I was flying to St. Louis to attend the SIIA Workers’ Compensation Executive Forum, and as so often seems to be the case, struck up a pre-flight conversation with several seat mates on the plane. 

It started with questions regarding the flight attendant safety speech, when I openly wondered whether there was anybody left on earth who does not know how to fasten a seatbelt. It quickly degenerated from there. Several others provided examples of similarly ridiculous traditions and practices that generally cause befuddlement if you bother to actually think about them. This was an eye opening conversation, and I felt it worthy of further reflection. I have thereby assembled a collection of odd and hard to explain traditions and practices in our society today. A couple of them are indeed items suggested by my seat mates, and I must take a moment to honor the contributors from Southwest Airlines Flight 1172. This one is for you.

Therefore, without further ado, I present to you my list of the top 10 things that cause me general befuddlement and bewilderment. If you are paying attention, they should do the same for you. Please make sure your seat backs are pulled forward and your tray table is locked in the upright position:

  1. The Aforementioned Flight Attendant Safety Presentation – I realize this function has a purpose, but the practice could use a little updating. I know how to buckle my seatbelt, thank you, and believe me, if I ever have to use that oxygen mask, I will be doing anything other than “breathe normally”. It’s not like anyone is paying attention, anyway. Everyone is too busy pretending to turn off their phones and electronic devices.
  2. Braille on Drive Up ATM’s – Really? We now have to have braille on ATM’s that can only be accessed by car? What could the braille possibly say – “Congratulations, you’ve made it this far”?
  3. Alcohol Swab on the Death Row Inmates Arm – This is a seat mate contribution, and a worthy one it is. Why do they swab a death row inmates arm with alcohol to prevent infection just before they give him a lethal injection? In fact, I would go one step further, and suggest this is an area of potential cost savings for any state engaged in this practice (most notably Texas). In fact, not only can they stop buying rubbing alcohol, but the same needle can probably be used repeatedly. They could even give it an endearing name, similar to Florida’s now considered inhumane electric chair “Old Sparky” (one inmate catches fire and you’re labeled for life). Just a suggestion, but we could call this repeat hypodermic “Old Squirty”.
  4. The TSA Airport Security Procedure – It may be my imagination, but TSA seems to be getting friendlier in recent months. Irregardless, the security scan air passengers are forced to endure is sheer imagery in motion; or perhaps I should say “imagineering in motion”. It is all about the illusion of safety. While we passengers are standing stripped to our skivvies, bombarded with radiation and preparing for an extended colonoscopy while our shoes and belts are x-rayed to check their structural integrity, Achmed, who has been in America for one week and worked at the airside sandwich shop for 3 days, flashes his employee card and waltzes on through. Someone should look at that. Really.
  5. Stay Tuned for Scenes From Next Week’s Episode – It is at the very end of many shows – they always say that, but rarely deliver. Why do they waste my time?
  6. Warning Label to Remove Child Before Folding Stroller – Seriously, they have to do this? They place a warning label on baby strollers advising parents that they should remove their child before collapsing the stroller and stuffing it in the trunk or overhead bin. I say scrap the label. Let any idiot who would do such a thing crush their child. It will stop the insanity and prevent defective seeds from propagating further.
  7. May We Have Permission To View Your Account? – This one is now popular with my phone company. Whenever I have to call them they now have to ask permission to view my account. Seriously? Who says “no”? Presumably, if I call for help with my account, I would expect you to actually view my account. What am I missing here?
  8. Hot Content Warnings – The pizza box warns me the pizza is hot. The coffee cup warns me the coffee is hot. And the list goes on. Frankly I worry far more about the people who NEED those labels than I do the labels themselves. Their parents clearly heeded the label warning to remove them from the stroller prior to folding.
  9. People Who Answer Anything Other Than “Fine” When Asked How They Are Doing – A total violation of an expected social construct. When we say, “How are you?”, it is merely the exercise of a required social convention. We don’t really care. You are supposed to answer “Fine” and let everyone move on with their self absorbed day. So unless you just lost both arms in a freak industrial shredder accident and need help to stop the bleeding, say “fine”. Everyone will be better off for it.
  10. And finally, They’ll Let Any Idiot Have a Blog – Bewildering and befuddling. Totally.

Those are 10 of mine. Use the comment section below to add yours!

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