America Can No Longer Travel Without TV
My wife isn’t the best traveler. When I told her our flight to the West Coast was going to take six-plus hours, she stared back at me dumbfounded, like I told her we were being diverted to the moon. I tried to allay her fears of being trapped in a giant aluminum tube with 200 other people for that long by telling her about all of the neat things we could do with her portable electronic devices. “Watch a movie on your Kindle,” I said, “or listen to music on your iPhone,”. These suggestions were met with a resounding “meh”. “jetBlue has TV, right? I’ll just watch TV,” she resolved. Now here we are, seven miles over somewhere in Middle America and the TVs in row 12 don’t work and my wife has ticked off every hour.
To the crews credit, when we informed them of our malfunctioning idiot boxes, they actually made an effort to care, and provided all three of us in the row with $15 vouchers to put toward any future jetBlue travel. The card (English on one side, Espanól on the other) begins with “We’re sorry. No one should have to travel without TV,”. I know it’s a cute turn-of-phrase referring to jetBlue’s little seat-back TVs, but has it come to this? Can we no longer travel without TV?
Looking over people’s shoulders and cruising the aisle, (I’m a natural-born busy-body with a tiny bladder. Thanks, mom,) I’ve kept tabs on what people have been up to in this first half of the flight. If I were to guess, I would say we’re 50/50 on electronics versus no-electronics. The no electronics people seem to be either sleeping, traveling and chatting with friends or family members, or reading paper media (and probably getting their fingers all dirty. Ew,). The electronics folks are a true mixed-bag, though. The pinstripe jacket and dark denim, long-haired hipster Internet businessman to my right is owning the in-flight gadget game right now. Earlier, he was tap-tapping away at his MacBook Pro, dashing off e-mails (to be sent later. No inflight WiFi, jetBlue? Your TVs are looking a little weak,) and working on his big presentation to Silicon Valley. He’s since put away the work and is now enjoying an episode of Homeland on his iPad. Occupying the bottom of the pile is the middle-aged Asian lady in the front-row, tilted back in her seat, mouth agape, late-90′s-era CD Walkman (in blue!) spinning away in her lap. The road warriors are given away by their Bose Quiet Comfort headphones (sweet piece of marketing there, Bose), and there are plenty of crappy white Apple earbuds.
The answer, I think, is no, we can no longer travel without TV, if we’re under the age of 50. The constant need for stimulation has been programmed into my kids. They can’t make it to the grocery store without iPods. (Christmas two years ago, we drove to Virginia to visit family without electronics. We survived, but it was the longest 12 hours of our lives.) The Millenials to Generation X aren’t pre-wired like my kids are, but the smart-phone grab in the Starbucks line is now second-nature. Here’s hoping, for the flight back, the TV’s work.