Evacuation Seattle

Studies have shown cloth masks are useless in preventing transmission of COVID-19 but highly effective at preventing the stewardess from throwing you off the plane. Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Apparently, there is a pandemic still going on across the United States.

It usually startles me to rediscover this on occasion. But this surprise, in an instant, gives way to the realization political campaigns never end either. We live our lives best we can while that public health crisis goes on. The public health crisis we call COVID-19 is no different in this regard. August former newspapers like The Seattle Times ensure it.

The enlightened coward so common to Seattle eventually inspired Megan and myself to get the hell out. If only for a week. Prolonged exposure to the noxious, snotty, suffocatingly statist worldview of King County definitely weakens the mind. Perhaps the immune system as well. There is no vaccine for stupidity, it seems.

A trip out to north Idaho, where one can dip their toes in a pristine river — masked or not — was in order. I’m not above prescribing medications to myself as any of my legion of high school guidance counselors can attest.

The day of our departure we arrived at SeaTac International to see the usual back up of angry cars and commuters attempting to get somewhere getting nowhere at all. We had grabbed an Uber down from Wallingford, maybe twenty miles, at a cost of $55. Our driver was a quiet fellow, likely hoping neither of us planned on mugging him. We didn’t mug him, though the mask mandate would have ensured we got away with it if we had.

Rather than sit immobile sucking down exhaust in a car, we hopped out and huddled in the tiny, pathetic smoking area Seattle airport overlords allow us. If I’m going to suck down smoke — and I am — I do it on my terms.

We wouldn’t be allowed to smoke on the plane so we had to get them in while we could. This seems obvious to one born this side of the 21st century. But even I remember smoking on a plane without fear of being tackled by an Air Marshal or any number of Karen figures lurking about the cabin. Paradise lost, replaced with fondlers and friskers and busybodies and Fascist Fairy Godmothers.

Still, security officials always seem lonely to me. You can see it in their eyes and feel it in their hairy, groping hands. There is a certain rushed desperation to the thing. Half of security at airports is Federal employees enjoying their benefits. Their unions may have negotiated it in good faith, but your breasts didn’t have a say.

The line to get molested and frisked by the Federal government was long. It buzzed angrily, like bees forced to submit their genitals to the scrutiny of bored strangers. There didn’t seem to be much movement. TSA lines never move if you watch them. The trick to waiting patiently for your personal violation is to retreat into your Mind Palace. Maybe play a game of Chess with yourself. On this occasion, I won. I don’t always.

After playing with myself a bit, the security checkpoint loomed ahead. It was time for someone else to play with me. We dutifully took off our shoes and masks and anything else intended to keep us from getting sick. Dumped in a tray, our possessions wound their way through a machine of some sort which probably destroyed the hard drive on my laptop.

Megan was funneled through one of those full body scan machines they use to laugh at our penises and vaginas and transitional casseroles. But she did eventually pass through the gauntlet of Federally funded perverts and made it out clean on the other side. Normally, seeing the love of my life violated by strangers like that would incense me. But I’ve lived in Seattle entirely too long to find myself clinging to outdated ideas such as bodily autonomy, privacy, and the expectation to not be groped at any given moment.

I, the more visibly dangerous of us with my horrible haircut and literary ambitions, was simply pushed right along. No scans, no gropes, not even a frown. I suspect the long, unending line behind us had much to do with this non-commitment to security. Security concerns appear to evaporate so long as enough people are attempting to squeeze into a tiny space. Of course, no one has ever accused the TSA of being concerned with security.

I’m not complaining, though I am a bit miffed I wasn’t considered pretty enough to victimize.

We found our gate with tons of time to spare thanks to my overt neuroticisms regarding TSA checkpoints. So we hunted about for food. Our options were Café Darté and some place called The Skillet. The latter offered booze, but a burger went for $18 and no airport burger is worth that. The former had cheaper pizzas available and after getting one we found out why. $22 got Megan a latte and the both of us a horrible, ten inch pizza.

Everyone at the airport is expected to wear masks, vaccinated or not. There are only two exceptions to this. Individuals who are eating or drinking are not required to wear masks while attempting to do that to airport food and drinks. The second exception appears to be individuals who are standing near other individuals who are eating or drinking. A sort of herd immunity kicks in when people are standing within six feet of each other, I suppose. It seems an odd policy, prone to abuse.

For example. A Russian lady carried a conversation on the phone entirely by herself. She stood perhaps two feet from our pizza, itself negligently arrayed on the table we’d miraculously managed to snatch for ourselves. She spoke non-stop. She produced a steady stream of suspect droplets, pregnant with a Russian accent and possibly COVID-19, as she accosted the poor soul on the other end of the line. Presumably, they were in more danger than we were.

You could see a moat of space form around her as other individuals in the airport moved away from her. It was a solid strategy, working its magic on everyone but Megan and myself. We overpaid for our Cardboard and Marinara. We weren’t abandoning our airport pizza to the Russians like Obama abandoned Ukraine. We held that line. Besides, we are vaccinated.

I’m told vaccinations work. I’m also told we can’t produce public health policies which rely on the idea. So masks for all! Even if providing proof of vaccination. This is a part of the suffocatingly statist approach the coward takes toward public health, it seems.

We soldiered through our pizza and Olga’s best attempt at a super spreader event of one. Our plane arrived, we boarded without fuss, and jetted eastward for the thirty minute flight to Spokane. The plane was half empty. Most of the seats were occupied by exhausted pilots also looking to escape the lunacy of the Seattle area. I felt in good company.

We managed to land at Spokane International without a hitch, or a beverage service of any sort, and promptly exited the airport. Immediately sparking cigarettes, we breathed the air of the maskless. Greeted by my sister, we piled into her car and caught up a bit while we drove the final leg over to the cabin my folks retired to some years back.

Situated on the river about seven miles Sandpoint, this is without a doubt the most beautiful country in the country. I have written about it elsewhere, including in my latest book An Ignorant Abroad. On sale now. Best buy it while supplies last, which at its current sales trajectory, appears to be forever.

Immediately upon arrival, we began the long, time honored process of getting completely smashed.

Over the course of this traditional ritual, each of us learned the other have done far more drugs than we ever let on. I’m a big fan of disclosure, once I can’t be punished anyway. I’m a firm believer in the statue of limitations. The opportunity to punish me had passed and I’d already written a book about it anyway.

One wonders which will last longer. Draconian COVID-19 policies or the Milk Crate Challenge-esque stacks of unsold books in my office.

Travel journals from places like India, England, Italy, Holland, Uzbekistan, and the Vans Warped Tour.

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Humor, history, and enough dick and fart jokes to choke a flappy-headed Canadian comedy duo.

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R.B. Lamb

R.B. Lamb

Humor, history, and enough dick and fart jokes to choke a flappy-headed Canadian comedy duo.

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