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May 22, 2005

“Stupid Is As Stupid Does”

Tom McLaughlin

I have problems with directions. Telling my left from my right is difficult and I wear a bangle on my right hand – or is it my left? – and that’s the only way I can keep the two straight.

While living in Malaysia, where the left hand driving is the norm, I wore a huge white cloth on my sleeve while riding my motorcycle to remind me to keep to the proper side of the road. Many people thought I was surrendering as the white flag fluttered behind me.

I need specific directions to get some places. They have to be given slowly and carefully. I often get confused especially with Rt. 40, 40-A, 70 and 270 just as I got mixed up with 13 and 113 on the Eastern Shore. There is a big difference between Baltimore and Washington, Hagerstown and Boonsboro, Dover and Wilmington. When people ask me how to get somewhere, I politely tell them I am not from around here and they should ask someone else. I find this a much safer way after I sent someone up Rt. 40-A to get on 70. I realized two days later my error.

I thought I was the world’s worst until I read about the two guys in an airplane who were “lost” while flying south to an air show. They entered restricted air space and caused a panic by Capitol bureaucrats who think they are so important that the plane was meant personally for them.

The pilot and his student had the nerve to tell everyone they were flying with outdated air maps. If I remember my history correctly, Washington, D.C., has been there for at least 200 years and there has been a no fly zone since World War II. Couldn’t they see the Washington Monument or the Capitol Dome? The paper said they flying by sight. Were they blind? Then they had the arrogance to argue they were “asserting their right to proceed on,” when an air traffic controller told them to divert, according to The Washington Post. I have a feeling their thought process “no bureaucrat is going to tell me what to do” was in full gear.

The profession of one of them is a truck driver. This explains the traveling down 81 where my Rave 4 is often swallowed in the exhaust of one of those monsters. I now know why. They are all lost and have the wrong maps. This accounts for the sudden swerving for an exit. All this time I thought they had to go to the bathroom.

Our “fliers” finally got the message something was wrong when the jets fired four warning flares over the nose of the plane. Never mind the pleadings on the radio. Never mind the two warplanes doing loop-de-loops around them at the vice presidents house. It took flares to tell them something was amiss which reflects their truckers’ experience of seeing the red roman candles set out by police and fire departments during highway emergencies.

For some reason, a customs jet joined the chase. What kind of shine were they were smuggling out of Pennsylvania to risk the wrath of military? It must have been a very special concoction of white lightening. And did they think they could just land on the White House lawn to fill the president’s order?

They finally put down at Frederick Municipal Airport where the three jets screamed overhead with hundreds of news media helicopters in tow. Why they weren’t shot down is beyond me except they may have had the “student flyer” decals plastered on the wings.

Promptly arrested, they were questioned by the Secret Service, let go and rented a car and presumably drove home, where, I hope the flying instructor’s career ended. They were lucky. I would have blown the plane out of the sky long before they reached the Capitol.

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