Monday, September 7, 2009

MORE FROM THE ROAD


I spent this last weekend in Utah, and this go-‘round, rather than taking my car I took a plane. Knowing that my there-leg didn’t include eight hours of America’s ugliest country and that I wouldn’t have to spend the weekend dreading an eight-hour drive home, I felt the trip merited more excitement than my usual Utah getaways.

I spent Wednesday night in a San Diego Marriott for a Thursday meeting. On Thursday evening I flew from Lindbergh Field to SLC International for a three-day weekend of sisters, parents, Rookie’s cooking, new niece Addison’s baby blessing, Rabid for dinner (as a guest, not the main course), Buffy’s magic applied to my brows, and a Cat-trim of my new ‘do (which I like today).

If never you’ve made your way out of the Salt Lake City International Airport on the Sunday before a holiday, I highly recommend the experience. No lines. No bustle. A bee-line for the e-ticket kiosk. Airline employes unhurried and smiling. Not a soul holding me up at security. And I made my way to gate B13 gate to the echo of my own footfalls tapping past empty gates. The usually-bustling Delta hub was a tomb. And a welcome change from the chaos that is my usual experience when flying.

I arrived at my gate to the sight of a couple travelers but not many. I had my pick of the conjoined pleather seats. So I took two. One for me. One for my bag. I crossed my legs up underneath me and dailed The Husband for a weekend recap. Once he was all the way inside the loop, content with information and nearing annoyance with my drivel, I released him and broke out the computer on which I write this and began the task of journeying through my five-days-neglected personal email.

While I scrolled and typed a fellow Sunday traveler plopped down next to me. Because I am a frequent flier and adept at airport etiquette, I picked up my bag and scooted into its seat, allowing the seat I previously perched in to serve as that customary barrier between strangers of the West.

Thanks, the almost-attractive-but-not-quite middle-aged man said. I didn’t want you to think I was hitting on you without knowing your name.

I smiled and apologized for taking up two seats in the first place. And wondered why the heck he hadn’t settled into one of the many vacant seats on the rows behind me. Relocated into my bag’s spot, I continued rifling through my emails, answering and eliminating.

The man's voice entered my consciousness, Is that one of those new notebook computers? he asked.

I looked up, Excuse me?

Is that one of those new computers just for Internet and stuff?

Having not an inkling as to what he referred, I replied Oh, no. It’s just a tablet computer, swiveling the screen to show what I meant.

Wow. That’s really terrific,
he said. I do a lot of sales presentations and that would be great for me.

Actually, I countered, it’s not as great as you might think. I too work in sales and when hauling this thing around all day you get to understand how heavy and cumbersome it is.

He heaved his hefty laptop out of his bag to show me, It could be like this, he said.

Good grief, I exclaimed, I’ll shut up and be grateful for mine. And then I returned to said machine and the email rigmarole.

A couple minutes later he leaned over and lightly waved his boarding pass within my scope. I looked up quizzically. He moved it closer to my view. Uhm, what am I supposed to see, I asked him. Did he want me to know his name? Where he was going?

Are you in front of me or behind me? he asked.

We were flying Southwest, and I noted that he was boarding number A31 and responded, Behind you. I’m A57.

That’s too bad , he said. I was hoping you were in front of me so that I could sit next to you. You have beautiful eyes.

I laughed in a tone that I hope was pleasant and didn’t betray how disturbing I thought he was and said, Oh, how kind. Thank you. Before shifting my eyes back to my screen I snuck a glance at his ring finger seeking for evidence of a marriage. None. I wondered why he didn’t take note of the Taken beacon on my left hand. Our exchange could have been a pleasant and common conversation between travelers until he complemented my eyes, when in reality--I promise you--my peepers are nice but nothing spectacular and certainly not bits that merit frequent complements from strangers.

I could save you a seat, he offered.

Well that’s awfully nice of you, I said, not looking up from my machine this time.

I’m an aisle guy, he continued.

I looked up at him, Oh, well so am I. Too bad.

Why do you like the aisle?

Is this guy ever going to shut up and leave me alone? Eyes back on my screen and fingers tentatively typing--for talking and typing is no piece of cake; I end up typing what I’m saying or hearing--I answered, It’s less cramped that way.

I get claustrophobic, he said.

Still concentrating on my screen I said, Well, a plane is an excellent place to feel claustrophobic.

I might get the aisle seat and then when I see you I could move to the window and we could have a chair between us. He motioned to the chair currently protecting me from any unpleasant odors he might be discharging, More room and we can talk. Do you think that would work?

Making good eye contact with my gmail, I returned with vaguery, You’ll probably have more space; it’s just a half full flight.

Suddenly, he seemed to realize that I was occupied, and he apologized for intruding.

Ever the sweet traveler, I said, Oh, you’re fine and kept typing.

Once on the plane, I looked down the aisle for the nearest empty aisle seat and my eyes fell upon the guy who liked my eyes. He was five rows back and smiling up at me.

I pretended not to see him and sat in the empty aisle seat right in front of his.

Creep.

When encountering interlopers such as this fellow and the geezer from last week I really do try be kind but curt, however, I've come to believe that even a hint of benevolence eggs on these guys.

I don’t want them to think that I’m interested in whatever offer trips along their rancid breath, but I don’t want to ignore them or be a snob, for I’m genuinely afraid that if I am a bitch to a stranger they will put me on their rape list. (Because of course rapists keep a list, Megan.) The stranger might be wholly innocent. They may truly think I have beautiful eyes and aren’t hitting on me at all just gifting a fellow traveler a compliment, but they could be a vengeful rapist, and if I’m a brat they might pinpoint me as a target. But then, if they’re not vengeful and just a rapist they might see me as an easy, less-resistant target. I can’t win.

7 comments:

Hen Pecks said...

It's the hair. This didn't happen before you cut the hair.

Jessica said...

ewwww, why are people so weird at the airport? I know there are normal people who fly on planes, but maybe not on your planes? although, it seems that since this post is here, you made it home safely. phew!

Lars said...

Amazing! With many more of these encounters you may have to make a new label.

I tend to also attract the creepos from the crap filled barrel at airports. Best encounter so far was a guy who, I kid you not, hijacked my phone while I was in the lavatory so he could get my number. I know because he called several times and left messages, disturbing. Upon returing from said lavatory he told me I had a hot ass that he would like to bounce a quarter off of. Had the shock warn off sooner I may have replied I would like to bounce my foot off his face but alas I decided it best to not interact with the neanderthal and go to sleep.

meg said...

Lars, my encounters are a bummer, but that is truly disgusting. It appears you handled it with poise; I'd likely freak out and start throwing peanuts and pretzels.

Misti said...

On my last flight a few weeks ago I sat down in my window seat (ugh) next to an older lady who seemed very nice as she commented on my green smoothie by Odwalla. She was into 'health' food and went on about it and then somehow we got into soy and its evils by making me read some magazine article of hers. Then her husband comes up and sits in the aisle introduces himself with a handshake and proceeds to go on and on and all I really want to do is read the book I have in front of me. I think they eventually got the hint, but some days I wish I could just be rude.

mrragzz said...

Lest any salacious rumors surface (or 'loping labels be applied), let me assure you and your readership in advance that when I chose the seat next to yours en route to SLC that I did so for very legitimate reasons and with little to no dishonrable intentions. While your 'do proved apposite and your eyes inoffensive, your selected seat and its companion to the right were actually highly sought-after given the lack of reclinabilty of the seats directly ahead - the next best thing to an exit row with actual leg room. Just so we're clear...;)

meg said...

Aw, Ryan and I was about to lambaste you for being creepy.

Was lovely to meet you last week. Hope your weekend was enjoyable.