'Flying Nimrods - Darwinism at work?' - Denese Rodgers

I've had the good fortune to have been able to fly on airplanes for most of my life. My late dad was an air traffic controller, and we always thought you were mainly supposed to fly if a trip was going to take more than about three hours.

I still hold to this theory and I keep several travel watchers online in case I can get a good deal to get up and go.

To me, flying is a privilege. I pay a fee for a professional crew to zip me from Atlanta to my destination -- and back again. I do not have any problem doing the simple things they ask me to do.

I used to work for an airline many moons ago, and the vast majority of the routines that they follow have their purpose, based on regulations, safety, or the simple logistics of having to move the masses.

I do not understand some basic stuff now about communications. I've gone all the way from not having phone contact, to instant and constant digital communication. It used to be that you called your mama before you left, so she'd have your itinerary "just in case." Then, when you landed, you made a mad dash to the nearest pay phone to call her and tell her that you had landed safely and she could take you off the prayer list.

Then, we progressed to having telephones on the plane in the rear of the head rest of the middle seat. Boy, that was spiffy. The only conditions to using those was that you had to wait until the plane was up in the air and you had to use a credit or calling card.

The calls were usually dropped and they cost about $5.00 a minute, but it was totally cool to call mama from 35,000 feet up in the air.

Now, we're fully digital and fully connected. It is a mixed blessing. You can do business all the way up until they close the hatch, and resume business as soon as you land.

The only problem is that there is a whole pack of bulletproof nimrods that don't want to turn off their phones (and mp3 players, and handheld games, ad nauseum) when the attendant makes that announcement.

I sat next to a fellow a couple of weeks ago. He was real important. He had lots of papers and business stuff that touted his position with the Office of the Treasury.

He also had an mp3 player that he just would not turn off. He wouldn't even take the headphones off of his head. I couldn't tell if it was defiance or deafness.

After two polite announcements, the attendant had to come ask him what it would take to get him to comply. (Here is where I fantasized about whacking him up side his head, so the headphones wouldn't fit.)

So, now I know -- we need special planes for the bulletproof, digitally dependent types.

Make them automated, so we don't sacrifice any of our airline personnel. If the plane goes down, we can attribute it to Darwinism. I'm just going to keep doing as I'm told.

I don't want somebody to tell my mama that I wouldn't turn off my phone and made the plane crash.

Denese Rodgers is executive director of Connecting Henry, a social-service, networking, partnership organization in Henry County.