Thursday, May 19, 2011

Our Lady Of Perpetual Misery

WHAT UNITED AIRLINES DID: scheduled its usual load of flights to and from various places in the country, assigning each flight a number for billing and recordkeeping. As usual, United assigned its flights ordinary integers like 93 or 175, nothing insane or irrational like π or √2 or anything like that.

WHAT UNITED AIRLINES SAID AFTERWARDS: “Mea culpa! Forgive us! We forgot the numbers 93 and 175 can never be used on flights anymore, because those were some of the flight numbers from 9/11!”

: “Get over yourselves, you masochistic misery fetishists. They’re just numbers.”

(Note to non-American readers: “9/11” is American shorthand for what the rest of the English-speaking world calls “the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, DC on 11 September 2001.” It’s pronounced “nine-eleven,” in the same hallowed tones devout teetotalling Baptists use to say “Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”)

Back when 9/11 was still contemporary news, it would indeed have been insensitive for an American airline company to assign a flight such numbers; no ticketholder wants to hear “Now boarding flight 93” when he’s already heard “everyone on flight 93 died” on the news on his way to the airport.

But ten years later, why are we still behaving as though the initial fear and adrenalin rush is still intoxicating our systems? What really creeps me out about this is, it seems like America’s on track to becoming another dysfunctional LEG country, a Land of Endless Grudges. Like the rationales for the idiotic wars that periodically erupt in places like the Balkans: “We must raze the town of Grzywycz and kill everybody in it, to avenge the evil things its townspeople did to my great-great-grancestor in 1397!” Or perhaps a better analogy would be the lifelong mourning misogynistic Victorians demanded from respectable widows: “Your husband is dead, you’re a widow at age 20, and the sorrow you now feel is expected to define the rest of your existence. You must never smile, wear colors or pursue normal enjoyment, ever again. You know the old saying ‘Life goes on?’ Not for you, it doesn’t.”

It’s wicked enough when done to widows, worse when done to a whole nation. Especially when that nation is mine.


Blogger rhhardin said...

XCIII would be okay. You don't want to use arabic numerals.

5:03 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Abel said...

Heh heh heh.

1:39 AM  
Blogger rhhardin said...

Another possibility is simply announcing that henceforth "All United flight numbers will be in hexadecimal," just not making use of the numerals A-F. Then "93" is actually 147 (9x16+3) and has no relation to decimal 93.

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Russ 7D0 (aka 2000) said...

93 in hexadecimal is 5D.

7:22 AM  
Anonymous Lisa Simeone said...

It's 9/11 victimology, Jennifer, alive and well. It's especially useful to our security overlords, who love to whip it up every time they come up with another abusive abrogation of our rights. And a complacent public goes right along.

8:58 AM  

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