By Suzanne Sparrow Watson
Last week my brother was spot on with his observations about our current election process. Sadly, it only got worse and more complicated as the week went on. Reading his blog reminded me of the oft-used phrase, “we get the politicians we deserve”, which I thought was off-base this election cycle as who could possibly merit the current field of candidates? Well, after traveling across country a couple of weeks ago I can tell you who deserves these people – slobs on airplanes. You know the type; it’s people who dress like they have recently emerged from their cozy bed with nary a thought to actually changing their pajamas for street clothes. But it’s not just sloppy clothing that make people slobby. It’s also the people who are so self-centered and clueless that one can only assume they have been raised by feral cats.
Which, oddly enough, is how my journey from airline hell began. My first flight was at 6:30 a.m. which of course meant I got no sleep at all the night before, what with waking up every 15 minutes to make sure I didn’t sleep through the two alarms I set. The good news about such an early flight is the line for security is virtually next to nothing. And yet…four people tried to break into the Pre-Check line because they thought they were too important to wait for the five people in front of them to go through regular security. Once I had been thoroughly grilled by TSA about my dangerous Fitbit bracelet, I headed for Starbucks. There is nothing like strong coffee in the morning to improve my mood so I was reveling in my cuppa joe at the departure gate when I heard an odd sound. Odd because it was a familiar sound, yet strangely out of place. The sound got louder and louder until it reached the chair across from me. I casually glanced up and was somewhat startled to see an older woman pushing a wheelchair containing a screeching cat in a canvas crate. Then to make matters worse, the woman unzipped the crate and tried to calm the cat down. As a former cat owner I can assure you that there IS no calming a distressed cat. The guy next to me leaned over and said “we can only pray she’s not next to us”. Thankfully, she wasn’t. I don’t know whether she smothered the cat or gave it drugs but I didn’t hear a peep from it again.
On the leg of my trip to NYC I was happy that I had scored the aisle seat in the first row of coach. There is nothing like extra leg room on a long flight. As I eagerly stepped through the doorway to the plane I heard a man shouting in a panicked voice – I surmised it was an argument about a seat tilted back into someone’s upper groin. But as luck would have it, “the voice” was seated right next to me yelling into his cell phone. There was all manner of “I take full responsibility”, “It’s all on me” and “Tell him I’m very sorry“. I assumed given the volume and urgency with which he was speaking that he was a surgeon who had just amputated the wrong leg. But a few sentences further into the conversation it became clear that he was an insurance salesman. I had visions of the hanging scene from “Airplane!”. On and on he droned, without a thought to anyone around him. One guy who was passing by on the way to his seat just rolled his eyes at me and said “Gosh, did you know he’s really sorry?”. This went on until the flight attendant practically had to take a hatchet to his hand so he would turn his phone off. He alone is why the FAA should NEVER allow cell phones to be activated during flight.
My trip returning from NYC was only slightly better. We had the ubiquitous crying children (only slightly better than a screeching cat) and the person next to me required a seat belt extender so let’s just say that I never saw one inch of the arm rest between us. Finally, on my last leg home I thought I caught a break. It was the first flight that wasn’t completely full and again I had the aisle seat in the first row of coach. As I settled in a woman who looked like a refugee from the 60’s took the center seat next to me. When the cabin door closed I realized that the window seat was vacant. I waited for her to move over but apparently the Patchouli oil had gone to her head. Finally I said “You know, you could move over to the window seat and then we’d both have a bit more room.” She stared intently into my eyes and said, “You’re my kind of person!” but didn’t make any attempt to move over. Oh boy. Once we were at cruising altitude she finally changed seats. I heaved a big sigh of relief until she bent down, took off her shoes and then propped her feet up on the bulkhead. To say that the odor smelled like a dung heap would be an injustice to the dung heap. Thankfully, she fell asleep for most of the flight and my nostrils adjusted to the smell. But of course, she wasn’t done quite yet. Upon awakening she took a rotting banana out of her bag and proceeded to eat it. When I say rotting, it was WAY beyond even being considered for banana bread. When the flight attendant came to pick up garbage “Ms. Summer of Love” handed the blackened peel off to her. The attendant handled it like a dead rat.
So, to my earlier point, these are the people that deserve our current Presidential candidates. On a more positive note, and speaking of Presidents, also on my flight to NYC was the author, Douglas Brinkley, who was on a book tour for Rightful Heritage: The Renewal of America. Mr. Brinkley is clearly in need of a new agent; he was seated far back in coach. I came into contact with him as he was waiting in the aisle undoubtedly held up by someone several rows back attempting to hoist their pet goat into the overhead . I told him that I was a big fan of his writing. He couldn’t have been more gracious. Upon reflection, I now realize that I should have knocked off “Cell Phone Man” so Mr. Brinkley could take his seat and we could have had an engaging conversation about the Roosevelts and Presidential politics in general. I know…the Patchouli oil has gone to my head.