Sunday, January 22, 2012

On airline travel....

I got to experience the joys of air travel again last week.  Okay, there's nothing joyful about air travel, but usually I observe a few things that make me chuckle anyway.

I'm not really afraid of flying or anything, but I got a little nervous on the first leg of my journey this time.  The real reason for the nervousness was that I usually just get on the plane and nothing of consequence catches my eye.  On this particular flight though we had a particularly chatty flight attendant.  She was talking to a group of older Red Hat ladies who had all graduated from high school together and were taking a girl's trip.  This was a lively group of lasses and the flight attendant commented on how she hoped they could stay out of trouble.

Then the flight attendant walked a couple of rows forward to coo at a baby and talk gibberish to it.  She chatted it up with the parents of the baby, talking about how cute it was and about their final destination.

On this flight I observed many individual scenes like the Red Hat Ladies and the baby.  As I sat there I thought to myself that this is exactly how plane crash movies always work; the passengers don't just walk on the plane and then plummet to their deaths, they all get to know a little about one another.  Think about the first episode of Lost; it showed a scene with Kate and the federal agent, a scene with Charlie and his drugs and several other smalls scenes.  What happened?  They crashed of course.  If you're going to be involved in a plane crash, you must first witness a number of seemingly inconsequential vignette's that set the scene and add to the shock and sorrow of your untimely death; the viewer has to know a little about you.

If the stewardess said it once she said it a dozen times; make sure that your seat belts are fastened.  She even demonstrated for everyone how those fancy, complex seat belts work.  I had to wonder though just how much the seat belt would improve my odds of survival in the event of a crash.  I've never read a single story of emergency responders finding people safely fastened into their seats in the middle of a cornfield after a crash, but I suppose it's possible.

Obviously the plane didn't crash, but throughout the flight I found myself continuously gauging my odds of survival should the worst happen.  When we were above 10,000 feet I gave myself no chance because I had unfastened my seatbelt.  When I was able to pick out cars on the ground I gave myself a 50/50 chance.  When I could see people on the sidewalks below me I figured my chances improved to 75% and when the wheels finally hit the ground I was confident that everything was going to be okay unless one of those baggage cart drivers didn't notice the huge plane behind him and zipped out in front of us, which is something that I could see myself doing if I were a baggage cart driver.  While we were over Lake Michigan I figured I could probably swim for it if a seagull flew into the jet intake, but knew that the water was going to be awfully cold.  I didn't particularly like the idea of hitting cold water at 800 miles an hour.

On the flight from Detroit back to Huntsville I sat next to an elderly lady and for the first time ever I was at the very back of the plane.  I made a comment to her about how far back we were and she looked at me and in perfect English said "I'm sorry, I don't understand English, I'm not from America."  Then I saw her reach into her purse and pull out a book of crossword puzzles.  How hilarious would it be, I thought to myself, if these were English crossword puzzles.  Alas, though, they weren't, but this did give me a great idea for how to deter those irritating yappers that I almost always end up sitting with and I now have a Russian crossword book on order from eBay.

I know that this all sounds a bit crazy, most of what I say does, but it's the kind of stuff that one thinks about if one is me.  Besides, we've all heard the saying that art imitates life, and with my luck that imitation is likely to happen while I'm strapped into 13D next to the lady doing the foreign crossword puzzles.

On another leg of the flight we had a bit of a militant stewardess who had the personality of a rock and really bad hair.  And I mean really bad hair, the kind of hair that, ironically, beauticians usually have. She actually came through and did a seat belt check and fussed at the elderly lady beside me for having her Kindle out.  A seat belt check, who does that?  Later she claimed that the pilot was still detecting electronics and said that we would not take off until everything was turned off, so the elderly lady beside me reached into her bag and turned off her iPad and smartphone too.  This lady had to be in her 70's and yet she had a smartphone, an iPad and Kindle.  You have to admire someone who embraces technology so completely.

The highlight of the trip though was when the foreign crossword puzzle lady stood up at the end of the flight and passed gas.  I don't think that it was intentional, but that really doesn't matter much; whether intentional or not and regardless of the country of origin of the farter or what language they speak it still stinks just as much.  At least I was home when she farted on me though.

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