Jonathan Rauch daydreams:
"Hello! Thank you for calling Air Health Care, the airline that works like the health care system. My name is Cynthia. How can I give you travel care today?"
"Hi. My name is Jonathan Rauch. I need to fly from Washington, D.C., to Eugene, Oregon, on October 23."
"Yes, I'd be happy to assist you with that. It does look like we can get you on a flight on January 23 at 1 p.m. or February 8 at 3 p.m. Which would you prefer?"
"Neither. I need to be in Eugene on October 23. As in, the 23rd of October."
"I'm sorry, we have nothing open on that date. You might try another carrier."
"I suppose I'd better. Who has availability?"
"I'm afraid I have no way to know that. I have no way to look into their systems."
"Who would know?"
"You can call them individually and ask. I'm sure you can find one."
"Look, I don't have time to call two dozen airlines. It's important that I get to Eugene on the 23rd. There must be something you can do."
"Well, it looks like maybe we could squeeze you in on October 26, if you don't mind departing Washington Dulles at 5:35 a.m."
"Good grief. All right, I suppose it will do."
"Great, thank you, I'll be happy to make that booking for you. That's one flight from Washington Dulles to Chicago O'Hare on October 26. Will there be anything else?"
"Wait, hold on. Chicago? I'm going to Eugene. It's in Oregon."
"Yes, sir. The Eugene portion of your trip will be handled by a western specialist. We'll be glad to bring you back from Chicago to Washington, though."