In March of 2020 I spent three plus liquor filled days in Scottsdale with my friend Kent. We took in three Cubs games in Spring Training, a lifelong dream for us both, and we had a blast. The day after I came home Major League Baseball, and every other professional and amateur sport, cancelled their seasons because of this new virus going around called Covid 19.
Since March of 2020 the numbers of people affected by this are staggering. Worldwide over 600 million people have been infected and almost 6.5 million have died. Here in the US, we've had 95 million people infected and have lost around 1.1 million of our family and friends.
Other than to go to the store or the doctor, and the occasional random chore, I have not left my house for over two years. I certainly have not vacationed outside of the Coachella Valley since then either. Tomorrow I am leaving here to go celebrate the 70th birthday of a good friend in Ohio, and I am unsettled about the trip.
The Mayo Clinic published an article about anxiety and Covid-19 and they said that, surveys show a major increase in the number of U.S. adults who report symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia during the pandemic compared to surveys before the pandemic. I never thought I had been affected by all this until I started getting closer to get away day for this trip.
I have never been a nervous traveler, certainly not since I did it for a living for around thirty years, so these feelings are all new to me and they make me uncomfortable. My gut tells me that there is nothing to worry about but my head, particularly that vast empty space between my ears, tells me a different story.
I'm particularly concerned about unruly passengers. The number of reported cases has exploded so far this year and it seems that everyone is on edge daily at our airports and in the skies. In 2021 the industry reported 183 incidents of unruly passengers. So far, thru July, in 2022, that number has shot up to 1081 reported cases. I'm not a math guy but that seems like a gigantic increase.
Why the drama this year? In 2020 there was a huge number of pilots that retired and haven't been replaced. The airlines are trying to maintain their flight schedules with a skeleton crew and it isn't working. Flight cancellations in the first half of 2022 are already more than there were in all of 2021, and the numbers are growing.
Airlines have adopted a new marketing strategy of doing all they can do to make the travel experience for passengers as miserable as possible. Many airlines have changed their corporate mission statements to that classic phrase, "We're not happy until you're not happy."
Throw in weather delays, parents traveling with out of control kids, and the unusually high number of drunks who refuse to listen to flight attendants and it is easy to see how travel is out of control. All of this is concerning but is it the real reason I'm unsettled?
I don't think so. I think it has more to do with the fact that I have settled into a different lifestyle of staying at home and not going out into public as much as I used to. I am starting to see how some people can develop agoraphobia. The cocoon you build up around yourself can creep upon you and engulf you before you even realize what is happening.
Will I get through all this, of course I will. If I can survive my nutty family and not need therapy then I can certainly get through my Covid trap. (Ok, maybe I should have phrased that, "not have" instead of "not need".) The point is that I need to get out more than I have been and start to venture away from the six blocks around my house that I set as my boundary.
Steve and Jenny Romine are looking forward to my visit, at least that is what they are saying to my face, who knows how they really feel, so here I come. Get the boat in the water, on Buckeye Lake, and let the bar hopping commence. I may need a hug or two so get ready for that also, Steve, step aside I wasn't talking to you.