I took my first post-pandemic trip recently, visiting family in Florida and Missouri, and promptly got sick. That freaked me out more than a little, although I tested negative for the coronavirus, but it also reminded me of what it was like to be sick at all.
I’ve been so isolated that I hadn’t even had a mild cold since 2019. This one was a payback, a virus that circulated through all the fun spots in my head — eyes, nose, ears, sinuses and throat — taking a swing at each. And it reminded me that travel is still a risk.
The airports I visited, especially in Tampa, were basically germ factories. Tampa was jammed to the walls with delayed travelers, many showing their machismo or superior health care knowledge by wearing chin diapers or nothing at all. The flight from Tampa to St. Louis featured an attendant reminding us over the PA not once, not twice, but three times to raise our masks — the last time noting that passengers agreed to do this as part of buying a ticket. (Interestingly, on the flight from St. Louis to DC, an attendant came on to think everyone for not having to be nagged about the face masks. She was obviously unaccustomed to this.)
Airports are just a creepy mess now. Airlines can’t handle the traffic they’re getting, but that’s not stopping them from taking everyone’s money, and that pent-up wanderlust coupled with unvaccinated kids and chosen-to-be-unvaccinated adults is a bad combo platter. I’m flying again next month and I’m already plotting the ways I can reduce the misery. I’m not optimistic.