Most of us seem to be at a place where we can take flying for granted and thus be annoyed by the whole experience. I have not forgotten that it is basically a miracle that we are all hurtling through space, well above the safety of the earth in a glorified tin can, and I am grateful for the safe return to terra firma every time it happens. I too get easily annoyed by the vast majority of the flying experience; mostly the other passengers but also stupid security rules. Really mostly other passengers.
Just for fun, and because I am only half way through a five-hour flight, let’s do a little tour of our favorite fellow passengers. I am going to be a little bossy here with the goal of helping all of us be better companions to each other as we zip across time zones in the sky.
- The seat hog: you have purchased one seat but you believe you are entitled to additional space. This may be accomplished through spillage of your bag onto my foot, your jacket into my lap, your elbow onto or over the armrest, etc. Yes the airlines are making the seats smaller as we passengers continue to grow bigger. Yes it is cruel and perhaps even inhumane. But they are doing it to all of us equally and unless you are willing to pay the extra money for the more room you have to live with what you have got. When you put your bag on my foot or explain that your jacket is in my lap because of the “god-damned greedy airline executives” you are not sticking it to them, you are sticking it to me and I am already stuck here with you. So next time take a train, or a bus, or drive your car and really show them but making me miserable just makes me dislike you, not the ceo of cheapy air.
- The eager beaver: I know you are eager to get off the plane. I too want to get out of this foul smelling, crowded, germ-ridden vessel – that is why I was sitting on an aisle and as soon as the little bell ding-donged I popped up and grabbed my bag. I do this strategically and I can move fast when motivated. So now that I have occupied a space in the aisle, and lots of others have done the same there is no room for you, no matter how much you push me with your bag that you are pretending you can not feel on your back. Yes, I am now the lady who says loudly, “excuse me, I can’t move anywhere else, please wait.”
- The balancer: yes even on the smoothest ride there are bumps and it can be hard to find your balance when walking in the air. You may gently touch the tops of the chairs as you pass so as to orient your balance, that’s really all it takes, you may not heavily push on the back of my chair while scraping the top of my head and lunging your abdomen into those people sitting near by. Please stop. Please. It is startling, also creepy and a much more intense invasion of personal space than what is called for on a plane. Practice at home it you must, I recommend yoga for core balance, or put on a diaper – there are solutions, be creative.
- The chicken yard: we will end with some tips for families flying with a brood of small children. If you are flying with people under five years old plan ahead to play man-coverage. Zone defense on a plane is a sure loser. If that is not practical then let me offer the suggestion of a highly respected research doctor/friend: drug them. That is what he did with his girls and given their level of genius I can’t say it did them any harm. Assuming that most people are not going with that suggestion let me say don’t try to take away the screen that you gave your child three hours ago and that they have been staring at continuously since, right now, with two hours to go and then seem surprised that they are screaming. If you go in with the screen it is for the long haul. If you don’t want them to start throwing your expensive screen on the ground when they get cranky don’t give them the screen to begin with. It’s a vicious cycle. Also, I don’t want to play with your kid. I had my own, I love them, actually they are my favorites – I don’t think your kid is the cutest I have ever seen or the cleverest or the whateverest and I do not want to chat with them or have them touch me.
We are all quite literally in this together. The best we can do is be thoughtful about how we behave and how that impacts those around us. Let’s practice on the plane and see if we can’t also apply some of our lessons to life on earth as well. It might be nice.