I have to travel quite a bit with my work. Over the past few years I'd like to believe that I have become somewhat of a seasoned traveller. I am the guy that has his jacket, shoes, and belt off, laptop out and everything ready to go when heading through security. I am the guy that has my ID and boarding pass ready with my ID picture facing the proper way for the attendant to check me through. I sit quietly in my seat and keep to myself - I don't infringe on my neighbors space, nor do I hog both armrests. All in all, I would love to fly with someone just like me.
Unfortunately, I don't get to fly with my clones so I have also become a bit of a grump when it comes to air travel. I am not the chatty sales guy that sits next to you on your flight. I am that guy that has on headphones the second my butt is planted in my seat - there is a 50 / 50 chance they are actually plugged in to anything. I am that guy that will pretend to sleep rather than talk to Aunt Edna about her 50 kids in Fort Chipywan. I am that guy that would sooner read the barf bag instructions (and I have) than talk to Johnny Sales Man looking to match up synergies and swap cards business cards. Don't get me wrong - I am courteous to all, and will acknowledge most with a smile, some with "the nod" and even the most annoying flyer's with at least some form of a grunt. But I am not flying to make friends, to listen to a strangers problems, or chat about your family tree. I have work to do, a movie to watch, or I just want peace and quiet to escape into my own head for an hour or three.
My last flight back from Toronto was a prime example of why other air traveller's really can bother me. I always sit on the aisle as not to be trapped. I am usually in my seat before my one or two other seat mates show up. So I sit, headphones already in, waiting on the passenger lottery. Do you get the cranky old boot that his heading down the aisle, the mom and hysterical baby, the insanely hot stuck-up chick, the quiet looking suit, or the dishevelled schlump who looks like he just came off a 2 week tequila bender? Given my druthers, I will take the insanely hot stuck-up chick or the suit any day. The insanely hot stuck-up chick will never talk to you and the suit is too preoccupied with his Blackberry to notice anyone. My last trip I lost the lottery...
I sit in my seat, the potential seat mates come down the aisle and I spot him - two week bender schlump. I pray to the travel gods that he passes by until I hear, "That's my seat". My heart drops but not before I get drilled in the side of the head with his carry on as he swings it up and proceeds to ram it into the overhead bin. As the stars begin to fade from my vision, I watch as the guy looks like Mike Tyson pummeling his bag into the overhead bin. I am not sure of what else was in the overhead but I can tell you it was crushed as Stinky Heavy Weight Champ pounds his bag into submission. Stinky Bag Crusher reeks of BO and that lovely scent of a 6 day drinking binge forcing its' way out of his every pore. Stinky McBooze Sweats flings himself into his seat but not before grabbing the seatback in front of him and sending the old lady bouncing like a human paddle ball. Stinky Idiot Old Lady Launcher then sprawls out in his seat, taking both armrests and digs for his seat belt in my seat. If he digs any further I would swear I was getting a colonoscopy. So, Dr Stinky finally settles in and I find myself leaning out into the middle of the aisle looking for fresher air. Stinky has both armrests, half of my leg space and his elbow is digging into my side. Now I can handle a lot of things but one thing I hate more than anything else is having someone touching me - unless you are my wife, my kids, or someone that I know and can handle, get out of my personal space. I am stewing...what to do, what to do? I finally decide to let Stinky Idiot Space Hog know that unless he paid for half of my seat I suggest he get out of it, but before I get my my cranky on, Stinky starts doing these crazy ninja-esque hand exercises that looks like a cross between warding of evil spirits and blocking punches. This goes on for about 20 minutes. The good thing about this - I have completely forgotten about the invasion of my seat - the bad is now I believe that Stinky Idiot is more like Crazy Unstable Stinky Idiot. So here I sit, half in the aisle, half in my seat trying to breathe as little as possible while hoping that Unstable Stinky decides that today is not a good day to storm the cockpit. It is amazing how one can go to the "happy place" when confronted with extreme annoyance. I am firmly planted in the happy place and make no plans of leaving it anytime soon on the flight. Thankfully, we arrive at Calgary with no incident - I practically climb over people to get the hell off the airplane.
I guess this flight could have been worse, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger right? Well, maybe just more cranky...Happy travels out there folks, here is hoping you win the seat lottery and get put next to the insanely hot stuck-up chick, the suit, or if you are really lucky...grumpy ol' me.