Thursday, June 21, 2007


I wrote this poem just ten years ago - It seems people not only have delays, and extensive security checks, they get stuck on the runway for 5 to 8 hours at a time, and who knows what may overflow down the isle during a flight.

A friend of ours lives in a condo overlooking the intercoastal waterway in Miami Beach, with a view of Miami looking toward Downtown and Miami International Airport. When the large jets would be taking off months after September 11, one would get an anxious feeling and connotation. In this poem there was mention of only one accident where an older plane crashed into the everglades.

This was a creative way of dealing with frustration, and a nice exercise in people watching...


This poem was composed on the 24 of May, after 2 flights were canceled , resulting in almost a 24 hour delay in returning home from Dulles Airport via Atlanta, over the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend in 1996. While some of the humor may be cynical and a bit on the morbid or black side, it is only for the purpose of poetic license, and not meant to offend any individuals or groups. When you lose both time and a day of business, one must take a humorous attitude toward life.

Perhaps the Value Jet disaster was a reflection of the cost cutting, downsized, over efficient, depersonalized , bottom line oriented productivity of the 90's. Perhaps the tragedy bespoke a backlash to the long term effects of contemporary managerial paradigms affecting government and private industry. When one of the two new stretch DC 9's landed in Atlanta, there were numerous grounded jets on the tarmac. It was amazing that so many "defective" planes escaped the government inspectors. And if there is a shortage, how safe is it to fly other airlines. Either way the flights were packed. Perhaps Value Jet was the safest airline to fly that weekend.

I have no penchant to be insulting or rude

Nor it is fun to be frustrated or brood

When I awoke this morning in Reston at 5

It was a bit of an early joy to be alive

I stayed over that night at a splendid hotel

Stoically, I rationalized last night's canceled VJ flight ,

rather than Qvell

At Dulles, after another 60 min. delay, avoiding a dose mylanta

My VJ flight swooped down like a wounded phoenix on Atlanta

Thinking of flying into Ft Lauderdale , closer to the Equator

I really hoped my flight would leave at 11:30, just an hour later

Things just did not go well

This wasn't purgatory, it was another descent into VJ hell

The regulatory system related to this mashuganah delay

Was either a witch hunt, or a superb job by an election year FAA

I heard we're going to eventually get a plane, but don't hold your breath

On a holiday , flying a crowded discount airline beset by age, tragedy, & death

One might imagine that a 29 year old DC9, might be reasonably sound

Until you heard that day,inspectors kept over 10 on the ground

In comparative terms, if I were to rate flying this airline

VJ 's crews and probably underpaid staff were superlatively fine

Consider equipment age and maintenance cost -cuts may affect the bottom line

While my wife was waiting for me in Ft. Lauderdale on a day that was hot and clammy

My second canceled flight got superseded by a standby fare to Miami

Thus for a business day that got blown and turned out crappy

At least I got home in one piece and was semi happy

In retrospective mood rather pensive

There's the old adage that cheap fares often end up expensive

Rumors, confusion, angry words --- human clash and clutter

Then there's the black-humored joke about what one everglades alligator

said to another - Now get clued

The answer: Not bad for Airline food

While I was not the author of a riddle so offensive and rude

Denial and fear of death are in these words imbued

Then there was the in-flight humor that could be swept out with a broom

Today's contest winner got back her wallet lost in the bathroom

In a crowded, only decade old, DC9 stretch 80, an imaginary mile high club

Would only be an impractical flub

The only possible answer rhymes with the brand name elantra

This could only be described in a future poem entitled restroom cabin tantra

To pull this off in the 90's would be recklessly neat

First hint , the protected male would have to sit, without losing his wallet

down the wrong hole, on the seat

Ah, with such an abundance of wisdom and pearls

Alas we can thank VJ for bringing back handsome guys and pretty girls

VJ's planes are packed and the aisles are difficult through which to pass

Occasionally one's shoulders can get rubbed by a preferential lass

Ah Yes, on VJ it's great to land alive

Even if your delay is an hour, or two, or three, or more than five

Value-Crock, Carrajo-Jet, Schlock-Jet, any name implying detriment

Having got through this day, I'll doff my hat and salute VJ's management

With modest words, hardly professorial

May G-d bless those doomed swamped souls on this weekend memorial

So while I had my chance to shoot my verbal wad

It must have been for some reason that on takeoff and landing,

did the passengers cheer and applaud

In actuality the flight to Miami was a splendid ride

I'll further salute VJ's staff for their positive outlook, professionalism,

chutzpah, and pride

Would I ever take VJ another time and another day ?

Hopefully VJ will survive the lawyers, insurance premiums, bad press , and the FAA

The poetic words & frustrated venting, with which I love to play

For lost business, time, meals, and hotel room, Value Jet will never pay

It was the journey and the people I loved to watch that were the most fun

I conclude now as the wheels of my flight touch the runway ,

in this city of never ending tourists, humidity, I-95 , and high UV sun.

Delayed timetables one should never berate

While waiting on the taxiway for an open gate

With delays like these, beepers, cell phones, the virtual office, are of little or no avail

All I can do is ponder, pass gas under the cover of jet engine noise,

while planning tonight's e-mail

Shel Stein


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