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Homeward bound: Head ’em up, move ’em out

My amazing eight days in Seoul — which I’ll tell you a thing or two about in the days ahead — are over, and I’m almost home.

One more flight to go, from San Francisco to Baltimore, and that’s not for another few hours, giving me time to sit in the airport and reflect on things such as why we humans transport ourselves much like we transport our livestock.

Why is it those in charge of moving us non-grade A/non-first-class humans from one place to another feel we must be cramped and sweaty, packed in like these pick-up truck pigs I snapped a picture of in Yongin, about 40 miles south of Seoul.

Sure, we humans get beverage service, and perhaps headsets to listen to music, and reclining seats, but other than that — and the fact that we’re not slaughtered when we reach our destination — the experiences have some parallels. And if we were to look at subways, there’d be even more.

Subways are cheap and fast and, as crowded as those in Seoul could get, I never found myself resentful about feeling like part of the herd. With airline travel, because of the hefty cost and all the extra hassles, I’m more likely to oink about it.

I wonder if it might send a message if we all took to mooing and squealing as we trudged through the line on our way through the airport security chute. Or should we just be thankful that they don’t use cattle prods  to speed us along?

Granted, the average economy airline seat offers more room than these pigs get — but not much more, especially if the passenger in front of you has his seat fully reclined.

Fortunately, I slept through most of my last 10 airplane-seat hours — and I hope to do the same for most of the upcoming six. It’s not exactly quality sleep, what with some stranger’s elbow in your side, but it makes the time go by, and allows you to recover from the treatment you’ve just received from the security wranglers.

I think that’s why, even when one sleeps for the entire journey, one is still exhausted upon arriving home — the stress and cramped conditions of air travel. Still, I’m grateful for this much:

When I get to my final destination I might be toast. But at least I won’t be bacon.