It’s the time of year when leaves start falling, the temperature begins to drop, and I get a week of vacation. Vacation. Vacate. Get out of town. Yup. . . TRAVEL.
Although I am not much on traveling, I LOVE to fly. There is something about it that still brings me wonder well into my adulthood. I know it’s not magic, yet the capability of a multi-ton non flapping bird to move hundreds of miles an hour, thousands of feet in the air seems so extraordinary. Often, however, the delight of the physical flight is unmatched by the people watching that can be done in airports and the confinements of the flying winged can. Beginning my excursion with a 7 hour delay for a broken windshield wiper, provided a great launching point for observation:
Gate agents: While my flight was delayed, so were two others. A seven hour delay is a great time for customer service to shine, or for a gate agent to announce to a crowd at the next gate that the reason their flight is delayed is due to their flight attendant oversleeping in her hotel room. The gate agents for my flight found us blankets to keep warm, and the airline bought us all breakfast. You could cut the tension, but they really did a great job. The agents at the next gate had to retract their oversleeping comment when the attendant came in to a very boo-hiss heckling. I’m sure someone received some coaching on their professionalism.
Flight attendants: This job has to be like herding multiple groups of drunk cats, and having to repeat the same monotonous collection of common sense how-to’s. I suppose they have to crave a break in the routine, so it made sense when our attendant held up the seat belt, saying, “This is a seat belt. It works like every other seat belt you’ve ever used. If you do not know how to use it, then you probably shouldn’t have left your home.” Another flight began with the attendant skipping the standard electronics announcement, and substituting, “If it has an on/off switch it should be turned off.” I’m a big fan of the straight forward approach and a quicker take off.
The girl in first class with the sunglasses on: The plane has 14 rows. “First Class includes rows 1 and 2. There is no drink service on the 30 minute flight. You aren’t Paris Hilton. Please put your lip gloss and selfie taking device away.
The balding seat leaner: Can a man not sit in a chair for a 45 minute flight without the need to recline the extra 15 degrees for a nap?? This positioned his head approximately 18 inches from my face. As I stared at the top of his cranium, I couldn’t help but wonder if he knew about the two inch bald spot directly on top of his head. There was abundant hair everywhere else, just not there. It’s a pity his loud talking wife wasn’t sitting behind him.
The loud talkers: AND SHE WAS ALL LIKE…… AND I TOLD HER THAT THAT WAS …… I know you have experienced this one too. By the time you make adequate distance from them, you know their boyfriend’s name, the name the girl he’s probably cheating with, the name of her nail salon, and where she got those great heels. Inside voices. Use them.
Your new best friend: I’m all for being friendly or helping a fellow traveler who may not know the procedure at the next airport, but this is more of an invasion of personal space. I reached my layover with enough time for some lunch. Chipotle!! Seeing a nice gate-wait window seat open, I dragged over my limping carry on and started devouring. Mid bite, I hear “OMG! I rode the underground thingie all by myself!!” I stop chewing and side eye to see if she is talking to me, and (lucky me) she was. She proceeded to tell me about going to Evansville, Indiana, being a cashier at K-Mart, and that she had used nail polish to put her name and number on her phone in three places “just in case she lost it”. I didn’t have the heart to let her know that if she lost her phone she would be unable to receive phone calls. She asked all kinds of personal questions that I managed to side step by shoving more food in my mouth. The sudden craving for coffee was my scapegoat. Friendly is okay. Clingy is weird.
Babies: It is inevitable that sometimes people fly with kids. Sometimes those kids aren’t old enough to talk, and instead have to cry to let their discontent be known. I don’t get mad at babies. My seat mate on the second of my flights had it DOWN. I approach, the baby is in my seat. She says, “Oh thank God you’re a woman. Do you care if I nurse?” I tell her that they’re made for nursing, not for selling cars and hamburgers. When you consider that we receive in flight drink service to assist with relieving ear pressure, it makes sense to allow a baby to nurse around climbing and descent. This seems like a FAR more crowd accepting option than letting the kid SCREAM and handing them a loud electronic toy with no headphones. Half of that flight consisted of “Duh-duh-duh-duh-Dora” and screaming that would shatter tooth enamel, while the child beside me snoozed and nursed the entire flight. Parenting win!!
The raised eyebrow, “So, where’re you from?” guy: How many times have you tried this on a flight, and has it ever worked?? It’s like an airline version of an Axe body spray commercial. Horny desperation is not a great look for anyone, and I’m the girl who wouldn’t know a flirt if smacked her in the forehead.
This is by no means an all inclusive list, in fact I have an entirely separate story to share next time. The microcosms we travel in make for such great (indirect) people watching. On that note, I’ve gotta call it a night. Traveling is exhausting!!