As a kid―and a nascent nerd―in the late-80s/early-90s, I used to collect airline timetables, that magical tome of times and places that would transport you from Caracas to New York to Frankfurt to Rangoon and back with the flip of a few pages.
My first timetables were from domestic carriers that flew to my hometown of Jacksonville: Piedmont, Delta, Eastern, USAir. I especially loved the American Airlines timetables because they were thick with flight schedules and included shaded airport maps and detailed seat diagrams of planes like the Airbus 300 and MD-11.
Soon, I hit the phone book and dialed the 800-numbers of every airline listed: British Airways, Canadian International Airlines, Air Afrique, Varig, Thai Airways International. By the time I hit age 10, I pressed my parents incessantly to take me to the airport whenever we went to Orlando so I could bum timetables from strange-sounding foreign airlines like Alitalia, LACSA, and Lufthansa. I even had timetables from tiny operations like Air Nauru, Air Malta, and Aero California.
By my teenage years, my collection of timetables (and travel guides and AAA city maps) began to overflow the raggedy file cabinet my mom had brought home from school, and their pressure for me to just throw all that crap out became more and more intense. Eventually it all went into the trash, just as the internet took off and all but a scant few airlines stopped printing their flight schedules in book format. In the end, my parents forced me to destroy a collection of items―obtained for free―that now would be worth hundreds of dollars each. I remind them of this each time I hit them up for money.
Now I’m relegated to much bulkier in-flight magazines. They just aren’t the same.
What did you geek out about as a kid?
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