The week of hellish Thanksgiving travel is almost upon us, when news crews will descend upon airports everywhere for their epic updates from the front line: "Breaking, breaking! The airport is really crowded, you guys!"
Those reporters are correct: Before we can lapse into that tryptophan-laced food coma with family and friends, we must travel. And since Turkey Day is secular and more or less universally observed, we must do it en masse.
Last year, the AAA estimated that 42.5 million Americans traveled 50 miles or more from home at Thanksgiving. That's a lot of little dotted lines on the map of the US of A.
Whether you're arriving by train or (more likely) plane or automobile, you're bound to encounter some headaches. And as this column's existence shows, we are nothing if not rude, crabby, shouty beings when challenged, funneling our rage into our various social networks.
Ahoy, travelers: Take a deep breath and vow now to follow these netiquette tips en route.
Tryptophan awaits. Sweet, drowsy tryptophan.
Hit the road unjacked
That was kind of a play on the Percy Mayfield song and mostly a plea to please, for the love of Pete, unplug if you're the driver. That means no talking on your cell, no texting and no looking at your smartphone for any other purpose.
Even if you think you're a Grade A multitasker and you have a really spiffy-looking hands-free earpiece (Hint: It's not actually spiffy-looking), you're incorrect, and you're putting pedestrians and drivers alike in danger.
Research has demonstrated that people talking on cell phones drive as badly as drunks. And those really terrifying Texting Can Wait commercials demonstrate why looking away from the road and engaging your fingers is even stupider.
It isn't just teenagers treating the driver's seat as communication central; 91% of teens have seen their parents talk on the phone while driving, and 59% have seen them text, a recent survey from Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD reported.
Sad indeed. Just don't.
If you're scheduled to fly home (or, well, anywhere) for the holidays, you already know that you're pretty much screwed if weather, technical malfunctions or striking airline employees force a cancellation.
You also know that calling an airline's reservation line when that happens can mean hours of waiting -- or getting disconnected over and over again. Instead of jotting a lengthy and cuss-riddled diatribe on social media, try tweeting, simply and clearly, at the airline itself.
Airlines pay attention to Twitter, and some are able to actually rebook customers and direct message them a confirmation. At the very least, getting a sympathetic tweet back might help.
@Jetblue and @Deltaassist have great reputations for getting stuff done.
Treat the terminal like a library
That is, shut up.
There's nothing more annoying than being trapped with your suitcase at a bus, train or plane terminal directly across from a gabber bellowing into his cell phone about meetings and acquisitions and equity and other such things.
If you're going to talk on the phone, make like a polite smoker and choose a corner or nook, lower your head in shame and exhale into the corner, not the crowd, keeping the (noise) pollution to a minimum.
Heed the flight attendants' directives
Actually turn off your personal electronic devices.
The FDA is serious about this; even in airplane mode, little bleepy things just might interact with equipment, they say.
I know it feels like soooo much work to have to hold the button down AND THEN slide your finger across the front, but, you know. Safety first.
Don't bug anyone's work e-mail
No matter how brilliant the business insight you had during your fourth glass of Glogg, it's not worth logging in to your work account.
This is the one time of year we 9-to-5ers get a food-filled four-day weekend all at the same time. Honor it. Be grateful.
It's what the pilgrims and Native Americans would have wanted.