Yesterday, my boss returned from a vacation to Hawaii. When I hear the word “Hawaii” I immediately conjure images borrowed from a 1940’s airline advertisement; lazy, crystal blue waves crashing against a golden sand beach, an ominously smoking volcano leering in the background, a gleaming jet plane streaking through a marmalade sky, and most iconically, an enchanting hula girl gently placing a lei around the neck of a happy passenger as he descends from the plane.
My great-grandmother was a travel agent in the 1940’s and sure enough, a glimpse through her photo albums reveals that these poster advertisements were not mere propaganda. Looking through her photos, you’d be hard pressed to find a single passenger without a perfectly tailored suit, glassy polished shoes, and impeccably crafted hair. To travel in the 1940’s was a luxury, and the elegant travel experience matched the momentousness of the occasion.
Long-gone are the days of glamorous travel, at least for the masses. Just as my boss returned from Hawaii, I headed out for my own trip to Atlanta. As expected, the morning of my flight was plagued with the typical follies of modern day travel – never-ending security lines, impatient TSA employees, flight delays. At 6 am, without any make-up on and with my hair tossed into a precariously positioned bun, I certainly was not raising any standards of excellence.
There’s a part of me that wants to feel grateful that the sheer ubiquitousness of travel is what has inevitably made the experience so mundane. How incredible is it that any one, provided they have the means, can buy a ticket, hop on a plane, and arrive at a new destination? But as I finally reached my row on the plane — the one in the very back, next to the toilets — and saw that my middle seat was already being encroached upon by the two linebacker-sized men on either side, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Are we there yet?”
With a Perspective, I’m Natalie Dana.
Natalie Dana is an attorney. She lives and works in San Francisco.