I've been rather melancholy and introspective lately and I figure if I'm annoying myself (which I am), I'm likely annoying anyone who's reading, too, so I decided to lighten things up this evening.
I was talking to a friend recently about planning a trip to London. I haven't been in ages, I miss my peeps there, and though I have no traveling money at all right now, just thinking about a trip makes me feel better. While pricing flights in a wishful-thinking sort of way, I was reminded of the many hops over the Atlantic I took several years ago... and thought I'd relay the story of one of the more memorable ones...
For those of you who have never taken an overnight flight, they're not pleasant in general. Unless, of course, you can afford to fly First Class or in one of those nifty planes that have those cool bed-seats. Yeah. I fly Last Class. No fun. Especially since I simply cannot sleep on a plane. I've tried. I've even stayed up all night before the flight, thinking I'd be utterly exhausted and crash... er... pass out upon take-off. Yeah. No. I just wound up even more exhausted when I arrived than when I left.
Anyway, prior to this particular flight, which I took from Charlotte instead of Dulles for some reason I can't quite recall, I'd been running errands and feeling fine. I went back to my best friend's house, where I'd stayed the night before, to soak in the tub and relax before leaving for the airport. It was all good.
You know how the flu comes on really quickly, slamming into you like a freight train, leaving you fevered and in pain, curled into a fetal position, crying for your mommy? Yeah. That happened. Have you ever flown with the flu? Lordy. It's not pleasant. Not that doing anything with the flu is pleasant. But feeling like death or not, I wasn't going to miss the flight, so I loaded up on all kinds of extra-strength stuff and left for the airport.
The guy at the ticket desk checked me in and told me I must be excited, as I was glowing. I was reasonably certain my "excitement" was more about my "102 fever," but I thanked him anyway. By then, the meds were kicking in, so I had started to feel semi-human again and I was grateful.
It didn't last.
Upon boarding, I found out that my requested bulkhead seats had been given to a family with two small children. Damned children. But since the flight wasn't full, I was allowed to switch from my assigned seat to a row all by myself. I was happy about that, as my original seatmate had a rather peculiar odor about him. He smelled the way I used to smell after a long shift at the fast food place I worked at when I was in high school... and my mother wouldn't let me sit on the furniture until I'd changed out of my uniform. Anyway, even though my new seat wasn't bulkhead, it helped. As I say, I was happy enough.
That didn't last either.
You know that family with the two small children? Well, the littlest didn't like to fly. It hurt his ears. So he hurt everyone else's ears. Now, don't get me wrong, I felt for the little guy. I once flew with an ear infection and it was hell. I thought my head was going to split in two and I completely lost my hearing for a couple of days. It was awful. But by the end of this flight, I have to admit that I wanted to hang that tyke off the airplane wing by his little ears. And I was not the only one.
The rest of my flight mates left a wee bit to be desired as well. Take, for instance, they guy in front of me. We'll call him Mr. Stinky. He was, apparently, suffering from some pretty severe gastrointestinal distress. He sat, enveloped in an airy cloud of pure funk and quite happily shared his little gift with the rest of us. The woman across the aisle from me, who looked quite a bit like Lily Tomlin, kept looking over at me and mouthing, "OH MY GOD," while holding her nose. Even the flight attendant, after stopping in a particularly pungent patch of pong to deliver our drinks, whispered an, "Oh my" under her breath (which I'm sure she was holding at that point). It was bad.
The guy behind me, however, likely wasn't affected by Mr. Stinky, as I'm reasonably certain he couldn't smell. It wasn't for lack of trying, though, as he attempted (in vain) to clear his sinuses over and over and over, from the time we took off until we landed. Eight hours later. You all know the sound I'm talking about -- it's that utterly disgusting, wet, snorty sound people make when they suck big loads of snot back into their throats, only to hock it all back up seconds later. Sorry. I'm just trying to share the experience in all its... richness...
Bear in mind that the smells and sounds are hitting me when I'm feeling like holy hell. I just wanted to sleep. And after Mr. Stinky reclined his seat, which must have been broken, as it nearly landed my television in my lap (and I've never had a seat recline that far... or I likely would have slept on a plane before), I decided to move to the other seat in my empty row and recline. Sort of. I put my head on the armrest closest to the aisle and a foot on either side of the window. It was, actually, the exact position I was in when I gave birth to Ryan. Except I was more comfortable. During childbirth.
After dozing on and off for about an hour, I sat back up. Lily Tomlin (of the OH MY GOD Tomlins) had also fallen asleep. Now, when I see someone sound asleep on a plane when I desperately want to be sound asleep but can't make it happen, I usually just get pissed off. But not this time. This time I laughed. Out loud. You see, Ms. Tomlin apparently wore a wig. And as she napped, it... shifted... so that the part of the wig that should have been 'round her left ear was covering her face and the left side of her head was left quite exposed. At this point, Mr. Full-of-Snot, on his way back from the bathroom, noticed her little hair dilemma and he laughed out loud, too. That made me laugh even harder and we both caught a case of the giggles, which was not good, as laughing creates more phlegm, and Mr. Full-of-Snot did not need that, let me assure you. All the chortling woke Ms. Tomlin up, though. It took her moment to figure out what was happening, as she appeared to be a bit disoriented (as one would be if one's hair was not where it should be), and then she quickly tried to right her mop. I nearly peed in my seat.
Needless to say, I have never been so glad to reach my destination as I was to arrive at Gatwick. And I've been on flights with so much turbulence that I literally bounced off the ceiling... and flights where people have thrown up around me. This one was worse.
Thankfully, the flu didn't last long and I had a great time. The flight back was not completely unpleasant, as it was during the day, and I sat next to a lovely, funny guy, who kept me entertained. Well, I was entertained when I could hear him over the snoring from the Hagrid-like creature in front of us and the hard-of-hearing French woman who yelled at her traveling companion from London to Charlotte (not in an angry way... just loudly).
Remind me again why I like to travel?
Oh, hell. You don't need to remind me. Put me on a plane, going almost anywhere, and I'm happy. As long as I remember my noseplug, earplugs, sleep mask, and personal fan, it's all good.