Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Friendly Skies

I like to think of myself as a positive person. I usually am. Until I get anywhere near an airport. Then my inner-what is wrong with people-self comes out. Something about air travel makes the IQ of the general public drop several points. First, you must attempt to park somewhere near the airport. All the arrows and signs give conflicting orders and suggestions. Not to mention the yahoo in the Hummer or the grandma with cataracts driving the wrong way you must swerve to avoid. And even the smallest car feels obligated to take up 2 parking spots. Then you get to lug all your worldly possessions on the grand trek to the airport. Once you enter the airport, you must dodge the family reunions and school trips congregating in the middle of the airport. Then you must wait in a 2-mile long line to check in. In front of you will be people who don't speak the language, people trying to cash their light bill and buy a lottery ticket from the check-in clerk. There is always someone who is surprised they need to produce a valid plane ticket and photo I.D. Once you prove you have a ticket to ride, you get to wait for 6 months to get through security. People now have to strip naked, unload every stick of gum and fork over every electronic. Amazingly, this process takes longer than childbirth. If you are a Type A OCD personality, you still have hours to kill so you wander around the airport shops. You contemplate paying way too much for crap you would not even glance at anywhere else. Then you lurk around your gate until "boarding time". Your fellow passengers clearly flunked out of preschool because not a single one of them will be able to follow the simple instructions given repeatedly to line up according to rows. People form a CIRCLE around the door. Then they are shocked that the ticket agent can read their seat assignment and sends them to the back of the "line". My kid, at age 7, could figure out the line up process faster than the guy next to her in the Brooks Brothers suit. And people in the middle seat always "mistakenly" hunker their over-sized selves in my aisle seat. And they are surprised when I "politely" refuse their "gracious" offer of their middle seat. Last year, Sara and I flew to Minnesota. I'm clearly sitting next to my 7 year old. We had side-by-side window and aisle seats. While I sometimes would like to pretend my kids are not mine in public, this was not one of those times. A man actually asked if I would switch seats with him 4 rows back because he doesn't like the middle seat. Excuse me, but who DOES like it? I was tempted to slip Sara some chocolate covered espresso beans and a Big Gulp and take him up his offer to teach him a lesson. Then you spend the entire flight with someone's head in your lap because they feel the overwhelming urge to "recline". When this happens, I channel my inner-Calvin and Hobbes. I need to open and shut my tray compulsively, cross my legs repeatedly, get up and down a few dozen times. I also throw in a few coughs and sneezes for good measure. Usually, I win the turf war and they decide to spend the rest of the flight in their full upright position. Sara, on the other hand, loves traveling. Everything must be explored. Everyone must be met and interrogated. If there is a delay, she is happy to wander the airport shops. I need to take a page out of her travel log book.

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