The only trouble with travel, is travelers. Getting away from it all, usually involves having to get along with others who are trying to get gone too.
As I search for my seat on the flight from Manila to Seoul, I see a tacky sweater laying claim to where my butt’s supposed to be. The dude’s obviously trying to pull a switch-a-roo on me. However, I’m the type who makes certain to always book the aisle. I’ve looked out enough windows at 30,000 feet to note how cool the clouds look. But I need the added room the aisle provides guys my size. I like that I can at least stretch one leg out–despite the risk of injury to toe and elbow from a frantic beverage cart.
“You’re in my seat, ” the older Filipino man says. He’s clearly ex military and likely more used to giving orders than taking them.
“Sorry pal,” I reply. “B is aisle and A is window and I’ve already confirmed this with the attendant.” He doesn’t want to die on this hill, so instead the larger battle for possession of the armrest commences at the start of this 4-hour flight to South Korea.
Wheels touch down at 5 A.M. at the Incheon Airport and I head directly to its lovely rest and relaxation area where free massage chairs, restaurants and complementary hot showers await. But before that, I try to get some sleep until the overtly audible whispers of two Australians keep buzzing about my periphery as gnats might in a mini aerial dogfight–whiszzzsper-whisper-buzz…
I have friends who if they were with me, would simply turn to them and say, “Hey fellas, notice how everyone BUT YOU are trying to sleep here? There’s a Dear Gabby section over there. Buzz off dicks.”
I always admire those who can speak their mind this way. I usually rely on friends like this to save me from having to send back raw eggs and burnt toast.
I’m simply not the hero of my own dreams when it comes to confrontation.
So I move instead–and huff a little–hoping that through osmosis, or the mystery that is Dark Matter, that these two will fully get my drift and forever learn their lesson as I slump off to find coffee rather than sleep.
As I settle into a rhythm, trying to finish this blog posting, I begin to hear, beep, cough, beep, beep, sniffle, cough, fart, sniffle, beep … Seems a sick Asian woman behind me hasn’t thought to silence her key pad tones. At first I simply thought she couldn’t remember the number she was calling, and had to re-dial it nine times. Then I thought, maybe she’s trying to call friends on Mars, or some other planet which requires 47 digits. The last option for purposely being so annoying seemed fantastical. Could she simply just be oblivious to the fact that each tap she made on her phone was like a flock of Angry Birds pecking out my eyeballs?
Maybe if I’d slept before trying to pen this post; if I were less irritable to begin with; I’d simply block out all the snorts and phlegm gurgling surrounding me. I see many people with surgical face masks, poised for the apparent pandemic to hit any moment. I now understand their reason for wearing them and only wish I looked as creepy. Maybe I’d find more room to myself.
But after the free massage and shower, I feel ready now to tackle what comes next. This time tomorrow I’ll be in San Francisco. When I touch down there, I’ll have to navigate the familiar mob of traffic I grew up with, and I’m sure I’ll long for these times when I’m only being shuffled about from bus to taxi to terminal.
Until then, I just hope when I board the next plane, that I don’t have to sit next to someone like me for the next 10 hours.