When Trombones Fly

The trombone box

Recently I embarked on a trip and a surprisingly annoying project: transporting a trombone across state lines with the help of commercial aviation.

To check or not to check? That was the question. Would the overhead compartments really fit my trombone despite the fact that the case was larger than the officially stated limit of “45 linear inches”? If I checked the trombone, would the baggage monkeys mangle it beyond recognition, delivering me a pile of mangled brass later?

As a hedge against the airline insisting I do it anyway, I finally decided to check the trombone. A specially constructed box was used for further protection of the Pro Tec trombone case. This “special construction” consisted of three taped together boxes, but the key feature of the enclosure was the yellow tape that bore the Italian phrase “Fra-gile” written in Sharpie marker.

What happened, you might ask? The box performed well on the trip, but a funny thing happened in the Boston airport on the way back. A friendly airline employee was inspecting the trombone box while I looked on. He paused. Was he trying to decipher the Italian? He said, “You know, you probably could have just brought this on the plane as a carry-on.”

China’s Gunpowder Finally Does the Trick

Chinese Astrounauts Hereos' welcome

What follows is a first-person transcription of trash-talk directed at China. It was spoken snarkily by someone at the head office. Don’t worry, it’s not like anyone in China is ever going to read it. Also, everyone at the front office knows that most of things in the front office were Made In China.

“So, the Chinese spacemen just returned to earth. It’s amazing. In the late sixties, the United States got astronauts to The Moon using calculations done on slide-rules. Forty years later, China went for their own space-jaunt with their own technological handicaps: the rocket they used to escape earth’s gravity was apparently dipped in lead paint, and the astronaut’s energy drinks were spiked with melamine. Maybe later they can get an under-age gymnast to break her record without any gravity at all?”