Great Airplane Disasters of Our Time
THERE'S a test to assess the level of psychological development of children, to see at what point they get the notion of conservation of mass. You offer them a single item. Then you take an identical item, divide it into bits, and ask them which of the two options they would like to have: one big lump or lots of little lumps. At a certain stage they're supposed to gaze witheringly at you and point out that they're both the same and aren't grown-ups stupid. During my previous career I mostly had to deal with the kind of people who unfailingly opted for lots of little lumps.
Anyway, I don't do that sort of work any more. I decided I was sick of trying to communicate with people to whom one had so speak slowly in words of no more than two syllables strung together in sentences containing only a subject, an object and a verb, and with no dependent clauses. So now I work for a software company and train end users.
I travel quite a bit in this noble pursuit, mostly to vast conglomerates of European food producers. I take a lot of stuff with me: laptop, projector, cables, manuals, user guides and so on. Those articles about packing light always make me laughyou know the sort, how to get through a week with only a couple of slinky silk dresses, a sarong that doubles as a wrap, and a mere seventeen different types of cosmetic. Well, it might help when they develop a slinky Vaio that doubles as a projector, but the Epson and the Tosh, their assorted peripherals and the bags they come in, weigh a ton. Well, about fourteen kilos. I travel club class, mostly because the client pays, but also because they have a greater allowance for carry-on luggage. About ten kilos, as it happens.
Generally, this isn't a problem, especially on the way out. But a couple of times, now, I've come up against some gimlet-eyed martinet doing check-in on the way back, who takes one look at my "hand luggage"a wheeled case of the maximum size allowed as cabin baggageand demands I weigh it, at which point the game is up. A heated conversation then ensues. I tell them how much the two heaviest items, the pc and the projector cost, ask which one they insist I put into the hold, and request their name, rank and serial number. At this point they usually phone their supervisor.
The solution, on two separate occasions, in different countries and airlines, has been their insistence that I break my kit down into its component parts and carry one heavy item separately in its own bag. Then they let me take the lot on as cabin baggage.
Both times, I have lugged my lot of little lumps away out of sight, re-amalgamated them into one big lump and boarded the plane. I hope they never catch me doing this. Because then the plane might crash.
--Giulia De Cesare