Planes, Trains and Alligators

Planes, Trains and Alligators
(CTA/November 12, 2013) Photo courtesy of the Chicago Tribune

As if I didn’t have enough to worry about, now this: Alligators. Not only alligators on the train. Alligators on a plane. Because weather, fuel and snakes weren’t enough.

You probably heard the story about the woman who flaunted, not her alligator messenger bag, but her actual alligator on the Blue Line. Seriously. I can’t help but think, what is this world coming to? Do you know how much weirdness I witness on the CTA on a regular basis? An alligator would be a welcome departure. (In fact, the opening line of the Tribune article reads: “The riders on the Blue Line to O'Hare don't appear alarmed as the woman cradles and pets a 2-foot-long alligator, at one point holding it up as if showing it off.”

Of course they don’t appear alarmed. Ride the CTA long enough, and nothing will alarm you. (Just stop over at People of the CTA to get an idea. And a belly laugh. Because nothing says “fun” like laughing at your fellow citizens. Just ask The People of Walmart.) A live baby alligator? Yeah, a few people might look up. One might even smile and say, “Coochie, coochie, coo!”

But that’s the reaction of CTA riders. Back to this horrifying thought: What if that alligator actually made it onto a plane? My plane? I’ve seen people get apoplectic when they’re given chicken instead of beef, Diet Coke instead of Diet Pepsi. Can you imagine what an alligator in their overhead bin would do? Frankly, it’s thoughts like this that make me grateful I’m in front of the reinforced door that locks.

In thirty-two years of flying, the Mutual of Omaha stories I’ve heard or witnessessed are very few and far between. Cockroaches? Check. Lice? Check. Bedbugs? Check. I mean, eeewww, right? I refused to see the movie, Snakes on a Plane because I think, in terms of airline horror stories, my crew meals are enough.

As a Chicagoan who regularly takes the CTA Blue Line to work at O'Hare, I think I have enough to worry about without adding alligators to the mix. I have to watch my purse. And my iPhone. I keep earbuds in my ears at all times to deter conversation, even though, more often than not, the end of the cord is usually not attached to anything except maybe some lint in my pocket.

When I get on the jet to fly off, I need to be thinking about weather and fuel and navigation and not worrying if someone's future pair of shoes is inhabiting the trash bin in a blue room. Then again, as a highly trained aviation professional, I know I will be able to maintain focus on the things that are truly terrifying to me, like  landing without a fresh coat of lipstick.

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Filed under: Air travel, Chicago, Crime, CTA, Pilot

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