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June 30, 2007 1:50 PM   Subscribe

"Dear Continental Airlines" Disgruntled airline passenger writes to customer service. Complete with hand-drawn diagrams.
posted by thatweirdguy2 (113 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Snopes (It's true)
posted by Mwongozi at 1:52 PM on June 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Good stuff. Hope he gets satisfaction.
posted by vito90 at 1:58 PM on June 30, 2007


I thought this was going to be related to this news story I saw last week.
posted by ninjew at 2:02 PM on June 30, 2007


I love the little frowny face he drew in the "depiction of a man's butt in my face."
posted by LeeJay at 2:06 PM on June 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also, this reminds me of the time I took a school trip from Baltimore to Boston in the beginning of June on a bus with no air conditioning and an insufficiently deodorized chemical toilet. Good times.
posted by LeeJay at 2:10 PM on June 30, 2007


I laughed so bad....thank you.

Yes, i have an immature sense of humour.
posted by cardamine at 2:21 PM on June 30, 2007


I thought this was going to be related to this news story I saw last week.

Nope. As per the note, this incident dates back to "2-21-2004 | Flt#888 | SDO → HOUSTON" and appears to have been "Received APR 13 2005: CUSTOMER CARE" by Continental Airlines.
posted by ericb at 2:25 PM on June 30, 2007


*12-21-2004*
posted by ericb at 2:26 PM on June 30, 2007


Sincerely,

Ignatius J. Reilly
posted by shmegegge at 2:31 PM on June 30, 2007 [10 favorites]


The Continental Airlines response: ha fucking ha.

Bastards. Shouldn't those seats come with a discount? Or at least a warning?
posted by pracowity at 2:32 PM on June 30, 2007


ah, nice shmegegge
posted by matt_od at 2:37 PM on June 30, 2007


did you read this ninjew? the first hand account of that horrid flight from europe where the sewage was backed up and continental forced those passengers to endure a two day fiesta with the same plane and no toilets?

passengers are now setting up a class action lawsuit for what is (heh) affectionately called the 'poop plane'
posted by eatdonuts at 2:42 PM on June 30, 2007


ericb - I know, I did see that. But apparently flying Continental can be a crap-shoot.
posted by ninjew at 2:43 PM on June 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


I have been in a similar seat. It is a truly horrible experience. In my case, the door would not properly latch unless locked, so when unoccupied the door would flop open and bang shut on turns and changes in altitude. The fanning action of the door made the stench worse. I got to where I could anticipate the motion and reached my hand out to stop the door from flopping.

And yes, the description of ass-on-passenger action is accurate.

Check your seating assignments folks.
posted by The Deej at 2:58 PM on June 30, 2007


My worst flight experience:

Two summers ago, I flew from Oakland to Chicago. American Airlines (not that it's important). I'm lucky enough to have an aisle seat (I'm long-legged), and the flight is fully-booked. The man sitting next to me stinks like all hell. Turns out he's got a coloscopy bag. After finally taking a hint by his second trip to the bathroom in under 2 hours, I offer to trade seats with him so I don't have to worry about his bag exploding on me as he squirms his way out the aisle. And his seat happens to be moist. Damp. Wet. Curiously, I brush the back of my finger on the seat and smell it...funky. Now the man on my left is fat and sweaty. I like armrests. I could only use one. The fat man begins sweating more and more. He frantically fumbles through his seat upholstery and grabs a bag. Shit. He's a big man, so it's going everywhere. I quickly grab my bag and offer it to him mid-yak. He's missed me, but he's gotten the floor and his shirt. Of course, now fat guy needs to go to the bathroom and get cleaned up. I race out of the seats and make sure to leave him plenty of room to get out. I wisely wait until he's done in the lavatory before reclaiming my wet, stinky, middle seat. I start looking around for cameras...I'm convinced I'm on some prank TV show. So I spend the remainder of the flight between two profusely apologetic men, Old Man Stinky and Yakety Fat Man. I can't decide which is worse...fecal matter or ammonia. Or my finger, which wouldn't stop smelling no matter how much I scrubbed it in the bathroom. And of course, I had to keep smelling it. Because, you know.

As Murphy's Law would have it, I had to wait an extra six hours for my luggage.

I think I've made it up for it by the number of people I've entertained at bars and dinner tables with this story.
posted by Mach3avelli at 2:59 PM on June 30, 2007 [12 favorites]


I've been on the American Airlines plane with the faulty latch. Door banging and swinging and the airline didn't give a rat's ass. I hate flying.
posted by Mojojojo at 3:03 PM on June 30, 2007


But apparently flying Continental can be a crap-shoot.

Chuckling. Good one.
posted by ericb at 3:07 PM on June 30, 2007


My worst flight experience" posted by Mach3avelli

Eponysterical!!!
posted by ericb at 3:10 PM on June 30, 2007


...the ass-on-my-body factor has increased...

Unless otherwise requested, I expect an ass-on-my-body factor of one.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 3:13 PM on June 30, 2007


But we don't want to pooh-pooh this customer's concerns...

Also, those packed 737s are really becoming rather torturous.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:25 PM on June 30, 2007


Another example of why you should always check seatguru when booking your seats. It's saved me a couple of uncomfortable flights in the past.
posted by Oops at 3:46 PM on June 30, 2007


Ya know... we ALL are aware of the terrible conditions on airlines now, and we are ALL aware of practices that are liable to strand us on a runway for 6 hours with no toilet, no water, sitting next to fetidman..

but we continue to fly...

you know what the answer is, people, stop buying tickets until things change... or fly first class...but stop whining when you get just what you know you're going to get.
posted by HuronBob at 3:51 PM on June 30, 2007


Who can afford first class?
posted by etaoin at 3:56 PM on June 30, 2007


you know what the answer is, people, stop buying tickets until things change... or fly first class

So... you're saying people should either not travel at all (or go by sea, I guess) even if they have to, or pay WAY more to do so?
posted by papakwanz at 4:02 PM on June 30, 2007


So is it really all airlines, or are some better than others?

I've done pretty much almost all of my flying in the last few years on Delta and Southwest (with a few trips on United, Frontier, and Jet Blue), and have had experiences ranging from tolerable to quite pleasant.

It might just be that nearly all my flights have been short, though... usually not more than 2-3 hours in the plane, and never more than 5 or 6. And the one memorably poor experience was on a Jet Blue flight from New York to Utah where the plane was full and the A/C stopped working... things got pretty stuffy and miserable, but that was about the extent of the troubles.
posted by weston at 4:14 PM on June 30, 2007


Who can afford first class?

Who pays for first class? I just upgrade.
posted by nathan_teske at 4:15 PM on June 30, 2007


"stop buying tickets until things change"

Ah, but the value of seeing my friends and loved ones is -far- more then the annoyance of a crappy flight -every- single time.

Since it's not feasible to drive seven days to the other side of the country to visit, and then drive back another seven days, and I love my friends and family very much, I'll tolerate.

I believe this is how almost everyone feels about the situation. Whatever it is that they need/want to do that requires flight is worth more then the annoyance of flying.
posted by FritoKAL at 4:16 PM on June 30, 2007


you know what the answer is, people, stop buying tickets until things change... or fly first class...but stop whining when you get just what you know you're going to get.

"Sorry, bro. No, I know, it's your wedding and I'm the best man, but, look: I'm staging an abstract protest of airline accommodations, so—

Hello? Hello?"
posted by cortex at 4:19 PM on June 30, 2007 [6 favorites]


you know what the answer is, people, stop buying tickets until things change... or fly first class...but stop whining when you get just what you know you're going to get.

Stop buying tickets, people, and build your own airplane. That'll show the airlines!

Seriously, the first thing I do when checking in for a flight is to a) make sure I arrive a little earlier than everyone else b) request an aisle seat at the bulkhead or the emergency exit.

Doesn't everyone do this?
posted by KokuRyu at 4:22 PM on June 30, 2007


Who can afford first class?

The client paying for my ticket.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 4:25 PM on June 30, 2007


The people who wrote that blog about "poop on a plane" DID fly first class.

My worst flight was a Garuda Indonesia flight in 1998. Three days after buying my non-refundable round-trip ticket, the exact same flight number crashed. All 222 passengers and 12 crew members were killed. So yeah, I was really excited to get on the plane for THAT vacation when the time came.

I won't go into the details of everything that made me thank God when the 22 hour flight was over... some was serious (We were evacuated from the plane due to "something being wrong with it" and then put back on the plane 15 minutes later. That happened twice. In two different airports.), some more annoying/frustrating (we were woken up to be fed breakfast in the middle of the night, lunch about 10 hours later, dinner only 1 hour after that and then left to starve until we landed). I think the only thing that would've made it worse was if it was one of those planes people brought livestock onto.

A week after we returned to the US Garuda was temporarily suspended from flying because the airline was cited for not having serviced or repaired their planes for a shocking amount of time due to financial difficulties. On the Wikipedia page, it says: "The airline is as of June 2007 banned from the EU, along with all Indonesian airlines, and EU citizens are advised not to use the airline at all as Indonesian airlines are "really unsafe."

So, looks like they haven't really improved much. Wheee! Good times.
posted by miss lynnster at 4:33 PM on June 30, 2007


I almost always knock myself out with some combination of pharmaceuticals and grain alcohol. Works like a charm.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 4:38 PM on June 30, 2007


So is it really all airlines, or are some better than others?

Just poking around to answer my own question, I found the aviation consumer protection page, where you can download reports that have complaint figures per number of enplanements, baggage complaint figures, and on-time ratings. Most of the reports seem to give data for a single month, but the Feb 2007 report looks like it has data for all of 2006.

What I'm reading suggests to me there really is a big difference between airlines. Late flight figures seem to range from 0.1% to 8.9%. The difference between the lowest number of mishandled baggage cases per thousand passengers and the highest is a factor of 5. Complaints per 100,000 enplanements vary by an order of magnitude.

Those are really still a small number of incidences, so I'm not sure I can say how much that means, but given that complaints probably represent a semi-consistent fraction of poor experiences, it seems somewhat likely that it's meaningful.
posted by weston at 4:50 PM on June 30, 2007


Incidentally, looking over the complaint ranking/summary on page 40 of the Feb 2007 report.... Aloha seems to be the best, with no complaints at all, but they have a comparitively small number of flights and only serve CA, NV, & HI. Southwest is the airline that has the best rating over more than 1 million enplanements. Continental looks like it's squarely in the middle. United appears to be the worst.
posted by weston at 4:58 PM on June 30, 2007


Wow, that's shitty.
posted by quin at 5:06 PM on June 30, 2007


I'd happily pay $20 more per ticket if I could avoid some of the more loathsome aspects of flying. Unfortunately, the airlines would like me to pay $300 more per ticket, so...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:08 PM on June 30, 2007


I had flights with some unpleasantness last week (SFO to Dulles and back). Same stuff or worse that happened to me has happened to everyone, I'm sure. I consider myself fortunate. At least my flights were both on time (except for a 30-minute delay on the tarmac at SFO coming home). It could have been a lot worse, judging from the other horror stories from flights last week. Anyway, never doing the aisle seat thing again if I can avoid it. Window seat or nothing.
posted by blucevalo at 5:20 PM on June 30, 2007


you know what the answer is, people, stop buying tickets until things change... or fly first class...but stop whining when you get just what you know you're going to get.

I don't understand why you guys are giving this comment so much heat. Flying is dirty, unpleasant, expensive and you have to jump through too many hoops for the whole miserable experience, not to mention you get screwed at every opportunity - is it still 3 bucks for a water after security? Like Huron Bob says - we all know this, so if you continue to do it, what are you complaining about?

At this current rate, I don't think it'll be so long until, "yes, I'm not going to your wedding, because it means flying, and I'll be fucked if I'm doing that". If I really like you, I'll drive.
posted by russmail at 5:24 PM on June 30, 2007


I guess I've been lucky. I haven't done tons of flying.. YYZ-LHR on BA, a whole lot of YYZ-YVR/YYJ on Westjet and Air Canada (also on Greyhound, but they're gone now), and YYZ-RDU on AC. The only unpleasant experiences I've ever had were due entirely to other passengers. In fact, flying back from RDU the plane was delayed by a whole 20 minutes, and the flight attendants compensated by giving everybody free drinks. For the whole (3 hour) flight.

This (In)Continental experience, though... the bastards should swing for this. They put knowingly malfunctioning equipment in the air, twice. I understand that the Montreal Convention limits damages, but the entire passenger list should sue for the maximum, and the airline should, if it's feasible, be brought up on criminal charges for endangering everybody's health.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:50 PM on June 30, 2007


And you know what? I'm a total moron.

I got reading about the poop plane, and somehow thought that's what this thread was about.

Yes, I am still hung over from last night. Why do you ask?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:53 PM on June 30, 2007


My worst flight was a Garuda Indonesia flight

Was there last year and did some flying within Indonesia. Garuda is their flagship airline there so you don't even want to know about their other homegrown airlines.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:04 PM on June 30, 2007


Wept with laughter reading this. Truly hilarious. Thanks.
posted by nickyskye at 6:06 PM on June 30, 2007


"If there was a quick and easy solution to this problem we would do it in a whiz."


I see what you did there customer service rep.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:10 PM on June 30, 2007


Deregulate the airlines. They suck because of the government pricing restrictions. Once consumers have a real choice, they will inevitably choose the highest-value proposition, forcing the others to catch up or go out of business.
posted by treepour at 6:14 PM on June 30, 2007


On a flight from Singapore to Japan the horrible man next to me picked his nose for the entire flight. 6 hours of nose picking. It was so disgusting it was fascinating. What an elusive booger it must have been to warrant such a search! Or was he merely so paranoid about having an escaped one hanging from his nose he picked constantly? Or maybe it was just something to do to pass the time?

I will never know.
posted by gomichild at 6:39 PM on June 30, 2007


If I really like you, I'll drive.

Doesn't work so well for those of us who live on an island.
posted by shelleycat at 6:54 PM on June 30, 2007


My worst flight was a Garuda Indonesia flight

I still remember the Garuda Darwin-to-Timor flight with the set of seats beside the overwing emergency doors ripped out and lifeboats inexpertly bolted in their place.

At least we were allowed to smoke.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:12 PM on June 30, 2007


Deregulate the airlines. They suck because of the government pricing restrictions.

See, the trouble with that is the airlines are already deregulated.

That's precisely what got us into this mess -- ladies and gents, I give you the Airline Deregulation Act, signed into law in 1978.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:30 PM on June 30, 2007


Although, that's U.S. only, of course. ;-)
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:32 PM on June 30, 2007


What's worse than Garuda, my friends? Merpati.
posted by mdonley at 11:44 PM on June 30, 2007


Also: WANT
posted by mdonley at 11:46 PM on June 30, 2007


Metafilter: depiction of a man's butt in my face.
posted by tzikeh at 12:26 AM on July 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


the airlines are already deregulated.

Clearly not enough.

/sarcasm

(I'm just old enough to recall the airline deregulation arguments in the US. The overall consensus seemed to be that prices would drop and quality would increase. Dramatically. How long do we have to endure this experiment -- and so many others like it -- to admit that it's not working as predicted? I'm not saying that deregulation is in itself a bad thing -- but we at least need to figure out why it hasn't work like we thought it would. The problem with that, of course, is admitting that it hasn't worked as predicted -- an admission that no one seems to have the stomach for, despite the raw sewage floating down the aisles.)
posted by treepour at 12:33 AM on July 1, 2007


you know what the answer is, people, stop buying tickets until things change... or fly first class...but stop whining when you get just what you know you're going to get.

This comment is bang on the money. Unless (and probably even if) you live on an island, chances are fly too much. I know I do and shit service and seats are the price I pay. It's all discretionary and no-one makes you do it. Even all that crap about families is your choice as, presumably, is your decision to buy the cheapest seat. You get what you pay for. Back when airlines were expensive (and better) you would have flown far less - and somehow, got by. Given that many business tickets are in real terms what economy tickets were 20 years ago, you still have that choice. And please don't pretend that flying everywhere whenever you feel like it is a right. Most of the world's population have never flown - although they are not unaffected by our doing so.
posted by rhymer at 1:11 AM on July 1, 2007


Since this is MetaFilter, I don't feel compelled to check any of my claims (yuk yuk,) but it seems to me the following has happened since dissolution of the CAB (i.e., airline "deregulation"):

Prices have dropped pretty dramatically on the most popular routes.

An explosion of fare classes, and tremendous carrier flexibility in offering rates to cater to changing market demands.

More carrier choices on busy routes.

Air passenger miles have increased, outpacing population growth by quite a bit -- air travel is not as rare as it used to be. How much of that is due to the above I can't say, but it's greater than 0%.

Less-popular destinations get dropped quicker; as a result lots of smaller markets have lost commercial air service (don't know about gains.) In general there's a lot more volatility both in route structures and fare levels (this is consistent with deregulation.)

Customer service is now teh suck. Especially missed are all those niceties that made air travel a special treat. Now you pay for playing cards or even a crappy sandwich (are they charging for water yet?) IMO the cheaper fares make up for the missing goodies, but letting customer service go was a crime.

Safety probably hasn't changed -- at least not that I can tell.

Probably somebody's actually researched all this and knows if any of the above is full of crap; but that's how things seem now from the perspective of somebody whose flying years started (barely) under the previous regulatory structure.
posted by Opposite George at 1:12 AM on July 1, 2007


I just don't understand why anyone voluntarily flies anymore. It costs a fortune, is terrible for the environment, is a bit dangerous, you get made to act like a high-security prisoner, and all of the employees have the mentality of a fast-food worker who knows that they can have you thrown into some FBI holding facility the very second you talk back to them. I can understand, maybe, if you have an incredibly good reason to go somewhere - for example, the 'best man' scenario listed above. However, I think most people fly way too much, especially on business (video conferencing, people!)

If airlines piss you off, vote with your wallet, and try to avoid scenarios where you're going to get stuck on a plane every other week (don't live on an island, don't be a sales rep.) Really, having to fly constantly is an enormous downside to anything that requires it. I'm sure this will occur to you the fiftieth time you're stuck between a screaming toddler and a person who apparently hasn't discovered hygiene (assuming you don't end up in Guantanamo for forgetting your water bottle in your carry-on.)
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:49 AM on July 1, 2007


It costs a fortune

It doesn't. That's the problem.
posted by rhymer at 3:04 AM on July 1, 2007


At this current rate, I don't think it'll be so long until, "yes, I'm not going to your wedding, because it means flying, and I'll be fucked if I'm doing that". If I really like you, I'll drive.

You figure out how to drive from Sydney to San Francisco, and I'll gladly pay you the cost of an airline ticket. Plus a little extra. Until then, some of us don't have much choice.
posted by barnacles at 7:56 AM on July 1, 2007


So is it really all airlines, or are some better than others?

BTW -- a useful website is FlightStats. It provides historical online flight ratings for individual flights, flight ratings, airline scorecards, airport user ratings and security wait times, etc.
posted by ericb at 8:00 AM on July 1, 2007


I fly roughly 100,000 miles a year (Alaska exclusively) and I rarely have any issues. Periodically they'll cancel a flight and not give me any advance warning, and then replace my seat in row 7 (on a flight in the mid-afternoon) with a seat in row 20 (on the red-eye), but that's about the extent of my problems.
posted by Nabubrush at 8:04 AM on July 1, 2007


I just don't understand why anyone voluntarily flies anymore.

Well for me, I voluntarily fly because the 10 hour drive to visit my family isn't more pleasant. And also, it's hard to get to other continents otherwise. I'm an ok swimmer, but... yeah, not that good.

And personally, I just don't understand why only 20% of United States citizens have a passport and the rest don't see why they should ever get on a plane. I'm saddened that so many people don't realize how blessed they are to have open access to just about any place in the world they could possibly dream of visiting. I know people who are not allowed to leave their own home countries and would probably quite literally give their right arm to be granted a visa and allowed on a plane to travel. Poop in the hallways or no.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:47 AM on July 1, 2007


YYZ-LHR on BA, a whole lot of YYZ-YVR/YYJ on Westjet and Air Canada (also on Greyhound, but they're gone now), and YYZ-RDU on AC.

Oh please. Yes, you are amazing, you know the airport codes. Are you trying to be obtuse? Just use the city names if you want people to understand you.

(Yes I'm too lazy to look them up and don't really care).
posted by marble at 11:45 AM on July 1, 2007


No, I'm just used to using airport codes at work, seeing as I spent large portions of the last few weeks coordinating over a hundred flights for thirty people.

In other words, fuck off. People use industry-specific slang and TLAs around here all the time. Any particular reason you want to pick on me?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:10 PM on July 1, 2007


dnab... I have to admit marble had a point although he said it in an insulting way. I haven't flown any of the routes you mentioned (Never been to Raleigh and while I would've guessed LHR is Heathrow, YYZ doesn't look anything like Toronto!) so I had no clue what you were saying so I just skipped over your comment.

On the other hand, if you had said SJC-BUR, SFO-PAR, ATH-CAI, BKK-DPS or LON-NYC those are abbreviations I'd have immediately known from my own travels. I know that other people probably wouldn't though.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:39 PM on July 1, 2007


Regular flyers identify airports more often by their codes then their real names. It saves time. There was no reason for marble to be such a condescending ass.

Note: I enjoy learning new codes, so thank you for San Jose lynnster.
posted by cavalier at 2:12 PM on July 1, 2007


miss lynnster, for some arcane reason (arcane = I have no idea what it is), Canadian airports all start with Y. And often seem pretty illogical.

YVR - Vancouver
YYJ - Victoria (wha?)
YYZ - Toronto (seriously? LBP for Lester B Pearson maybe? Even YLP?)
YXE - Saskatoon (you've got me there)
YHZ - Halifax (Why not YHX?)
YWG - Winnipeg
YYC - Calgary
YEG - Edmonton
YOW - Ottawa (I love that one)
YUL - Montreal

I don't know any of the others. I think the Victoria harbour is YHB or something, and Vancouver harbour is YVB.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:25 PM on July 1, 2007


And personally, I just don't understand why only 20% of United States citizens have a passport and the rest don't see why they should ever get on a plane....

(And when they do go abroad, then the destinations a lot of USians choose wind up being Bermuda, the Bahamas, and Cancun.)

miss l., you probably have a pretty different background and worldview than a hell of a lot of Americans. For a lot of people, the sheer idea of going somewhere where American English might not be the primary language is a daunting idea, and not everybody can embrace immersion in an unfamiliar culture.

It's not hard at all for me to understand why more of us Yanks aren't getting passports and going abroad. It requires a certain level of education, gumption and curiosity to to want to see other people and places in the world, and it requires some spare cash and spare time, too. For a large proportion of us would-be globetrotters, just being able to take time off to spend a couple days at the beach in the summer is a nontrivial aspiration, and coming up with airfare and hotel and train money for a modest four-day trip in Europe might as well have been funding an Apollo moon shot for most of my 40-plus years on this planet, despite the fact that I'd actually bother to learn some of whatever local history, language and customs beforehand and get that pesky passport thing nailed down.
posted by pax digita at 2:44 PM on July 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm hoping there isn't a quiz later. Haven't been to Canada since 1976.
posted by miss lynnster at 3:05 PM on July 1, 2007


Holy crap (and puke for that matter), Mach3avelli . If I were you I'd ask for an upgrade. If no upgrade were available, I'd tell the flight attendant about those "chest pains" you were having.
posted by dr_dank at 4:04 PM on July 1, 2007


Y is for Yggdrasil. Or it could be this.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:24 PM on July 1, 2007


Disclaimer: this is obviously a subject I'm passionate about. So please keep that in mind & if you don't want to read it, skip to the next comment. kthx.

Well pax, the main reason I have a different worldview than most Americans is because I decided at an early age that I thought it was a shame Americans don't travel. I firmly believe that this world would be a far kinder and more empathetic place if it was mandatory for all Americans to leave this continent for 2 months before turning 25. Case in point, George Bush never left the country ONE TIME before becoming president. He commits more cultural gaffes and insults than any president I think we've ever had and it's shameful. More than anyone, the President of the United States should be a respectful World Citizen.

Yeah, I've made sacrifices to travel. I shop at Marshalls while friends shop at Nordstrom. I buy food at the 99¢ Store, Grocery Outlet & TJ's while other people shop at Whole Foods. I cook most of my meals. I don't have dusty jetskis in my garage that I never use. I make my own coffee every morning instead of buying one from Starbucks. My car is 8 years old and paid off and I don't think it needs replacing. But try to talk me out of splurging a bit to witness an Egyptian dervish or meet Turkish schoolgirls or watch Italian tourists serenade a gondolier... yeah... just try to talk me out of wanting to get on a plane.

Travel is as fundamental as breathing to me & not some kind of luxury or torture. So much so that I help my friends plan holidays that I'm not even going on. It's a convenient myth that it has to be expensive. Also, it doesn't have to take more free time (I'll plan a chunk of time off but my coworkers will use up vacation days along the way to organize their garages or watch tv or go to Vegas for a week every year instead). My last 4 flights were free thanks to accrued credit card miles. In 2003 I was able to fly from LA to London for $159 RT because I keep an eye out for bargains. In 1998 I took a leave of absence from work to spend a month in Southeast Asia and spent less than $1000 besides my airfare (my friends & I flew courier for $300).

Meanwhile, my father spent over $3000 to take a ONE WEEK cruise to Hawaii where he barely left the ship. When he finally got off the boat for a half hour, he called me and said, "It's like a different country! This is great!" and it made me sad that he's never taken time to give the rest of the world a chance. Because I think he would've loved it if he had opened his mind to it.

From the first time I stepped a terrified foot overseas at 24 I knew I wanted to actually learn about places. To actually get to know the world and the people in it first hand. It's important to me because when I watch the news, I have perspective based on understanding. I don't swallow whatever I'm told if I know better from first hand experience. I know that the world is not just full of inferior cultures and terrorists. It's full of amazing and wonderful things and people. Wonderful things and people that aren't American & don't WANT to be American. And why should they?

So yes, I DO wish more Americans knew the joy of being a citizen of the world and made an effort to make America less culturally ignorant. And I DO think it would be a better country and we would be much more welcomed around the world if we did. Instead, we come across as self-absorbed and ignorant. And I'm not going to pretend I'm not sad about that. It bums me out. It's downright embarrassing sometimes.
posted by miss lynnster at 4:26 PM on July 1, 2007 [9 favorites]


MetaFilter: Are you trying to be obtuse?
posted by ericb at 4:40 PM on July 1, 2007


"And personally, I just don't understand why only 20% of United States citizens have a passport and the rest don't see why they should ever get on a plane"

I haven't seen all the things in the U.S. that I want to see yet. When I've exhausted all my sightseeing options in this country, then I can start worrying about seeing things elsewhere.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:59 PM on July 1, 2007


I fly roughly 100,000 miles a year (Alaska exclusively) and I rarely have any issues.

One thing barely addressed in this thread is that there are two very different flying experiences: regular people and frequent flyers. I'm a Premier Exec on United and that means regular upgrades, getting on the plane early, a diferent line for checking in at the terminal and, more importantly, getting seated in the Economy Plus section which has enough legroom to cross your legs. I would never be placed in Seat 29E.

If a flight gets cancelled, the standby list is not ordered by how long you've been waiting, like most things in life. Its ordered by your status with the airline. That means I can show up to a plane about to leave in 30 minutes and join their standby lists and grab that last seat ahead of 20 other people who have been sleeping at the airport for 6 hours waiting to get on a flight. Not fair but there you have it.

The difference was most stark when I was transiting through Philadelphia last week on US AirWays. There's a whole "regular" terminal, the one most people see. Like most terminals, power outlets were scarce and I even saw one women sitting on the floor near some bathrooms so she could use her laptop.

Anyways, above this "regular" terminal on the second floor is the US Airways lounge. Its actually really big, with lots of interconnected rooms. I'd say there were maybe a couple hundred people up there in this alternate universe. My United PE allows me, through a mutual back-scratching arrangement, to get into the lounge free as a Star Alliance Gold member.

Anyways, when you walk in they ask you what flight you're on. This is so they can remind you but screens are everywhere. There are individual cushioned seats everywhere - each with their own personal power outlet. There was an open buffet on one large table and an open bar. This is the civilized way to wait.

I've never paid anything extra, never bought a Business or First Class ticket. Never paid for any access to any lounge. Its two different universes of traveling.
posted by vacapinta at 5:14 PM on July 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


mr_crash_davis... why do you have to limit yourself to only choose one or the other? Why is domestic travel mutually exclusive? I've seen a lot of the U.S. as well... I just got back from Oklahoma last month so it's not like I'm only interested in exotic locales. Exploring and understanding your own homeland is a big part of being a world citizen. But by nature it cannot be the only part. You can't fully relate to other perspectives if you are determined to never leave your comfort zones.

And FWIW, I don't think it should even be possible to ever see every amazing place in America. Or the world.
posted by miss lynnster at 5:41 PM on July 1, 2007


"mr_crash_davis... why do you have to limit yourself to only choose one or the other?"

I don't see it as limiting. The U.S. is a massive, sprawling country with an incredible diversity of geography, climate, dialect, cuisine, etc. There are places I would like to see on other continents ... someday. But first, I want to get to know my own country better.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:07 PM on July 1, 2007


vacapinta's experience strongly correlates with my own experience with Virgin Upper Class.

A limo picked me up at my house and delivered me to a special terminal check-in point. I was ushered to a private club / waiting room, where they were offering free massages, food and drink, and every other useful thing a traveler could need. When my flight was ready, I was escorted to the plane, where I noticed that everyone had already boarded -- the entire flight was waiting for me. My seat folded flat, I had all the booze, food and movies I wanted, and there was an on-board massage therapist. When I arrived at my destination, another limo was waiting to pick me up.

It was insane.

The printed ticket said this whole thing, L.A. to London, cost $10K. But I know my company didn't pay anything extra for this -- it was an upgrade for repeat company business.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:07 PM on July 1, 2007


Please, please, no more mentions of platinum or star frequent flyers! I lost my medallion status last year after a hiatus to the constant stream of travel I had previously endured. To put it in perspective, travelling something like 45 odd weeks one year is what earned me that status in the first place. It's absolutely wonderful -- almost kind of NECESSARY -- when you travel that much. So many hours getting lost just in pre and post transit time.

Anyhoo. Changed offices, no more flying, except now I'm starting up again and it's starting from scratch. You should have seen the horrified look on my face when I arrived and found out I had no upgrade priviledge, indeed, my status was "General Member". Crying at the counter produced no help, either.

Ok, cheap derail story. An associate of mine is more of a driver. He'll land in one state, grab a car and just ping pong up and down the state and fly out where he started. He rents so damn much guess what his $19/day rental gets him? I'll give you a hint, it's named after a cat and it's a murder to keep repaired.
posted by cavalier at 6:15 PM on July 1, 2007


miss lynnster, George Bush did leave the country at least once, in 1998. Not that it changes anything. Your point is still valid - he's still a total, culturally tone-deaf douchebag.

not to be too anal, or anything...
posted by fingers_of_fire at 7:13 PM on July 1, 2007


Good to know, I had read that he hadn't ever been anywhere.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:15 PM on July 1, 2007


I just don't understand why only 20% of United States citizens have a passport

Well, until very recently you didn't need a passport to go to most of the places you might go for a just-a-vacation vacation. You didn't need one for Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, Jamaica, the Caymans, the BVI, Costa Rica, Panama...
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:40 PM on July 1, 2007


Davy Rothbart of Found Magazine read this letter at a Found/PostSecret event I went to a year or so ago. I assumed it was part of Found's collection of found stuff - makes me wonder where he actually got it. Neat to hear that it's true though.
posted by naoko at 8:26 PM on July 1, 2007


Speaking of which, where the hell is PostSecret today?

My Sunday is ruined.
posted by naoko at 8:34 PM on July 1, 2007


I don't see it as limiting. The U.S. is a massive, sprawling country with an incredible diversity of geography, climate, dialect, cuisine, etc.

I remember when I went to India on business in the late 90's and I took a coworker with me. She was a girl who had traveled in the U.S. but never had really left it. Since the trip was being paid for by the company, she decided to go.

If you buy me a beer sometime I can tell this story better in person but she basically had a breakdown over there. It was the most extreme case of culture shock I've ever seen. We were guests of one of our Indian business partners and stayed at his house. He had a team of servants to attend to us. It was almost comical how she attempted to have these interactions with people and was completely confounded. She had never seen crowds like this, never seen this amount of humanity, never seen poverty at this level and so on. She actually ended up having a breakdown - in the office one day she just started laughing/crying and we couldnt get her to stop. So we sent her home. Still, when I run into her today she tells me about what a life-changing experience India was for her.

To support miss lynster here, traveling is not about seeing "sights" or sampling cuisines. I think too many also make the mistake of going to, say, Paris - seeing the Eiffel tower and a few museums, sitting in a bus with other tourists and, voila, they've been to France. Traveling, really traveling, is about cultural immersion. Staying with a French family or an Italian family or an Indian family and befriending them and listening to them, seing the world as they see it. There are thousand of ways to live life, cultures are diverse and people are more diverse.

You can get some of that feeling by traveling the U.S. and talking to people and getting to know them, yes, but if you travel around the World you'll soon discover that the perspective and world-view of Americans is more similar than different. Other cultures have a slightly distinct but equally valid view of the shared reality we all live in. Travel and immersion, true immersion not "sight-seeing", is as my coworker discovered later in her life than most, a transformative experience.
posted by vacapinta at 8:47 PM on July 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


Thanks vacapinta. I've seen that happen to my friends on their first trips overseas too.

I mean, just flushing the toilet in another country can be a challenge. It's insanely hard to grasp culture shock until it hits you. It blindsides people, and it's very very real. It's just a pure meltdown for most of us. I know it was for me, I ended up sitting in the middle of a road in London crying because the cars were on the other side of the road and I suddenly didn't know why the hell I left home. And that was before I'd even started coping with language barriers.

World travel does NOT make anyone's life an easier one. Far from it, it can make life a lot more difficult and complex in many ways -- it can change your entire reality. It's rarely as glamorous as non-travelers think, sometimes it's just plain hard work. But the benefits you receive from it can make life much richer in ways you could've never expected.

As always, YMMV.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:34 PM on July 1, 2007


Ah, do enough travelling and this all starts to be come re-relativized (it's a word, I just wrote it!). People is people behind the thin veil of culture. It helps if you have a plastic and transfigurable viewpoint to begin with.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:37 PM on July 1, 2007


From the first time I stepped a terrified foot overseas at 24 I knew I wanted to actually learn about places. To actually get to know the world and the people in it first hand. It's important to me because when I watch the news, I have perspective based on understanding. I don't swallow whatever I'm told if I know better from first hand experience. I know that the world is not just full of inferior cultures and terrorists. It's full of amazing and wonderful things and people. Wonderful things and people that aren't American & don't WANT to be American. And why should they?

So yes, I DO wish more Americans knew the joy of being a citizen of the world and made an effort to make America less culturally ignorant. And I DO think it would be a better country and we would be much more welcomed around the world if we did. Instead, we come across as self-absorbed and ignorant. And I'm not going to pretend I'm not sad about that. It bums me out. It's downright embarrassing sometimes.
posted by miss lynnster at 4:26 PM on July 1 [2 favorites +] [!]


That is *awesome* that you have figured out how to travel so cheaply and avoid the narrow mindedness that the rest of us are left to wallow in. Say, I'm curious--what do you do with your wife and four kids during these mind-expanding adventures overseas?
posted by craniac at 10:21 PM on July 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Since 1998 I've been sole caretaker to my mother, an 80 year old blind woman. I'm sorry your life is so much more difficult than anyone else's. But it isn't necessarily.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:08 PM on July 1, 2007


Also? We all make choices. To have four kids was yours. Don't snap at me for it. I had nothing to do with that.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:09 PM on July 1, 2007


craniac: take them with you.


My boyfriend is leaving next week to go to Europe with his parents and 3 siblings. They are not a wealthy family. They drive old cars and sometimes struggle to pay for some things, but they still figure out a way to travel together at least every other year or so. Both within the country (Mexico) and outside of it.

And really, saying you dont want to travel elsewhere until you finish seeing your own country is kinda like saying you wont try another restaurant until you try every item on the menu of the one you're in now. You're missing out on a lot of other places.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 11:35 PM on July 1, 2007


That last part of my post was not for craniac. But for others both here and outside of metafilter who think that way.

Also, isnt thinking "oh nooo, I wouldn't want to see any other country before seeing everything in *this* awesome country", part of the problem? Again with the "my-country-is-so-great-no-other-country-could-be-as-awesome mentality"
posted by CrazyLemonade at 11:40 PM on July 1, 2007


You should see all of scenic Burhanistan someday...wait, no. That's only for Mrs. Burhanistan.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:24 AM on July 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm just old enough to recall the airline deregulation arguments in the US. The overall consensus seemed to be that prices would drop and quality would increase. Dramatically. How long do we have to endure this experiment
Apparently, you're not old enough to remember how much air travel cost before deregulation. But, hey, why cloud nostalgia with fact.
posted by kjs3 at 7:21 AM on July 2, 2007


It's too bad for poor folks who have to stay in their own country - you know, like most all the folks we see when we travel to foreign lands.

Sarcasm aside, it's pretty much ok if you want to just travel the width and breadth of your own country, or even just stay right where you are. When I went away to college, I met countless people who hadn't been ten miles away from the house they grew up in. This is ok!

I'm surprised at the vitriol toward a) folks who want to travel all over the place, and b) folks who don't want to travel that much. Different strokes for different folks. I'd just as soon not travel as much as I do, but I wouldn't fault anyone who wants to travel all the time.
posted by Nabubrush at 11:02 AM on July 2, 2007


"Also, isnt thinking "oh nooo, I wouldn't want to see any other country before seeing everything in *this* awesome country", part of the problem?"

I guess if you think there's a problem, you can make anything you want "part" of it.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:16 AM on July 2, 2007


I'm surprised at the vitriol toward a) folks who want to travel all over the place, and b) folks who don't want to travel that much.

I think the vitriol towards the latter is that it's symptomatic of a particular kind of insularity and refusal to accept that there is a bigger world out there, and some of it is different. And, more to the point, that some of it may be as nice as your own bit.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:44 AM on July 2, 2007


I guess if you think there's a problem, you can make anything you want "part" of it.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:16 AM on July 2


Thats just it. One of the biggest problems is that Americans think there is no problem. They're perceived as insular. Its partly a fault of geography I agree. For most Europeans, visiting another country is hopping on a train and its rare to meet somebody who doesn't speak 2 or 3 languages.

American insularity is all fine and good if what Americans did only affected Americans. But it doesn't. We vote for a government which makes decisions which strongly affect the lives of people around the world and we don't even know anything about them.

Traveling to Europe these days involves having to apologize for being an American. This is a big change from just ten years ago when we were greeted with awe. Now, I have to launch into a premable about how they shouldn't generalize about all Americans and we're diverse and so on and so on... (sound familiar?)

Anyways, I may be lying to you about all the above. If you don't travel you'll just have to go on believing what other people tell you instead of inspecting the world for yourself.
posted by vacapinta at 11:59 AM on July 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


I don't have vitriol towards anyone. There is a definite reason that we give other countries a bad impression of how uninterested in the rest of the world we are, though. And whether you see it or not, it is against our best interest as a country in many ways.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:02 PM on July 2, 2007


> b) folks who don't want to travel that much.

I think the vitriol towards the latter is that it's symptomatic of a particular kind of insularity and refusal to accept that there is a bigger world out there, and some of it is different. And, more to the point, that some of it may be as nice as your own bit.


But the flip side of that is that it's unfair to presume that a failure to travel out of the US (or a failure to desire vocally to do so) is a symptom of fundamental insularity and rejection of the idea of a great world, instead of a mere correlation between the two in some cases.

I'm not big on travel. I don't dislike the idea of it, and I had a great time in Germany and Austria a few years back, but I just don't have much wanderlust. It's not that I don't think the world outside the US has nothing to offer, I just don't much like traveling. I don't have the avocation—maybe even the ability, to some extent—to really soak up a different place. I'm not sure that makes me insular so much as just a creature of comfort, a homebody.

So while it's understandable that there's a view of insularity in the US as a whole, it's more complex than merely saying "traveling is good and hence not traveling is bad", especially when you step away from the holistic and examine the individuals. And the problem is that the vitriol (though that's probably too strong a word for most of what's been said here) strikes home on the individual, not the gestalt. America-the-perceived-whole can't read Metafilter comments, but e.g. mr_crash_davis-the-actual-complex-person can. So the dismissiveness and the reactionary jabs in either direction seem a bit vicious and a bit petty in their misplacedness, despite the points and the passion driving them being generally good and defensible.
posted by cortex at 12:20 PM on July 2, 2007


America-the-perceived-whole can't read Metafilter comments, but e.g. mr_crash_davis-the-actual-complex-person can. So the dismissiveness and the reactionary jabs in either direction seem a bit vicious and a bit petty in their misplacedness, despite the points and the passion driving them being generally good and defensible.

I'm not really specifically addressing mr_crash_davis even though I'm using his comments as a starting point and an example. When one writes comments here it's understood to be for a wider audience that may be reading. That is, my points above stand as general points not specific ones.

That said, keep in mind that m_c_d above didn't say that he dislikes travel (or is a homebody) so much that he essentially believes that travelling in the US has enough diversity to suffice. Others of us are simply arguing that the diversities of the US and the World are in some ways comparable and in other ways dramatically not.

My own parents don't like to travel somewhat for the reasons you describe. That is, they are homebodies.
posted by vacapinta at 12:58 PM on July 2, 2007


it's more complex than merely saying "traveling is good and hence not traveling is bad",

Indeed. Traveling is good for expansion of the mind, not traveling due to insularity is bad.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:32 PM on July 2, 2007


miss lynnster: So yes, I DO wish more Americans knew the joy of being a citizen of the world and made an effort to make America less culturally ignorant. And I DO think it would be a better country and we would be much more welcomed around the world if we did. Instead, we come across as self-absorbed and ignorant. And I'm not going to pretend I'm not sad about that. It bums me out. It's downright embarrassing sometimes.

It's all a matter of priorities. You think it's embarrassing that Americans haven't been to other countries, I think it's embarrassing that most can't give a proper reason for why the seasons occur or name the planets. I tend to think fundamental ignorance about the natural world is a bigger deal than ignorance about other cultures.

Anyways, I think people who travel widely tend to trivialize the difficulty in visiting other countries. They tend to know how to do it cheaply, staying in hostels and such, dealing with the locals for travel, etc. The thing is, that kind of existence doesn't agree with everyone. Most people need to have a locked door between themselves and random strangers while they sleep, and don't have the personality skills necessary to negotiate a scooter taxi with someone who doesn't speak a common language or have an interpreter.

I've been exposed to some of this stuff because my sister tends to wander the world, and I know I wouldn't be willing to live like she does in those other countries. Most people wouldn't. It takes a certain type of person, and most people aren't, and for normal people to travel in a way that's acceptable to them costs such an utter fortune it's not even funny.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:34 PM on July 2, 2007


You left the country before deciding you didn't want to travel, though. You experienced it. It wasn't for you. You decided that from your experience. That's good.

I have no vitriol for anyone. Quite the opposite, which is why I believe gaining empathy for cultures besides your own should be important if you're living on this planet. The first time I went backpacking overseas in 1989, my friend Scott's little brother asked me where I'd been. I told him. His response was "Why would you go to Europe? Europe SUCKS." I asked him if he'd ever been there. He said, "No, why would I go there? It SUCKS." I said, "So is it the entire continent that sucks or specific countries?" His response was "Just the whole country of Europe. It sucks. Everybody knows that."

DUH, he doesn't represent everyone who hasn't traveled (which includes 80% of my own family). OF COURSE not everyone is like him, but I learned a lot about myself from that conversation about the kind of American I wanted to be. I never forgot it. I wish his attitude was more unique than it is but I've heard similar statements many times over the years. (He still feels the exact same about the world btw, and is now a father of 3 Europe-hating kids.)

A lot of my comments come not from negativity but rather from my fondness for people I've met around the world who I consider to be a part of my life just as much as my friends on this continent. So many times I've had them ask me why Americans don't travel and don't care about other cultures. Why we invade places and kill people without ever taking the time to even understand anyone else (George Bush hasn't helped that impression). Like others have said, I almost feel a need to apologize for my countrymen, and I REALLY try not to because it makes me uncomfortable.

As for the passport thing, I'll tell you exactly where my response to that was coming from right now. I'd be lying if I said I haven't been affected by hours spent talking to my dear friend in Egypt who desperately wants to travel but can't leave Egypt (especially because of 9/11) to even visit me. I so wish he could, but I'm free to go wherever I want and he can't get a Visa. He tells me over & over how blessed we are & it really makes me realize that WE ARE. He can't understand why Americans wouldn't be using their freedom to travel everywhere and why they aren't interested in the rest of world. Especially when we're constantly invading places. My European friends ask me about this all the time too... it is just foreign to them to not be interested in the world.

Meanwhile, here it's foreign to a lot of people to be interested in things that are foreign. That's just the way it is, I guess. No vitriol, but yeah... we're an insular place and I do wish we weren't so much. That doesn't COME CLOSE to meaning that I'm saying craniac shouldn't have had children.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:41 PM on July 2, 2007


Honestly, I just wish the people who so vehemently disagree with my fondness for travel had just skipped that comment above as I'd requested in the first sentence disclaimer of it. I don't recall EVER saying people have to agree with me.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:58 PM on July 2, 2007


miss lynnster: He can't understand why Americans wouldn't be using their freedom to travel everywhere and why they aren't interested in the rest of world.

I think in the end, it comes down to what a lot of other people have suggested - America is a big place, and you can spend your entire lifetime exploring it and never see all of it. It's cheaper to stay here, and it feels safer (for example, you've been to Egypt - I couldn't be paid enough to enter in the current political climate.) Also, it depends on what you travel for - I'm mostly in it for the natural attractions, and the US has nearly every kind of that. Most of what's left is too inhospitable for me to really want to see it (tropical rainforests, for example.) There are still a bunch of places I want to go, like Antarctica and Iceland, but the cost is probably going to keep me away. Then again, maybe my Antarctica job application will come through someday (probably after I hopefully manage to weasel my way into grad school.)
posted by Mitrovarr at 2:12 PM on July 2, 2007


America is a big place, and you can spend your entire lifetime exploring it and never see all of it.

True 'dat. Moreover, the cultural differences are also sufficiently diverse, even within the same country, to get a different vibe. Seattle is not New York, is not Miami, is not Chicago, etc.

The scale is quite different, too. Most of my Irish relatives can't quite grok that the greater Southern California area alone is far more immense than the whole of Ireland. They think they can visit L.A. and see all of Disneyland, Las Vegas and San Diego in the same weekend trip.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:19 PM on July 2, 2007


What we have here is a binary logic trap.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:23 PM on July 2, 2007


I don't have vitriol towards anyone.

I'll go tell John.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:42 PM on July 2, 2007


Thing is, a native Egyptian's view of Egypt would of course be FAR different than yours... it is his beloved home and he loves it. It is his proud heritage and where his family has lived for thousands of years. He adores Cairo and he only wants to leave for a vacation. Egyptians are a very proud people and they love their country. As I've said before, fundamentalist muslims represent the average Egyptian as much as fundamentalist Christians represent the average American. The majority of Egyptians are by nature incredibly gentle people.

And for that matter, since when is OUR country such an incredibly safe place? We have more violence here by far. As a matter of fact, there is NO stealing in Egypt, it's pretty much non-existent. You can leave your keys in your car and park it with your wallet on the seat and have it all be there an hour later. Did you know that? When I was there, I saw it for myself and was amazed. There are fewer incidents of violence there than there are here on any given day.

If someone told you that America is just ignorant fat people and gang members with guns that are going to try to kill you, would you agree that's what it is? You live here and you see it first hand so you'd probably say no (unless you are a fat gangmember). But that's how we're portrayed on tv across the world. Likewise, your image of other countries is about the size of your television screen apparently. You know all about if there's a violent crisis you know all about the negative stuff people report... but have you ever read about day to day life there at all? Do you know about what kind of food they eat? About their music and celebration feasts? About how much Egyptian people love to dance? Or do you only know about when there is violence and so that's what you think the country is like all the time? The world is more complex than that, and so are people.

The scariest times I had in Egypt were in my head before I left because of the images I'd seen on tv. The Egypt I visited was a much different place than the Egypt I ever imagined or have EVER seen on television. I was blindsided by how wrong that image was. The people were kind and funny and incredibly hospitable. I felt like precious cargo the way they took care of me. And now that I'm learning Arabic, going back will be far less frightening next time because I will make more of an effort to communicate and learn about the people I meet.

Which goes back to some of the points I was trying to make before about how travel teaches you wonderful things about the world, although some of you have a hard time respecting that possiblity. Because Lordy, I NEVER SAID that I didn't think the U.S. has nice things to see. What I said and I now feel even stronger after some of your comments is simply that I just wish to God that more American citizens would quit basking in the xenophobic fearmongering that glows from their television screens and experience the world for themselves. Because when viewed in 3D, the world can be a freaking amazing place with a hell of a lot of incredible people all over it.
posted by miss lynnster at 3:05 PM on July 2, 2007


I'm not really specifically addressing mr_crash_davis even though I'm using his comments as a starting point and an example. When one writes comments here it's understood to be for a wider audience that may be reading. That is, my points above stand as general points not specific ones.

Absolutely. I should have been more clear. I see what I wrote about above as being the source of the kind of negative feedback loop that can build up in a thread like this. While there is some jabbing or button-pushing in the argumentation here, it's likely not anything to do with the specific person or people in the argument—we're talking about the bigger picture, in the context of the bigger picture, and that is (generally) understood. And yet: it's the individuals in the discussion, and the individuals to whom the discussion's sharp pointy ends are implicitly (if inaccurately) applied. "Don't be defensive" as a general policy is good, but I think it gets left aside in the heat of the argument and so the reductions from the idealized general case to the particular players making the arguments is inevitable, and it just sort of cycles and feeds as a result.
posted by cortex at 3:41 PM on July 2, 2007


Just don't get caught in between two imaginary poles of reference and you'll be ok.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:47 PM on July 2, 2007


A good example of what miss lynster is talking about is in this recent Ask Mefi thread where the poster seems very worried about the percieved level of crime in Mexico city and whether it will be safe for him to walk around at all. The result you can read for yourself at the bottom of the thread.
posted by vacapinta at 4:00 PM on July 2, 2007


That was nice, vacapinta. Thanks for linking to it. I'm not even a fan of Mexican travel (had a few scary experiences there in my 20s) and yet the comments actually made me want to go back there and get a fresh perspective.

Plus, now I've decided to make chicken mole for dinner. Mmmmmm. :)
posted by miss lynnster at 6:23 PM on July 2, 2007


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