On Thursday night I did some internet shopping and bought a model of a US Airways Airbus A320. The choice of plane didn't come from a deep knowledge of civil aviation, rather from the fact that it was the cheapest US Airways model plane I could find on Amazon.
But why did I go internet shopping for a US Airways model plane to begin with?
I can't really explain. I was just bitten by an intense desire to own one, ASAP. I have a flight to America booked (with the very same airline) for the seventh of November, and I know that they sell them in the giftshop in Philadelphia airport (where I change planes), but I couldn't even wait that long. (Rather ironically, the delivery estimate is the day before I fly out.)
I've flown to America and back three times now, both flights involving two legs each way, and they were all with US Airways. To my great surprise, I've developed a strange bond with the airline. (Marketing text-books probably feature profiles of my customer type under some heading like The Loyalist or The Keeper.)
I think I mostly like them because of their colours and their corporate aesthetic. I like the so-navy-it's-almost-black shade of blue that is their dominant colour. I like the sleekness of their logo. I like their lettering. I like the balance of red, white and blue in their designs.
I like the whole atmosphere of their flights. I especially like the voices they use in their pre-recorded messages and videos. The male voice always makes me imagine some fellow named Hank or Max, with a square jaw and slicked-back black hair and rolled up shirt-sleeves. The kind of fellow who would clamp your shoulder and call you "Champ".
I even like their in-flight meals.
This purchase goes against all my principles. All of them! I like to think of myself as anti-consumerist, anti-big business, anti-globalization, a sceptic when it comes to technology, and a rare cool head when it comes to the mania for foreign travel. (Foreign travel, as far I can see, is a recipe for filling every picturesque part of the world with kitsch tourist shops and identikit fast-food restaurants.)
In the past I have made rather acerbic comments about people whose t-shirts and baseball caps turn them into walking advertisements for a beer or a sportswear company.
And here I am, panting to get my hands on a promotional toy for a big business responsible for millions of foreign trips every year, eager to have it on my desk so I can go on a mental flight of fancy every whenever my eye falls on it. What a hypocrite.
Still, it's better to be a hypocrite than a prig, I suppose.