The sun with one eye vieweth all the world. ~Shakespeare
Quirky is an overused word in my vocabulary.
I use quirky to describe independent films, my job, my neighborhood, my foster dogs, some of my students, and most of the men I have dated. You name it and the word usually fits. There are several definitions, my personal favorite includes “having odd or unusual qualities.”
Carhenge is special. Well … not really the right word.
Carhenge is eccentric. Not unless a silk smoking jacket is involved.
Carhenge is kooky. Maybe?
Carhenge is a quirky destination located off the beaten path in Western Nebraska. (That entire part of the state is off the beaten path.)
The trip to Carhenge was a real commitment. I followed GPS. It guided me to cross a train track just as one of the longest, slowest, trains I have ever seen blocked the gravel road for twenty minutes.
Carhenge is reported to be the same dimensions as Stonehenge in England. I have not been to Stonehenge. But, when I do experience the real thing I doubt I will compare it to Carhenge.
The automotive knock off of the ancient ruins happened to be in the exact path of the 2017 solar eclipse. Thus, it is now considered a top roadside attraction. At least by Texans. The parking lot was full of Texas license plates.
I guess a lot of quirky people showed up dressed in costumes to smoke weed, dance, and watch the total eclipse. I was living on Maui at the time and missed the entire event.
The history of Carhenge goes all the way back to 1987. A local farmer and engineer, Jim Reinders, decided to build this monument as a craft project for a family reunion. It took a couple of summers to complete.
The town of Alliance maintained that Carhenge was too quirky and should be torn down.
Now, there are signs proudly proclaiming Alliance Nebraska — The Home of Carhenge. And, the town council voted to maintain the attraction forever.
For the record, I brought my elementary aged children to explore Carhenge on one of our visits to the Heartland. I asked my daughter if she remembered the experience, “ I don’t care,” she responded.
Which is different than having no recollection of the event.
“No, I don’t remember.” The standard reply to questions about vacations and quirky side trips.
On the other hand, Stonehenge would not be described as quirky.
Stonehenge is often described as mysterious. It is aligned with the sun’s path during the summer and winter solstice. So it probably meant something to the Druids of long ago.
But even today, thousands of quirky, weed smoking, costume clad dancers show up to watch the sun rise during the summer solstice celebration.
I hope to visit Stonehenge. It’s on my long list of places to go once the global pandemic is over, and citizens of the world remember how to behave on an airplane.
Behaviors not described as quirky:
A passenger punched a flight attendant in the face and broke her two front teeth. She was asked to sit down and put her seat belt on during landing. But this passenger was so special, she refused.
Anyone who has ever been on a plane knows wearing a seatbelt during landing is a hard, fast, safety rule.
An off duty flight attendant tried to choke a member of the flight crew. He refused to sit down. He walked the aircraft opening and closing all the overhead bins. He stashed weird stuff, like a tennis ball in the bin. He wrote a note and passed it to a crew member alerting her that a terrorist was seated somewhere on the plane. (Other than him.) The pilot finally asked able bodied men passengers to help the crew subdue the kook.
An incident occurred when an eccentric passenger attacked a flight attendant for not picking up her trash fast enough. The attack resulted in several injuries for the crew member, and the passenger ended up in federal court. Yes, there are laws to prohibit assaulting anyone on an airplane. EVER!
A woman was reminded she couldn’t use the bathroom while the plane was taking off, so she physically attacked the flight attendant which resulted in the flight being diverted. Then, her boyfriend scuffled with other passengers and the officers who were called to remove the couple from the flight.
Since the beginning of the year, there have been 2, 500 reports of passenger noncompliance, crew assault, and other behaviors considered to be against safety policies.
Recently, a friend of mine flew from Omaha to Washington D. C. On the return flight the lead crew member thanked the passengers profusely for being “cooperative and respectful.” She told the plane load of people that they were “appreciated” because the crew “has had a really rough time.”
Now, airline passengers are being publicly thanked for not behaving like they are mentally ill or downright criminals?
Several years ago, I considered quitting my job as a special education teacher. (A little too quirky.) At the time, an airline was recruiting mature people to be part of the crew. They had retention issues with younger employees. Because I loved to travel, and enjoyed meeting people, I contemplated making a career change. Thankfully, I talked myself out of it.
Over the years, I have flown thousands of miles on a variety of airlines as I lived in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Flying was the only alternative to swimming. Never, have I encountered such crazy people. Who are they? Where did they come from? What the hell is going on?
Driving 2,497 miles through quirky parts of the United States of America beats the hell out of being stuck on an airplane with an unhinged passenger. (Or two.)
I’ll take quirky over unhinged any day.