, aerospace manufacturing and defense fields. He is the former security manager for the 2nd Regional Cyber Center-Western Hemisphere.

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