Air travel is a unique combination of wonder and horror. Without it, I’d be stuck in a car or on a train for days in order to visit with family. With it, I can be holding my elfin granddaughter within a few hours. However, there is nothing like being imprisoned in a small, cramped space to bring out the worst in people. Can someone tell me why people lose all consideration for their fellow prisoners during travel time?
When I boarded a pretty full flight out of Dulles this morning, I was quite happy that the middle seat was empty. Ahhhhh…a little extra room that I hadn’t expected. I still appreciated the extra space, but the woman sitting on the end seat took that perk WWWAAAYYY too far. When she first sat down, she raised her armrest and started spreading out her belongings. That’s not horrible, and two can play that game, I thought, as I quickly placed one or two things of my own there before she could claim the entire empty seat.
My bad traveling luck usually falls in the olfactory category. Okay, enough with the fancy words. Something always stinks. The most frequent offenders have been guys who sit with their knees splayed, creeping into my tiny leg space, before letting loose with machine gun rounds of gas. I’ve taken to wearing a loose, blousy headband draped around my neck that I can pull up over my mouth and nose. That’s not too obvious, right?
The lady behind me decided to reapply her Lily of the Valley perfume. The sickeningly sweet fumes curled around me like that green “Night of the Living Dead” fog. Sometimes it’s a combo ride, with a digestively-challenged guy sitting next to me and little boy kicking the back of my seat for the five hour flight. I still can’t decide whether the kicks or the mother’s monotone reprimands are worse. Then a nearby passenger will unveil his or her homemade ethnic lunch that reeks of some unknown oil and spice.
Engine noise and screaming children used to wear me down until my daughter and son-in-law were kind enough to present me with a pair of noise reduction headphones. Auditory problems solved.
Today was a new low. I prayed to be surrounded by gassy men, over-perfumed women and Mediterranean picnickers. My fellow traveler across the empty seat finally cleared away her snack bags, makeup and books to stretch out and watch some satellite television. Unfortunately, she thought it was perfectly okay to remove her shoes and put her BARE FEET within three inches of my seat edge. Besides the ick factor of a stranger’s uncovered feet so close to me, well, quite frankly they smelled!
Perhaps I’m being too picky. My feet don’t always smell like a bed of roses, but who does that on a plane? I tried looking pointedly at her putrid peds, but she was clueless. Where’s that Lily of the Valley when I could put it to some beneficial use? I bit my lip to keep from turning toward her and saying, “Really, REALLY???” The nuns who educated me would have told me to “offer it up”, but I don’t think I’ve done enough bad things in my life to keep my mouth shut for another 1,074 miles.
Maybe my seat in heaven will be one of those massaging spa pedicure chairs.