Tuesday, July 16, 2013

And Thank YOU For Flying The Friendly Skies...

As a child, I used to love going to the airport to "people watch". Now that I am an adult, little has changed. Some of the most interesting people, situations, and dynamics can be observed there. I even sometimes wonder how I look to the other "people watchers". I'm sure it's entertaining from time-to-time--especially when I'm hauling two giant pink suitcases around in 4" stilettos...
Today's flight was no exception. I sat there on the bus to the airport that was enroute from the rental car drop-off. The couple to my right were headed back to Europe on British Airways. Not only did they look European, but they also PACKED European. Compared to my two, 50-lb pink suitcases that I had in tow, these two knew how to "pack lightly". All my friends who go to Europe say that "packing lightly" is a must. I've never been there, so I can pack as much crap as I want, and still plead "ignorant American".
I could only imagine what those European peeps were thinking about me at that moment (besides, "Dang! Somebody needs to teach that American weirdo how to pack correctly!"). I wasn't wondering this because I am totally self-absorbed, and think that everyone gives a rat's behind about me. However, when I boarded the bus, I was fine/composed/looked like most passengers. Then I received a phone call from my friend, and I had just happened to say goodbye to my family (I am moving to Anchorage, Alaska for work), and suddenly, my eyes welled up with tears, and I looked like the world had ended (cuz it felt like it had). I went from a normal person, to a hot mess in about 30 seconds. They were probably like, "Oh for sobbing out loud, girl!...pull yourself together!".
Then came standing in line at airport security. I got behind a Boy Scout troop from Minnesota who looked like they had just spent a week of survival training in the wild back country of Colorado with Bear Grylls. They probably ate baby robins' eggs for breakfast. Anyway, this wouldn't have been a big deal, except for the fact that they make you remove your shoes to go through the security line, and they all had super dirty/smelly feet from slopping through goodness knows what in their Keen sandals. I was behind them wearing flip flops. That meant that my feet had to go "commando" (naked) through a bunch of Boy Scout filth and stank.
THEN...as if not grossed out enough by putting my cute, pedicured toes through teenage Boy Scout tree sap, and elk pee, I got to have my turn at being photographically date-raped again by TSA and their full-body scanner machine thingy. Every time I stand in that Plexiglas tube with my legs spread apart, and my arms up in the air, I feel like I've just committed a felony--only I have nothing to show for it (except for my naked body to someone in a cheap black sweater vest and a blue collared shirt). I wonder if when TSA hires someone to watch all those scans if they have to have "CREEPER" and "PERV" on their list of expertise on their resume?
Then it was off to the plane. All my life I will never understand why they board from the front of the plane, to the back of the plane. I mean, I get that the first-class people are like seriously cooler than most of us. They need to get on there first so that they can have first shot at sniffing every other passenger's genitalia as they walk by to board the rest of the plane, right? That's why they pay the big bucks, folks!!!
Seriously though--maybe there is a method to this "front-to-back" boarding madness, but it just seems a little...well...stupid to me. And I am always the unlucky person who ends up in the final boarding section, and I have to wait for everyone and their grandmother in the front, and middle of the plane to get situated so I can finally get all the way to the back of the aircraft. I usually tote my North Face backpack, and my laptop with me, and I PELT everyone in the head with it on the way back to my seat in the "Back 40" of the airplane.
Finally, I arrived at my seat. Laptop tucked in the overhead bin, about three rows up. Backpack shoved under the seat in front of me. Chair and tray table in the upright position. Seat belt tightly fastened, and blonde girl committed to location for, what the pilot quoted as, "5 hours, 1 minute, and
37 seconds" until touchdown in Anchorage, Alaska.
Like any normal (normal?) person, I did a quick survey of my surroundings. I wanted to see what the next 5 hours, 1 minute, and 37 seconds of my life were going to look like after taxi and takeoff. I triangulated the "BABY ZONE"--the zone that had lap children who were most likely to scream/freak out on take-off and landing due to pressure in their ears building up that they couldn't release. I also anticipated their intermittent screams of boredom from being confined to a chair that was small enough to only accommodate an Oompa Loompa for 5 hours, 1 minute, and 37 seconds--not to mention the fact that they had to share that seat with their parent the whole time.
I had an aisle seat. The guy sitting to my left looked like he was gearing up for an Alaskan adventure of a lifetime in his shorts that unzipped at the knees, and his Teva sandals. He had the scruff beard, and Gore-Tex hat going on, too.
The couple seated next to me were Russian. I don't know if they lived in Alaska (because there is a large Russian population there), or if they were planning on de-planing in Anchorage to take Sarah Palin's short trek by foot across the non-existent Bering Sea land bridge to Russia that she claims she can see from her house in Wasilla, Alaska.
The people across the aisle, to my left, and in front of me were already swiping their credit cards like crack babies on the seat back TVs. One person couldn't figure out how to shut the TV off, so she stuck one of the barf bags across the screen, and into the little slits on each side of it.
Then there was the guy behind me. He had a "snorting tic" that made him sniff/snort/hock a loog every 2.2 seconds. This was actually fine with me though. Although a bit disturbing, prior to boarding the plane, the guy standing next to me had a "kissing tic", which sounded like he was passionately kissing the air, and super repetitively. I figured dumb luck would probably lead me to having him as my neighbor on the airplane (I have crap for luck when it comes to flight neighbors), so when the snorter/sniffer/loog-hocker guy showed up, it was a welcomed treat.
Mr. Chronic Goober Snot Machine was like being upgraded to first-class from economy seating compared to the pervy Kiss-The-Air guy.
About an hour into the trip, the girl sitting in front of the guy sitting next to me started slamming her back into the seat to try to recline it. She was insistent on getting her seat back to recline--only it was broken, so it wouldn't go back (you know--that whole 1 and 1/4" that the seat back reclines).

This didn't stop her from trying though. Have you ever seen toddlers who slams themselves against  highchairs, or throws themselves on the floor while throwing a fit? That was what she looked like. She couldn't quite accept the fact that the chair was broken, and couldn't recline, so she just kept bashing into it for like 15 minutes--apparently expecting a different result with each body slam. It was kind of like watching a monkey on a trampoline--she would hit the chair, and the chair would hit her back.

Eventually, the flight attendant came by, and she stopped her to troubleshoot the problem. After concluding that the chair was broken, and would not recline, the girl said, "Well, aren't you going to compensate me for this problem?" The flight attendant looked at her with a "Don't Mess With Texas" look in her eye and said, "NO--you will NOT be compensated for that!" I felt like kicking the girl's chair the whole 5 hours, 1 minute, and 37 seconds up to Anchorage, and saying, "There's your compensation, you self-entitled monkey fluffer!" Seriously--who asks that?
It was shortly thereafter that the guy sitting next to me whipped out a banana. Now, I know what some of you pervs are thinking, but it was a legit banana.

I hate bananas. Bananas taint EVERYTHING. If you put banana in ANYTHING, you can only ever taste the banana. Today was no exception, and the air I was breathing in close proximity to the Russian-banana-eater-man smelled like I was breathing in frickin' bananas. I couldn't get away from it. And the fasten seat belt sign was still on, so it was like being trapped in banana jail (hell).

After he finished the stupid banana, that wasn't the end of the snack. Then he pulled out a small white grocery bag--one that looked like he had just scraped up a small pile of dog crap from Paris Hilton's little punt dog at the doggie park. He untied it, and started stuffing his face full of seeds.

He'd put 1 to 2 seeds in his mouth at a time. This wouldn't have been a big deal, except for the fact that he had to crack every seed open with his teeth, and then spit all the shells out into his little puppy poo bag. To make matters worse--then his wife started in on it, too. It was like sitting in a birdcage with a seat belt on, but I was the only bird who wasn't participating in the buffet. Seed shrapnel was flying everywhere. I'm lucky I made it out of there with both my eyeballs, and my vision intact. They did get up to use the restroom though, so it wasn't like we were all sharing the same newspaper in the birdcage (or were we, since we had the common airplane lavatories?).
The girl sitting directly in front of me reclined her seat back. This happens to me on 99.9% of my flights. Call me crazy, but I NEVER recline my seat on an aircraft. Why? Because people who are seat recliners are buttheads, and they encroach upon my tiny little expensive airline seating space, shove my tray table up my nose, and I am entitled to make this judgement since it happens to me 99.9% of the time I am enroute via airplane.
So WHY do I not recline my seat if all the "cool (selfish/butthead) kids" are doing it? Because seat reclining is flipping rude, and I never want to achieve "Butthead Status" like the other 99.9% of the people who sit in front of me. It is a crap way to make the person behind you feel enclosed, and miserable for the flight duration. We're all big kids here! Sit your fuzzy butt up at a 90 degree angle, and don't be a complete frickin' doofus! Reclining your seat back to 91.25 degrees doesn't do that much for you, and it really pisses me off. Also, if you can't recline your seat, don't ask to be compensated when you don't get your complimentary 1 and 1/4" of recline due to mechanical failure of your stupid seat! Just my two cents worth...
So, into the Land of the Midnight Sun (Alaska)!!! Naturally, all the plane weirdos had to pull their window shades for the flight duration. It was like flying with a bunch of arctic-bound vampires. God forbid you open your window shade and see a mountain, or a river, or a glacier, or...CANADA (Eeeeeek!!!)!!!! (**SHIVER**). Who flies to Alaska to see scenery anyway? **SCOFF**OVERRATED**
So there I sat in Seat 31D. I felt like the journey was somewhat of a Jane Goodall experiment on a "naturalistic observation" trek with her chimps in the wild. I sat there and critiqued everyone around me. The guy sitting next to me was journaling, too. I wondered, again, what people must be thinking about me? What do they see? Do they see a crazy blonde chick on the way up to Alaska who is kicking it old school, and writing endlessly via pen and paper? Are they wondering why I'm writing all of this by hand instead of typing it on my computer in this, "The Age of Technology"? And how did this little blip I was writing of random air travel thoughts turn into 7 pages of writing that I am now having to type into my blog 4 days later??

Well, because my laptop was three rows up in the overhead compartment, and I didn't get up to get it during the flight because they constantly warn us about the likelihood of things shifting in the overhead bins during the flight. It would've been just my luck to stand up, open up the bin, and try to take it out while it plummets out, and gives 93-year-old Aunt Millie in seat 29D a concussion. That, and I needed something to do for 5 hours, 1 minute, and 37 seconds that didn't involve swiping a credit card in the seat back TV to entertain myself. Handwriting a blog seemed like a good alternative.

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