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Help! Save me from the mobility crisis!

April 27, 2010

Don't look over your shoulder. The mobility crisis may be coming for YOU.

They’re calling the volcano a crisis.

They’re calling it the “ash crisis,” so as not to confuse it with the financial crisis, the mortgage crisis, or the crises of character of various politicians.

Yes, the recent Icelandic volcano eruption has directly affected the plans and quality of sleep of millions of travelers. Yes, it has cost airlines billions of dollars. Yes, Eyjafjallajökull has, with its daunting amalgamation of consonants, struck fear into the hearts of crisp-speaking broadcast journalists around the world. But is it really a crisis?

Is it a crisis like when a 100-foot ocean wave wipes away entire villages? Is it a crisis like when a brutal dictator decides to eliminate a race of people? Is it a crisis like when a government uses fear tactics of questionable ethicality to build support for an unjust war?

If the inability to travel constitutes a crisis, I guess we car-free folks experience crisis on a daily basis.

Sometimes, we can’t stay out after midnight, because the buses don’t run that late. Sometimes, we can’t go to the grocery store until afternoon when it’s warm enough to bike there. And sometimes—train strikes, subway accidents, rainy days—we can’t go anywhere at all. Funny, I don’t feel like I’m in a crisis situation.

Admittedly, I’m neither a volcano-affected traveler nor a potentially volcano-affected airline employee. I also realize that being stuck in an airport during a volcano is a lot different than being stuck at home on a rainy day. Still, we have to keep things in perspective.

Temporary immobility does not keep us from living.

My sister, who is studying in Belgium, was in China on a class trip when the earth split in Björk’s homeland and was subsequently told that she wouldn’t be boarding a flight to Europe before the passing of a fortnight—literally “Shanghaied” she was. Last I heard from her she had just gotten her hair cut, had found a great deal on a bikini, and was packing her bags for a weekend at the beach.

My other sister, who lives in Germany, is hosting guests from the U.S. who were forced to extend their stay an extra four days. What are they doing? Enjoying a little more German beer.

Shouldn't we feel just a little bit grateful that our travel itineraries were the only casualties?

When a thunderstorm knocks the electricity out, we light candles and play card games. When a blizzard snows us in, we bundle up and grab a sled. When faced with adversity, we get creative, make lemons into lemonade, etc. The volcano-affected travelers can do the same, and I’m confident that many of them have.

And now, as the ash is clearing, we can see that this geological explosion was really only a fender-bender. When a mile-long fissure rips open in the earth’s surface and flaming rock and magma are hurled thousands of feet into the air, you might expect someone to get hurt—but no one did! As we take stock of our situation, let’s remember and be grateful for this fact.

Time, money, and patience were lost, but WE’RE ALL OK.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. pawl permalink
    May 7, 2010 5:03 pm

    My sister was stuck in Paris for an extra few days. Oh, the humanity.

  2. avaerewyck permalink
    May 8, 2010 9:13 am

    And I’ll bet she took the opportunity to get in a few more strolls on the Seine instead of pouting in her pension.

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