INDIGNITY VOL. 3, NO. 79: Wheel in the sky.


INDIGNITY VOL. 3, NO. 79: Wheel in the sky.
Photo: Harold Cunningham/Getty Images

MR WRONG: What's Wrong With Air Travel Is I Can't Drive the Plane

I AM GOING to fly in an airplane today. Big fucking deal, I know, but I always have Thoughts when I fly on a heavier-than-air flying machine, because it’s crazy, to do this, it’s way worse-crazy than driving in a car—and I don’t care about the Statistics for how many more people die, die, die, in car crashes as opposed to plane crashes, OK?

In a car, chances are I’m gonna be driving, so I might have a chance to avoid Death, even though I spent a coupla hours watching a really unnerving Twitter feed with nothing but security and dashboard camera clips of bad car crashes, people getting hit outta nowhere, no way to see it coming, no chance, END. I’m not gonna find the link to that for you because then I’ll start watching it again and I won’t file my column, I’m not kidding.

I am supremely confident in my delusion, though. I always think I have a better chance in a car, and it’s only because I’m the one driving, so I have that fighter pilot narcissism thing, I think, where you know you’re The Shit, so there’s no way you’re gonna go fuckin’ SPLAT? I am an excellent driver. Excellent driver!

I can’t tell you how many people I know who are bad drivers, seriously. So many otherwise reasonable people who get behind the wheel and are just wild unsafe. Tailgating, speeding in urban or suburban high-density-busy areas (as opposed to, like, the Jersey Turnpike, where you all drive in the same direction at the speed determined by the Marketplace), not using turn signals, being willingly distracted; those are just the basic components to being a bad driver. Being aggro with other drivers is super-unsafe; yelling at other drivers, horn-honking, just getting yourself totally cranked up and in an aggressive combat mode is a lot of wasted brain-energy better used for operating the motor vehicle safely. People need to fucking relax.

I’m not a nervous driver or passenger, seriously, if somebody is demonstrating reasonable competence in commanding a vehicle and observing most traffic ordinances and common-sense driving behavior, I’m fine as a passenger. It’s people who are bad drivers who put me in an ALERT frame of mind, but if you drive me someplace in a car, I will never tell you how shitty and unsafe you are at driving because I am way too polite!

Plus, if we’re in the car and I whip out my Backseat Drivers License and start talking to you about all the errors you are making in your driving, you’ll probably wanna dispute, and here we go with you being a more-shitty driver allowing your concentration to be split!

Don’t get into a debate with me while you are driving, it divides your focus! Just like if you are driving upwith me in the car and you are doing normal talking, so normal that you are attempting to make eye contact with me, are you insane? Drive the car! Eyes on the motherfucking road! How many shitty cab drivers or Uber or whatever have you seen try to eye-contact you in the rearview while they are blabbering at you? No! Stop looking at me! Bad driver!

And don’t go crazy showing me stuff while we’re driving! A fucking tour guide on a bus is usually not driving the fucking bus! They are standing on the top of the double decker pointing shit out because they don’t have to hold a steering wheel! Don’t fucking look at the roadside thing you want me to look at and certainly don’t fucking point at that thing you want me to look at! And double-don’t try and make eye contact with me to make sure I’m looking at the thing! Did I see the thing? Maybe, while it was generally in the front field of vision in the moving automobile! I’m currently looking at the goddamn road because I’m getting ready to grab the fucking steering wheel! Look at the fucking road! Mention the thing, don’t goddamn fucking use one of your automobile-operating appendages to point at shit!

Meanwhile, of course, there are people out there yammering on their phones, in a not-hands-free manner while driving, all the time, you see ‘em driving by, holding the phone and cruising along, but the worser-than-that thing with the phones in the cars is being distracted by the goddamn Navigation! It is just as bad as being distracted by a call, and can be way more evil, because people jaw-jacking while driving generally aren’t doing Facetime, as in: needing to look at the phone. The Navigation makes people think it's part of driving, but it's inside the screen, where the other cars aren’t. The Waze navigation, especially, keeps dragging people's attention into the phone while it makes "realtime" changes to the lefts and rights and twists and turns for its "best" route. You might as well be playing the candy-game puzzle or whatever!

Anyway, I’m going on a plane trip today, and it’s one with “connecting flights,” which means two takeoffs and two landings, and I’m sitting in the back, flying blind, no steering wheel. Can’t even see the people driving the plane. Am I jinxing myself?


New York City, May 17, 2023

★★★★★ The wind murmured outside the open windows in the night. In the morning, light and shadow danced on the windows. The cat chased a sunbeam bouncing off the cell phone. Leaves tossed and pointed toward downtown. Here was the day for skipping the subway on purpose and taking the extra 10 minutes to walk to the school pickup. A sheet of clear plastic whipped around in a tight, menacing circle in an eddy by a corner. Flying grit went for the eyes; a woman grabbed at her cap as a gust flipped it up and back from her head. Under the cool rush of the breeze, the sun was strong enough to raise warm smells from the grass and the asphalt. A silky little dog, running off leash, strayed toward the goslings in the park and was met by a coiled and furious goose. The dog backed away, lifting its leg on a tussock of grass as it went. A fledgling starling trotted along behind an adult, calling and chirrupping to no visible reaction. The clear sky was for birds to fly across, and the phone was for taking pictures with. Nothing inside the screen was worth looking at. The sixth-grader had missed recess because too many staff were out sick to supervise it. A pair of all-red high-tops twisted on their red laces from the support wires on the arm of a traffic light.


Indignity Morning Podcast No. 70: It will all have to go on a lot longer before we can officially declare failure.

Tom Scocca • May 18, 2023

Listen now (3 min) | The Indignity Morning Podcast is also available via the Apple and Spotify platforms.

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WE PRESENT INSTRUCTIONS for the assembly of sandwiches from More Recipes for Fifty, by Frances Lowe Smith, published in 1921, found in the public domain and available at for the delectation of all.

Cook thinly sliced bacon in oven until crisp and slightly browned. Spread slices of bread with hot bacon fat, then with thin layer of salad dressing; cover with lettuce leaf or chopped tomato, put on crisp bacon, and finish with second slice of bread. Serve at once.

Chop meat fine, or cut in very thin slices. Mix salad dressing or finely chopped mustard pickle with meat, or spread on slices. Put between slices of buttered bread.

If you decide to prepare and attempt to enjoy a sandwich inspired by this offering, kindly send a picture to us at


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