The word "travel" comes from the same root as the word "travail," meaning "hard and painful labor." This is not a coincidence.
The Wandering Eye is enduring travel/travail this week as we head back East to spend Thanksgiving with relatives. We won't dwell on the arduous labors of going through security, schlepping luggage for miles through airports, sitting for hours in an airplane seat that would cramp a 6-year-old and arriving in New York to find that your bags have been sent to Atlanta. You know all about that stuff.
What we want to write about in this post is the ubiquitous, inescapable, obnoxious presence of televisions.
We arrived at roughly 7:15 am yesterday in Seattle, where we had to catch our non-stop to the East Coast. We had a layover of about 90 minutes. We had been awake since 4 am, and we were looking forward to maybe napping for a few minutes, or at least relaxing with our book and our iPod.
No way. There was a huge flat-screen TV hanging over the waiting area, and CNN was blasting away at top volume. (While we're on the subject, why is it that the hosts of morning news/ talk shows SCREAM every word? Do they figure they have to wake people up? Or are they buzzed from 90 cups of coffee?)
There didn't seem to be any overwhelming public demand for TV in the waiting area. There were probably a couple of hundred people there, and we didn't see more than a dozen of them watching it. But there it was, and there was no way to turn it off or turn it down.
This morning, in the hotel where we're staying - otherwise a pretty nice place, BTW - we went downstairs to enjoy the complimentary breakfast. Sure enough, there was another big flat-screen TV blasting away. At 7 am.
We were luckier this time, though - the remote was available and we were able to turn the damn thing off.
Why do the people who run airports and hotels think they have to keep everybody "entertained" (whether they want to be or not) with non-stop TV? Do they think we're like the mental asylum inmates in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" who need to have the TV on all the time as a sort of pacifier? Do they think we're all drooling cretins who can't occupy ourselves for even a few minutes without some external distraction?
If they think those things, they're wrong. And if they think there are large numbers of us who find incessant TV blather a pain in the ass, they're right.
Pull the plug on the bloody things. Please.