Thursday, September 25, 2008


Hello all. I'm back from Minnesota. It was a great trip, and I'll fill you in tomorrow, but today I'd like to share a story of horror and disgust. We'll get this out of the way. Let me tell you about my flights.

I have mixed feelings about flying. It's great for a lot of reasons, the biggest being that it's so, so much faster than driving. A road trip to my parent's house is about 20 hours, which I usually split into two days. I love a good road trip, but don't always have that kind of time. Airports are fun. All the rushing about, the business people with their lap tops and financial sections. You feel a bit like you're part of an elite crowd. And there's shopping. The gift shops in airports of other cities are fun to browse through. I like to buy a book, and then keep my bording pass in it as my bookmark. Picking people up at the airport is always nice, especially when it's family. And, I love the idea of going somewhere. Travel is exciting, and an airport has that feeling of travel more than anywhere else.

But, I hate being on an airplane. It's crowded and stuffy and you can't move. I don't like strangers well enough to be packed in like sardines with them. Having a book or magazine or movie to watch doesn't do much to distract from the fact that the person in front of me just reclined his seat, and now I'm pinned back into mine with his head six inches in front of my face. Intolerable.

This last flight connected in Denver. I got there about 8:15 Tuesday evening, had an hour lay over, then then got on the plane to Salt Lake. I always reserve the aisle seat because I can get claustrophobic and panicky trapped in next to the window. As I walked down the row to my seat, I noticed that someone was in it - a very, very large man. Very large. He had my seat, and his wife (I'm assuming) was in next to the window. They left the seat between them open. I was a little concerned that maybe the airline had made a mistake and double booked the seat, but when I got to it and told the man that it was mine, he moved over without argument. It seemed strange that he would buckle himself into what he knew was the wrong seat, but whatever. He did his best to slide into the middle, and his wife tried to push herself as close to the wall as possible so that he could get away from my spot. Still, his size took up about half of my seat. I'm not a small person myself, and need all of my seat, so seeing that I was going to have to share it with this man did not make me happy. But, I had to make the best of it. The arm rest that usually acts as a bit of a separation between bodies had to go up. He didn't fit between them. I squished down into what room was left, and then leaned as far away from him as possible to avoid too much physical contact. It was no use. We were going to be touching from shoulder to toe no matter what. I got out my magazine and silently repeated, "It's only an hour to Salt Lake. It's only an hour. It's only an hour...".

We took off. I could tell from what was going on beside me that the man's wife, who was smashed up against the wall, was not doing well. Poor woman probably couldn't breathe. After about 15 minutes into the flight, the man asked the flight attendant for an airsick bag. Not a good sign. I asked him if they needed to get out. I would have gladly moved out of the way. She said that she didn't need to go. That was a lie. Within minutes she was throwing up into the bag. I bolted. I got up and to the bathroom just as fast as I could. I would have gone anywhere to get away from that. If there's one thing I cannot stomach, it's seeing someone else not stomaching something. This is why I close my eyes during those scenes in hospital dramas. I went to the lavatory and stayed in there for about five minutes. I wasn't sick myself, but knew that I wouldn't stay healthy if I went back before that woman was done. After some time, I slowly made my way to our row, just as the man was handing the sick bag to a flight attendant (anyone who thinks that being a flight attendant is a glam job has never seen that). As I was sitting down, the man said, "I'm sorry if that got to you." OF COURSE IT GOT TO ME! WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Honestly. Why didn't she get up and go to the bathroom? Why sit there, surrounded by people, in a confined space, and puke? These questions will haunt me for the rest of my life.

I almost cried when they announced our decent into Salt Lake. Tears of relief and release. That flight was a test of my endurance. I just barely survived.

I took a long shower when I got home and tried scrub it all off of me. I felt better, but still couldn't clear my head. It took some time to go to sleep. It will be a long, long time before I get on an airplane again.


Kelli said...

Nasty. I am so sorry for that poor woman, the big man and poor Angie the innocent victim! Glad you made it back alive!

Nicole said...

NO FREAKING WAY. That is every nightmare I ever had (EVER) riding the bus for 5 years. I am so so so sorry you lived it. BOOOOOO.

Ew. And being smashed in next to strangers. Never.

Tiffany said...

Best line ever: If there's one thing I cannot stomach, it's seeing someone else not stomaching something.

I want it on a t-shirt.

Glad you're back safe and sound!