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#demagogues 

#due_diligence

LENGTH: 2:38

FLAVOR: Swiftian call

Imagine, sitting at the gate, waiting for your flight. We've all been there. Sitting, twirling our thumbs. We are utterly exhausted, for no particular reason other than the simple facts of travel: airports.

     No, I have no checked luggage, thank you. Please don't make me wait behind the average Wal-Mart family of seven as the overweight mother argues with the counter, ransacking her overweight bags for non-necessities while the rest of us stare awkwardly at her screaming, crying children.

     "Thank you for flying with the United States of America!" the buoyant flight-attendant says. She announces this with a flourish—commendable, given the environment, but ultimately futile, like a Pixy-stick on an empty stomach. 

     "Please have your passports, boarding passes, visas, medical records, certificates of purchase, baggage warranties, agreements to our terms and conditions, electric bills, mortgage payments, vehicle licenses, political affiliations and occupation titles ready for security and emigration!"

     Off come our shoes. 

     Belts, buckles, wallets, chains.

     Are there electronics in your bags, sir? Please remove them.

     We cross the threshold, weighed and measured like merchandise. Behind the glass walls we are blasted with questionable doses of X-rays while we hold our hands over our heads like ballerinas. The guards behind us smirk, rifles at their hips. 

     Finally we begin boarding the plane—

     First the captain and most of the flight staff. Then, the exorbitantly rich. Followed by businessmen in sharp suits and those well-connected. After that, the curtains are pulled back and they make a public display of boarding the elderly, those with children and those in wheelchairs. 

     And then us.

     "This is such a wonderful opportunity!" examines the man beside me, as we settle down into our designated seats. "Not the most refined, perhaps—but at least we can count on rude plenty!"

     "And donuts!" cheers another.

     "Don't forget about the donuts!"

     The plane begins to move.

     Even then, some of us suspected something is wrong. Our fears mount to reality as the plane begins to bump and hitch, immediately after take off. "I think I'm going to be sick," a stranger says, behind me.

     Somehow I can't shake the feeling that it's my fault. You know that feeling? Like how sometimes you know you've done something wrong, but you can't place it, it's pushed so far back in the recesses of your mind, behind group-think and private priorities. 

     I don't know. Certainly I can't be the only one?

     The man behind me pukes.

     "Ugh," I raise my feet to avoid the backsplash. Ah, the thoughts we assess, thirty-five thousand feet in the air, and plummeting.

     "I've had it!" someone screams, standing up.

     He unbuckles his obsolete seatbelt. He reaches a fist into the air.

     "Those smug pilots have lost touch with regular passengers like you and me," shouts this turbaned man in his heavy thick accent. "Who thinks I should hijack this plane!?"

     The passengers look to one another, expectantly.

     It reminds me again of my guilt. Is guilt one of the stages of mortal peril?

     "Say, uh," I ask the lady to my right. "When you boarded the plane, did you ... you left your phone on, right?"

     "No, I turned it off. Why?"

     "No reason. What about your other devices?" I squirm. "iPads, laptops?"

     "Airplane mode, sweetie," she says. "Safety first."

     "Oh."

     I look down at my feet—at my clean, white shoes. 

     "What if, hypothetically—"

     "Wait," the woman looks at me suspicious. "You don't mean...?"

     "Well, I—"

     "Holy mother of Trump!" she screams—

     She ducks over, covering the back of her head with her hands—just like the illustration in the safety pamphlets, God bless her—

     "Brace! Brace!" she shrieks.