Planes, Pains and Automobiles


Every time he snored, the monitor bolted to the ceiling would rattle.

It was impressive, really-- he'd only just put his seat in the reclining position and we hadn't even reached 10,000 feet. Yet the man two seats over from me was already sawing Giant Redwoods with Paul Bunyon's high-end chainsaw, and drifting unawares in the Thanksgiving vacation spot of his dreams.

The rumble rivaled the jet engines, and I thanked the gods of air travel and assigned seating, who'd been kind enough to make the guy that should have been in the window seat cancel his plans this day.

Otherwise, I would have spent the flight in the middle seat next to him, fighting against hurricane force winds and hearing loss. As it was, the poor man had no idea he'd just inhaled the dude's toupee three rows ahead of us, as well as half a dozen drink napkins and a score of empty peanut bags.

He'd have to have them extracted once he reached his final destination. And I think it was going to hurt.

Ah, but that's travel for you-- you never know quite what you're going to encounter.

I had a reasonable idea I would get lost in Miami, though. I've managed to incorporate it nicely into my Thanksgiving tradition each year.

I mean, if I'm not at some point during my trip lurching in a rental car with my seat too far back...

Winding through some desolate warehouse district where seagulls fear to flap lest they get shot in a drive-by ricochet ...

And where everything is one-way and none of them are mine...

Well, it just isn't the holidays.

This time I recognized a few of the burnt out warehouses as landmarks before I became witness to any dumping of the bodies of lip-flapping ex-relatives, or congenial weapons exchanges. So I was able to U-turn back onto the right path with all my hubcaps intact, plus no price on my head, which was cool.

Of course, Miami also is home to the Free-for-All Exit Ramps. Which means that just because you've passed five exits on the right-hand side of the eight-lane highway, doesn't mean they won't test your keen NASCAR skills by tossing in a surprise left-hand exit now and then, just to mix it up a bit.

I guess I didn't spot the warning sign sooner, and found myself several lanes away from the left-hand exit I needed, in Miami holiday traffic where the drivers are already in a bad mood since Great-Auntie Consuela is coming to stay...

And that woman's a viper.

So I used my Super-Pittsburgh Parkway Powers and bullied my way over four lanes, taking myself on a Mr. Toad's Wild Ride that had me shrieking in terror all the way. As an 80s 'Vette blasted into my oncoming path going 85, I aged a year or two and now have a well-placed gray streak in my hair. But made it intact.

I'd like to know the number of stunt-drivers from The Italian Job who live in Miami. I suspect it's fairly high.

The trip as a whole was filled with sun and palm trees, not a hardship when you've come from the sleet and gray skies of the 'Burgh. If you're curious, you can check out some pics of my trip on my other blog. Just click here.

And soon it was time to return home. Due to weather and the number of flights in the air at one time-- and the fact that the Law of Averages says both coming and going cannot be on schedule-- my plane from Miami to Atlanta was delayed an hour and a half, so I'd potentially miss my connecting flight home.

But, you know-- I've discovered the benefit of being on anti-anxiety blood pressure meds. It is the pleasure of total and complete apathy.

Turns out, I just didn't give a flying fig. If we made it we made it. If not, not. I recall thinking, "Geez, I should be really cheesed about this." But then started wondering how my former seatmate was faring and whether he ever got that toupee out of his sinus cavity. Which somehow seemed a bigger issue in the Great Scheme of Things.

When we did finally get off the ground, however, it seemed the same laidback attitude was not being enjoyed by one of the flight attendants.

I dunno, maybe he'd had a dry turkey...

Maybe he'd been pushed to the brink by Thanksgiving Humanity...

Or maybe he was just feeling the inner rage of being a male middle-aged flight attendant with bright red hair working over a holiday...

But he was the first flight staff member I've seen who approached his job like a third-world dictator. I mean, I've never seen any airline attendant give seatbelt and oxygen mask instructions angry before.

His movements were crisp, jagged... Yank went the seatbelt! Snap went the band of the oxygen mask! Pointing out the emergency exits involved rigid arm swinging one step from a purposeful salute.

The lady next to me and I had been laughing about this, but soon we got ours. Out of nowhere, the redheaded squad leader swept in with his tanks and asked her, "Do you want a beverage?" the way Mussolini would have discussed his next invasion. The poor woman jumped a foot, as his white freckled face appeared before her, scowling about coffee, tea, milk and the takeover of Poland.

But, I'm home now, safe and sound. The wonderful thing about being away is having a home to come back to.

I read a quote this weekend which said, "Thanksgiving is a feast to the gods of paradox."

And if that isn't the truth. There's a certain plus-minus, a yin-yang, a plane delay versus palm tree dichotomy which weaves it's way through the hours of the holiday season, isn't there? And what it comes down to, is you can fight it-- you can sit down at Paradox's table and refuse to take a bite. Or you can belly up to it, see what it has to offer... pick and choose what you like and simply leave the rest.

Or maybe that's just the anti-anxiety meds again. You never know.

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19 comments:

Alan said...

yea, I thank the goddess for xanax Every day

JD at I Do Things said...

I take anti-anxiety meds -- not for BP but just to fly. Oh, what a difference. Plane's late? That's fine. Turbulence? Barely noticed it. Hijackers? Eh, they don't seem too unreasonable.

Great post.

JD at I Do Things

Jenn Thorson said...

Alan- There are times apathy can be a lovely, lovely thing. :) I hope you had a good holiday.

JD- One of my friends has to do that, because she's afraid of flying. It makes a huge difference for her, too.

Jonny's Mommy said...

That flight attendant story cracked me up. Wow....how uptight? He probably just got rejected by one of the other flight attendants. Oh wait...this wasn't a soap opera was it? It was reality. Well, anyhow, it was funny, but not that you got yelled at about what beverage you wanted. :-) The description just cracked me up! Like Mussolini! Love it!

ReformingGeek said...

LOL! I'm glad you had a good vacation!

I love the red-headed flight attendant part of the story. I've noticed that many of the "middle-aged" attendants have quite the attitude these days. Sheesh! At least you have a job, dude!

Jenn Thorson said...

Jonny's Mommy- Watching the guy really was hysterical-- the lady next to me and I made fast friends over it. And it could be very well he got rejected, it's hard to say. He sure had a bit too much snap and slam going with his procedures, that's all I know.

He was expressing himself about SOMETHING.

Jenn Thorson said...

Reforming Geek- Well, I don't envy them their job... it can't be easy dealing with so much humanity in such a small space. My sympathies to him over that for sure.

Melanie said...

Love that bit about bellying up to Paradox's table. So true.

Babs (Beetle) said...

You know, I don't like flying, yet I never thought to take pills for it! Does that make me a fool?

Another great post :O)

Jenn Thorson said...

Melanie- It certainly feels that way some holidays-- it's definitely an irony-filled taking the good with the bad.

Babs- No, not a fool at all. I wouldn't have the anti-anxiety stuff either if it weren't automatically in the blood pressure meds they prescribed. :)

Distressing Delilah said...

Very funny regarding the toupe!

Jenn Thorson said...

Distressing Delilah- My seatmate would have been astounded to discover how his snoring projects. I've heard opera singers who didn't get that kind of volume going. It was a serious talent.

Adullamite said...

Brilliantly funny writing!
Great stuff!

Jenn Thorson said...

Thanks, Adullamite-- glad you enjoyed! :)

Prefers Her Fantasy Life said...

I'm waiting for the day they put the anit-anxiety stuff in the drinking water.

Great post!

Jenn Thorson said...

Meg- Heh, could be interesting-- folks would walk around bummed out for a good year and wondering why, before it all evened out. :)

Chat Blanc said...

I'm sooo glad you survived mr. snorey, a wicked game of speedway frogger, and the redhead from hell!! :) Ah travel, never a dull moment.

Chaotically Calm said...

Ha-ha flight attendants are usually so chipper they make my teeth hurt. But luckily you didn't have to have to sit next to Mr. Snore a lot on the way home.

Jenn Thorson said...

Chat Blanc- You said it, lady! :) (It WAS a bit like Frogger, actually... Suddenly I am now very relieved to not have gone "splat.")

Faith- That was what was so strange about our in-flight Mussolini! All the other flight attendants were upbeat and chirpy, and then there was our angry demoted dictator.