If Tom Crean could get his players to play defense that close no one would ever score against the Hoosiers. That is my impression of flying economy, on the cheap, coach, on Skinflint Airlines to Europe.
Such was my experience with the team on another mission trip to Eastern Europe. The time there was wonderful and much good was accomplished. It was inspiring and tiring. The most difficult aspect of the experience was traveling.
We flew United from Indy to Dulles and then Austrian Air to Vienna. There is such a difference in flying business or first class and back with the unwashed peasants. There is a curtain between that is stronger than the Berlin Wall, more effective than the DMZ in Korea. Unlike Moses we were not even allowed to gaze over into the Promised Land but we did grab a quick glance. They had a Jacuzzi, a ping pong table, a chef in white jacket with drooping chef hat on a barbecue cooking lamb-kabobs and porter house steaks. They dined on trout almandine, baked Alaska, shrimp cocktails and Rock Cornish hens. Each passenger had a huge padded heated seat with cup holders, vibrators, foot rests and a 55 inch television with a choice of 88 channels. The seat reclined into a queen size bed with eider down pillows and a Bavarian duvet with soft music to soothe the weary sojourner.
The seats in economy were made of unpadded, rough sawn two by fours with splinters that would make the Tin Man Weep. There were 10 seats in a row compared to two in first class. Have you ever tried to eat with you elbows strapped to your side with forearms like a praying mantis? I felt like I was on a gurney on the way to surgery. Ron, Bob and I were seated in the middle island. I was so close to Ron that during the meal when his elbow bent my mouth popped open. We had two milligrams of broccoli stems, two hummingbird tongues, three teaspoons of rice, a crouton for bread and my salad was a piece of celery found in the overhead bin last week.
Airline seats come in one size -- one bucket designed for a man with a flamenco "dairy air." Unfortunately my bucket is at least a size three or a bit larger than Orson Welles in the last years of his life. When I installed my rear end in that seat all the fat on my hips, stomach and abdomen scrunched upward until I looked like Dolly Parton on steroids. Two somewhat distracted passengers looking for storage placed their carry-on bags on my more than ample enhancements. I charged them a baggage handling fee.
It is eight plus hours from Dulles to Vienna so we tried to sleep. I slept like a rock; a limestone boulder going through the crusher being turned into pea gravel. When we arrived I felt like I had been shot through an orchard and hit every tree.
Larry grew up north of Calvertville on a farm and graduated from Worthington High School and Indiana State University. He can be reached at Goosecrick@aol.com or (317) 839-7656. Write him at 6860 Sunrise Drive, Plainfield, Ind., 46168. He has written five books.