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(Sings) ‘Hellohh, I am your mind’

Katherine Khorey | Tuesday, March 31, 2009

In a far more idealistic time, I swore never to begin a column with the words, “As I sprawled out to write this column, I said to myself, ‘Self? What blissfully optimistic aspect of humanity are we going to go frolicking in this week?’

“And Self said, ‘Katherine, you need to get out more.’

“But then I didn’t. So here’s the semi-weekly frolic.” Etc.

Several months later, having produced approximately one column that didn’t involve frolicking, the resolve to avoid this beginning is hanging by one very weak thread.

So as I sprawled out to write this column, I said to myself,

“You know what, Self? We’ve been travelling all over the place this past week. We’re drained and exhausted. We have no sense of time or place right now. We’re just relieved that we’ll likely not be waiting in another airport check-in line at a ridiculously early hour until Holy Thursday. We sincerely hope we will not be eaten by Rome on Easter weekend.

“But you know what, Self? There’s something we can be sort of proud of, and if we don’t get smug about it, it might just spawn a column.”

And Self said, “Seriously, Katherine. Stop dissociating.”

But then I didn’t. “Self, since very early in 2009, we have not set foot on a RyanAir flight. And we should, just for us, try to keep it that way. This column, Self, can explain what that all means.”

Self rolled her eyes and went out for a Mudslide.

***

For those of you who aren’t where I am, RyanAir is a budget airline, useful for inter-European travel, whose type of advertising and service suggests it considers its patrons no more than piggy banks desperate to be squeezed.

To claim a flight costs zero Euro and then slowly add up “extra” cost is a sin of many airlines, and a tactic that should fool no one with common sense. But RyanAir – which, by the way, will be shortly charging you to use the on-flight lavatories – pulls it off with an especially tacky flair.

The inside of a RyanAir plane is brightly plastered with advertising for itself. Now that you’re here, asks the placard on the seat in front of you, don’t you want to pay another “zero” Euro to come back and stare at this same placard next time?

While you’re waiting to take off, you’ll listen to a repeated commercial for something akin to Fruit2O (for sale on board). And doesn’t that just sound refreshing after all the airport stress?

Actually, no. What would be refreshing would be to pay my 50-some Euro up front and thus honestly charged, then enjoy some post-airport relaxation amid cloud grey, navy blue and soothing classical music. And a reasonably priced Sprite – in this economy, “complimentary” may be too much to ask – wouldn’t go down so badly either.

There are budget airlines out there that still offer almost that experience (except for the upfront charges). They treat customers as people, and not chromatically stimulated ATMs. And these are the ones I will patronize.

Will one person’s defecting from RyanAir affect the company at all? Probably not.

But by defecting, has said person reasserted some measure of personhood?

I speak only for Self and I. But I think so.

***

Of course, if you couldn’t care less what the inside of your plane looks like, so long as you make it to Paris in one piece, more power to you.

Although there could be something else that makes you feel a bit dehumanized. Maybe it’s something that no one else in your world seems to care about. But if your feelings are legit, and asserting them causes no damage, then why not act?

Just act effectively.

I’d accomplish nothing if I only wrote this column to complain about RyanAir, but hadn’t stopped giving it money. Convincing others is one thing, but what’s the point if you don’t do it for yourself first?

A case in point: Maybe spending weekends as an anonymous saliva receptacle isn’t as fulfilling as you’d like, and neither can you think of any face you’d be totally happy to see at the other end of the Basilica aisle in the near future. Maybe you’d still like a little romance, but you’d be best off, for now, on a middle ground.

Just make that middle ground. Repeat after me: “Taylor, I really enjoy being around you, and I’d like to be there more often. Want to hit up Barnes and Noble for Italian sodas on Saturday?”

And then, no matter what Taylor answers – even if you’re clearly too short for her, or he’s only interested in C-cups or above – you’ll have made the leap. And you, your personhood, your self, will be stronger for it.

***

“See, Self?” I said, as she poured two coffees. “That’s why we’re flying Aer Lingus from now on. So that you won’t disappear on me. So that even if someone, say, directly threatened to turn our college graduation into a circus, you’d be strong enough that it’d be impossible. I’m going to make you strong, Self. Isn’t that why we’re here?”

“It’s not just about us, Katherine.” Self cut her bran muffin into quarters.

“I know. But it’ll help make it about everyone. Did you want some blueberry jam on yours?”

Katherine Khorey is a junior studying English and Russian at Trinity College, Dublin. She can be contacted at kkhorey@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer