fly the friendly skies



   it’s very early morning and i’m waiting in the airport, filling time and amusing myself by people watching  and had the following observations:

  • my pilot eating a massive bag of burgers and fries, all i could think was – please have a strong stomach…
  • pack of boy scouts, all in uniform, including the grown leaders, and overheard,  ‘what happens down there, stays down there….’ – i don’t really want to know and it’s not exactly the motto i remember anyway

  • bitter attendant storming around muttering to himself and anyone willing to listen, angry because my flight to nyc was going to be leaving before his was going to leave for boston.  apparently his flight had flown in this same order for the last couple of days and he took it as personally as a major league ball player who’d been moved lower on the batting roster. 

   finally boarded and flight attendants suggested they take my carry-on bag from me and tag it, as it probably wouldn’t fit into the the overhead bins. having flown many times before, and knowing i can jam my bag into most any space, i smiled, said no thank you, and moved ahead bag in hand.  they smiled back and said, “good luck, they are quite slim.” 

   i headed off down the aisle and thought how lucky i was, having arrived at the airport just before boarding and still snagging this choice seat – 6c. it was such a low number that i wondered if perhaps they had bumped me up to first class, but was quickly brought back down to earth when i realized there were only 12 rows on the entire plane.

   i found my little seat – indeed near the front, (and near the back as well), and went to pop open the bin. looking up, i realized why they’d offered to take my bag.  the ‘bins’, a series of large, overhead slots, were in fact so ‘slim’ that the only items i could imagine them accommodating would be a comb, a toothpick,  a lock of hair, and possibly a cd , (if it wasn’t in its case).

   turned and passed my bag back, bucket-brigade style, through the line of people behind me, and into the hands of the all-knowing flight attendants. the line seemed to have no problem helping with this, though i did catch a glimpse of the attendants smirking and nodding knowingly towards each other as they tagged my bag and sent it off to wherever it was they originally wanted to send it onto.

   once relieved of my luggage, i settled into my seat next to the window, on what was a freezing cold plane, and prepared to instantly fall asleep.  pilot announced, ‘don’t be alarmed by the smoke filling the cabin, just a bit of an air conditioning snafu….’ i was so tired that i decided to take my chances and sleep through whatever that really meant. 

   no sooner had i closed my eyes than i heard a big, friendly, southern voice saying, ‘ i sure hope you like to snuggle ‘cuz we are gonna be packed in here!’  looked up and saw a giant with a giant smile. he told me he was 6’8” and 257 pounds and i wondered how he was ever going to fit into his seat next to me, he did the best he could, squeezed in, using a technique any vegas contortionist would admire, and buckled in for the ride. we chatted a bit and soon both fell asleep. as far as i know it all went well, and assumed the reason i was so warm when we arrived was that we’d been unwittingly spooning for the duration of the flight. 

   once we got to the airport, he unfolded himself out of his seat, and after he carried my luggage to my connecting gate, i said goodbye to my ‘airplane husband’ – our brief and cozy relationship was over.   

   i went downstairs and found the super shuttle that was going to deliver me to my brother’s apartment in nyc. shared the shuttle with 8 other people and set off for the city. i heard lots of languages around me and wondered how they’d all manage to find their way around the city. as we got closer, i got a call from my brother to check my estimated arrival time, and i announced, ‘well, it should be soon, we’re heading into downtown now.’ there was an instant reaction throughout the shuttle, it was as if i had delivered a hilarious and shocking one-liner. the entire shuttle burst out laughing, people turned around to look at me, i heard someone repeating ‘downtown?’ driver flipped out and asked for my address again. somehow my gaffe had even managed to overcome all language barriers.  who knew that in new york, there is no ‘downtown,’ only midtown, uptown and on and on…. all this and i had not even begun the vacation yet, wondered what was yet to come –

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