Tag Archives: flying

At least one of us is thoughtful…

4 May


Alan and I are in California for a friend’s wedding. On the flight out this morning, we started talking about flight attendants and what perks come with seniority. In the midst of this discussion, Alan said, “We should pick up something for our flight attendant on the way home.”

“Like a gift?” I asked.

“Just a little something – like a chocolate bar or something. I read an article that talked about how something like that goes a long way toward brightening their day. You know, something where you say, I was thinking of you!”

My cynical response was, “Because that’s not creepy at all. That comes across like, ‘I’ve been anticipating this flight and thinking about you,’” (at this point I was kind of rubbing my arms in a pervy kind of way), “’and I decided to bring you a chocolate bar.’”

Alan, seeing how his thoughtfulness could be misconstrued, latched on to the idea. “And instead of a chocolate bar, I’ll just bring her a single latex glove.”

At which point we both completely lost it. I’m not sure if we reached consensus on the whole gift thing for our return flight, or if I’m going to need to take my window seat and pretend I don’t know him.

You’re getting very, very sleepy. (Or not.)

3 Apr
Not me.

Not me.

I’m in London for work this week. I flew out of DC Friday night after work and arrived Saturday at the crack of dawn.

Every time I travel internationally, I am reminded of how bad I am at sleeping on planes. Who ARE those people who are so knocked out they’re snoring? Aside from the times I’ve traveled in First Class in a seat that reclines to a create a fully flat bed, or the time I took a Xanax on my way to Australia, I’ve only gotten – at most – 30 minutes of uninterrupted sleep on a plane.

This trip was no exception, despite my luck in seating. I was lucky because a) I had checked in online early enough to secure myself a window seat with only one companion (as opposed to being in the center row, which sticks five people together), and b) I was in one of only a few rows where my seatmate never arrived. Theoretically, with two seats to myself, I should’ve been able to sleep. But try as I might – and I DID try, using every inch of those two seats to full advantage – I was never able to make it work.

I passed two hours watching the movie, “Sisters,” starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. It’s definitely on the low-end of the intellectual spectrum, but I found myself laughing out loud at lines from time to time. (“You’re so full of shit, I’m going to buy you pull-ups.”) It was a perfect distraction as our plane bounced around for what amounted to 90 minutes of on-again/off-again turbulence while we left the DC area.

When the movie ended, I found that the cabin was dark and around me – with few exceptions – people were sleeping. Glad I didn’t have a slumbering seatmate to awkwardly crawl over, I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth.

Other than knowing my row was empty, I hadn’t really paid attention to WHICH row it was. I thought the emptiness would make it easy to spot, so when I returned to the bathroom, I found an empty row and set about tidying up the loose blankets strewn across the seats. Except I learned that it wasn’t ACTUALLY my row when my hands connected with a BODY under the blankets. Um, oops?

The person I’d groped was either a sleeping zombie or paralyzed by fear of imminent sexual assault, because he/she didn’t move or say anything after I patted him/her in various places. Mortified, I continued on my way without an apology for fear of waking him/her. I walked down the entire aisle to rule out other “false positives” before confirming my row was really mine.

The rest of my evening unfolded without any drama (or further trauma), aside from the lights cutting back on with a harsh brightness, JUST after I’d finally zonked out for about 20 minutes. One fruit cup and a cup of tea later, I saw the city of London out my window, it’s landmarks obvious even from the distance. The Tower Bridge, the London Eye, Big Ben: I was immediately oriented and – despite my nighttime challenges – wide awake.

Here’s hoping I manage to sneak in some rest before I show up in the office. It’s one thing to have accidentally pat-down a stranger on a plane; it’s another thing entirely if it happens in an office. While Europeans DO tend to think Americans are overly-friendly, I think our HR team might have a problem with it.

Your house is as crazy as you are.

26 Nov

…yeah, shit that works.

Flying back from Boston last week, a couple with his-and-hers corderoy pants were seated next to me. As if that didn’t effectively convey the “crunchy vibe” they were going for, when they shuffled into their seats, I was practically forced to claw my nose off my face as I surmised that the guy used one of those “natural crystals” in lieu of deoderant.

Unless you grow jasmine in your armpits, please don’t use natural anything when it comes to combatting body odor.

I tell you this to explain that I may have been prematurely soured on them. I spent the next hour staring straight ahead, watching them out of the corner of my eye, trying to figure out what their deal was.

As soon as they took their seats, they both began sketching on pads. From their conversation, I gathered they were designing a house. It struck me as odd, because the guy appeared to be in his 40s, and the woman looked like someone recently out of college. Father/daughter? Professor/student? Husband/wife?

How I felt.

I didn’t need to wait long to eliminate at least two of those options. As soon as they were told to put their tray tables away, they held hands. But to say they held hands would be to underrepresent what was occurring. It was a non-stop flurry of hand-holding. If it were an Olympic event, they might’ve medaled for effort, but not for style. It made me want to reach over and kneel on their collective arm and put a seatbelt on it.

Even with the handicap of each only having one arm to work with, they managed to continue sketching. From their dialogue, I couldn’t tell if they actually had a plot of land they were designing a home for, or if this was an inflight-activity designed to keep their minds off crashing, or if they were just bat-shit crazy. Their sentences would range from rational and intelligent, to plain stupid.


Him: So if we orient the house toward the stream, we should get great natural light on the porch in the evening and strong morning light in the kitchen. Is that what you’re thinking?

Her: That’s perfect. I’m going to make this entire wall cabinets. And then the sink will go here, under the window.

Him: Looks good. Where are you putting the stairs to the upper level?

Her: I thought we could do a rope ladder.

(Me, silently: A rope ladder? What is this, a TREE house?)

Him: That would be cool. 

Her: Right here. It will save space and be fun.

(Me, silently: Wait? He didn’t even call you on that bullshit?)

Him: I don’t see any closets. Where are you going to put clothes?

Her: Hooks and shelves.

Him: Hooks and shelves? What about your shoes?

Her: They’ll go in the mud room. Can I have a mud room?

(Me, silently: She has to ask permission for things? I want to smack them both.)

Him: Sure. So shoes will go in the mud room? Where – on the floor?

Her: Hooks and shelves. Hooks and shelves.

(Me, silently: What is this, kindergarten? No closets? Again, not practical.)

Him:  Got it. What about the fridge? You don’t have a place for it.

Her: Hmm. Maybe the basement? Can I have a basement?

(Me, silently: Again with the permission! And seriously? Was the kitchen too obvious for the fridge?)

Him: Sure. You can have a basement. You’ll probably want to put the water heater, furnace and other things down there though, so don’t use it all for living space.

Her: Great. I’ll put the fridge in the kitchen. (Thank God!) It’ll go under the counter. (What?) With the freezer next to it. (Huh?) And a dishwasher next to that. Can I put a fireplace in?

Him: Sure. You can have two flues off the same chimney, so you can add one without a problem.

(Me, silently: Wait. This place already HAS a fireplace? Does that mean it exists?) 

Do you understand now? They were crazy! I wanted to reach over and snap their pencils in half and tell them to do something useful. Fortunately, I was able to redirect my ire because at this point (ten minutes in the air) the woman unbuckled her seatbelt and announced she needed to use the restroom.

SERIOUSLY. We JUST took off and we will be on the ground in 50 minutes. You can’t hold it?

Wait. So you like rope ladders? Then let me show you how to get to the bathroom…


How I took my mind off dying…

22 Feb

If you read my most recent post, you know that I feel I tempted fate on my last flight. Not only did I pass up a lucky penny from the bathroom floor, but I also heard the pilot wreak sweet havoc on the airplane’s bathroom before departing. Those two factors had me doubly convinced I would meet a fiery death somewhere between Boston and DC.

So what did I do? Did I start singing hymns and ask for an “amen?” No.

I consulted the emergency card in the seatback pocket in front of me. And no, not to familiarize myself with the evacuation procedures of that particular aircraft. What do you think I am? Optimistic?

No. I’m Sarcastic. So I looked at it for the humor.

And here’s what took my mind off dying…

OK. So first… Sorry, but if we’re crashing, who is going to have this much time to fasten a life vest on their child. This looks more complicated than making an origami swan with tinfoil and step-by-step directions.

Also? Completely unrealistic illustration. That baby would not be sitting still. Should’ve added some motion lines around the legs and arms, because I’m pretty sure: babies in crash mode are throwing a tantrum. And to that point – its face should be red.

Meanwhile, my friend Dorkahontus has a great observation: “The baby in panel three is about to host a dance party… Can anyone say, ‘Raise the roof?'”

Finally? In panel 6, that lightbulb makes it look like the baby is having an idea. Bet I know what it is: “Mom! WTF! I can’t believe you put me on that deathtrap.” Or maybe it’s, “Ah. When I pee in this diaper the water is warm for a minute.”

So a few thoughts on this one. First – You had me at “Do not use.” The additional, “No Use” seems unnecessarily insulting. If you’re going to write it twice, why not add, “Stupid!” at the end of it? Second, while I’m glad people can’t use lighters and female transformers are forbidden, I am a bit bummed. Why can’t I use my remote control dune buggy? When I packed, that was my plan for in-flight entertainment. Assholes.

Dear Illustrator: I hope you didn’t model this one on your own child. If so? I think you might want to have him tested for some odd aging disease because he simply looks like a little adult. And oddly flat. Perhaps you used Flat Stanley as a model? Or maybe the airline wanted you to show that oxygen masks are available to inflate passengers? I bet that’s it! Sorry to insult you.

What a relief! This plane used its landing gear in an emergency. And there are no signs of burning rubble in the wake of its crash landing. Even the woman disembarking looks very calm and put together – coiffed in a way that does Mad Men proud. In fact, the only sign that anything is amiss is the fact that there’s a frat boy sprinting away from the plane.

Which, now that I think of it, is probably about how it would all play out.

Superstitions + Social Media = Pilots As Magic 8-Balls

19 Feb

Friday I flew back to DC from Boston. When I booked my flight, I somehow overlooked that it was a commuter plane. As someone who hates flying on a good day, the news that I’m about to fly on a plane with fewer than 100 passengers is not exactly comforting. (In case my logic is thwarting you: it seems like most crashes are smaller planes.)

It only seemed *this* small.

So I didn’t have a great feeling when – as I boarded – the gate agent was checking all rollerboard bags. “Full flight?” I asked.

She shook her head. “No, the overhead’s just not large enough.” Gah.

At that moment, I thought back to the quick pit stop I’d just made in the Ladies’ Room in the airport. As I dried my hands, I looked down and saw a penny – face-up – on the floor of the bathroom. I’d laughed and passed it up, thinking the universe had just unwittingly forced me to define the precise limit of my superstition.

But stepping on the small plane, I kicked myself for not claiming the penny. As I suspected, it was a fairly small plane: there were two seats to the left of the aisle, one to the right, and no first class section. And my seat was all the way in the back, butting up to the bathroom.

As if I weren’t already feeling like the omens were pointing to “do not fly” –  just before we pushed back from the gate, the pilot came walking back and ducked into the bathroom. I’m assuming he had a bad meal or was battling some kind of bug, because the noises on the other side of that folding door were monstrous.

I decided to crowd-source a bit of reassurance, so I quickly posted the following status to Facebook: Pilot just took a pre-departure dump. I know because I’m seated right next to the bathroom. Not sure if this inspires confidence or not. Discuss?

And discuss, they did. These responses are why Facebook (and my friends) are awesome:

“Vote of no confidence because it shows he did not plan ahead and likes to do things at the last minute.”

“Better now than 10,000 feet in the air.”

“I  disagree. This is clearly a man who handles problems head-on, and is not afraid to make the tough decisions. I respect his moxie.”

“How do you know it was a dump? You didn’t go in with him and I’m assuming he didn’t announce it on his exit from the bathroom. Let’s discuss your rush to judge people instead of this man’s bowel habits.”

“I’m in favor of anything that makes the plane lighter. Safety first.”

“To that point… perhaps they needed to re-distribute the weight on the plane, like with the luggage.”

“Maybe he ate the fish? You better get someone to land that plane.”

At home that night, Alan and I were discussing my friends’ differing opinions. “You know,” I told him, “I should have just realized it was his fight or flight mechanism kicking in.”

Alan gave me a blank look. “How do you figure?”

“Well,” I explained, “You know how birds poop before they fly to make themselves lighter?”

“Wait,” Alan interrupted me. “That’s not what fight-or-flight is all about. Fight-or-flight means you crap your pants from fear. Not to make yourself lighter.”

I shook my head. “No – that’s the point. You’re scared so your body is trying void everything so you’ll be lighter when you run away.”

Alan smacked his forehead. “I cannot believe you are sitting here trying to convince me that’s what fight-or-flight means.”

“Look, I don’t make the rules,” I told him. “But I do know that my pilot successfully flew a little plane after hitting the toilet. And he did not get in a fight. That’s exactly what it means.”

Alan just stared at me, speechless. Which is how I know I was right.