14 December 2012

Flying High Maintenance

I've always considered myself a fairly gregarious fella, even affable at times. I try not to be judgmental, but sometimes folks just drive me over the edge.

Please forgive me. I'm venting. I figured it had been a while since I posted and this way I could kill two birds with one stone.

Often, I think about what causes me to feel the way I do with first impressions and being judgmental -- while I try remembering to live and let live, or that we're all God's children, or "do unto others" or any other manner of encouraging words that are instilled in us so we can all get along -- as I develop negative feelings toward others, particularly complete strangers.

Typically, it's their obvious lack of consideration for anyone but themselves, which I find infuriating. Other times, it could be inconsiderates who talk on cell phones in restaurants and theaters or other public places where nobody should be forced to listen to half of one's conversation. Still, it could be the drivers who lose control of their cars because they are too busy texting, talking, eating, farding (thanks, Jeff), shaving or reading the paper. Or, it could be people who eat with their mouths open. Or, those who don't cover their mouths when they cough, hack, wheeze and sigh around other passengers on an aircraft.

Which brings me to "her," and my curiosity about the depth of my disdain. Truthfully, I started this to work at figuring out my disgust, knowing that in the end it's inconsequential to her, me or the rest of the world. But, apparently, I abandoned the need to come to terms with my feelings and have decided to rant.

I suppose it began with seeing her being wheeled in a chair to the gate and down the jetway with a big bag filled with McDonald's "food" and a large drink perched in her lap. Of course, if you read this erratically updated journal much, you know how I feel about the evils of fast food, particularly McDonald's. But, then it occurred to me, her size and her station may have nothing to do with poor eating habits and lack of exercise. So, I think, maybe it's a glandular problem. Surely it's her thyroid. So, I'll give her a pass and try not to think poorly of her.

Zone 1 boarding was announced, my boarding pass was scanned and I made my way down the jetway, where there were at least 10 people waiting to board behind her. Mind you, she'd been escorted down the runway long before "zone one" was invited to board. Of course. There was a problem. As I drew closer, I listened to the conversation the exhausted but patient young wheelchair escort was having with her -- as he explained that because this was a regional jet her backpack and the remaining pile of luggage she'd managed to drag along with her was ineligible for regular boarding on this junior sized plane with limited on-board stowage space.

Clearly, "her" is high maintenance. "Well, I need to keep that. And, what about this."

Finally, he backed her into the aircraft. As he came out, others began to board. But, some of her ephemera still needed to find its way to her, so the young wheelchair assistant was trying to get back on board behind us. When he learned that "her" was in row 5, Cameron offered to deliver the jacket since we were to be seated in row 4. We could see relief in the wheelchair attentandant's face as he handed over the garment and turned back to secure the rest of her stuff for gate checking.

She thanked Cameron. In fact she's been very polite to the whole crew, in spite of needing help with everything from securing her soft drink to stowing her bag under the seat. Even with the flight attendant's good-natured guidance, the negotiations working to determine what was kept and what had to be discarded or stowed were tedious.

Already exasperated for the crew because of her neediness, I began to lose my charity while we waited for baggage to be loaded in the belly of the plane...

...the smell of the crap she was eating was nauseating. The ventilation port above my head was wide open in hopes of deflecting the stench away from me without success. I don't know if I've ever heard such noises and utterances from eating before. The snorts and groans between noisy bites and slurps were enough to remind me to check for an air sickness bag in amongst the aircraft information card,"SKY" magazine and "SkyMall" catalog front of me.

In the midst of this inexplicable scene, I hear, "ANYBODY GOING HOME TO ELMIRA?"

I shuddered. Surely she couldn't be fishing for a ride with someone from the airport. Could she?


Nobody said a word. Finally, we were cleared for takeoff, and as we ascended she finished eating. I thought to myself that maybe things in row 5 would finally quiet down. I was wrong.

Cough. Hack. Snort.

I understand that as weather changes we may experience respiratory difficulties and sinus problems. Allergies wreak havoc on countless folks, including myself to a lesser degree.

BUT FOR GOD'S SAKE, COVER YOUR EFFING MOUTH WHEN YOU COUGH. Especially if you're sitting behind me in a pressurized, sealed metal tube hurtling through space with recycled air.

Rather than coming unglued, I decided to immerse myself in a couple of crossword puzzles and prayed that I could ignore her. Somehow this worked -- or she fell asleep. I was grateful that the flight time was right at an hour. We landed safely in Elmira, and I breathed a sigh of relief as I heard the familiar tone signaling that the "fasten seat belt" sign had been turned off.

After the passengers in rows 1 through 3 deplaned, I escaped with my laptop as quickly as I could, and waited in the jetway for my rollaboard, while an unsuspecting wheelchair attendant made her way up the jetbridge to the plane. God bless her.

No comments: