When flying alone, who you end up sitting next to on a plane can be critical for a pleasant ‘trapped in a metal box’ experience. I shudder to recall the guy next to me on one flight who decided to watch a film about a man trapped under some rocks slowly cutting his own limbs off, thus setting off my squeamishness so much so that I ended up wrapping part of my top around my head in a makeshift vision-obstructing headscarf. I probably looked odd, but then again, he should have stuck with Tangled like all right-thinking people.
Anyway, in the last few weeks I’ve had a number of aeroplane companions. The woman with the toddler kept apologising for his existence, even though he did nothing much beyond smiling, repeating ‘aeroplane’ in Bosnian and lending me his Elmo. (In return I showed him my Kindle, which caused some confusion, even when his mother repeatedly explained it was a ‘book’. For some reason this made me feel slightly guilty.) It also helped that he was incredibly cute, while his mum came out with some unintentionally prescient work-related comments to which I had to nod and think “pretty sure there’s a meeting about that” to myself.
Before that, there was the newly-wed couple of conservative Christians from… I want to say Minneapolis. Somewhere beginning with M. And at this juncture, I want to stress that they were so incredibly deeply lovely that I’m kinda sorry I’ll never see them again. Still, we managed to pack in just about every clichéd socio-economic-political-linguistic conversation you could think of into that one flight, much to the amusement of the cabin staff. We did the guns they own, the god they worship and the government they don’t. We did Hobbes, Locke, gay marriage and Nigel Farage. Abortion? Check. Death penalty? Covered. Why people say “could care less” instead of “couldn’t care less” – they actually agreed with me on this one. Best plane debate ever.
And before that, there was no-one. I don’t mean that in a “creation of the world in seven days” sense, just that half of the seats on the plane were empty. Which was somewhat troubling, because I thought that wasn’t really supposed to happen anymore. Especially when you’re flying over the Atlantic, for goodness sake. It just seems horribly wasteful, and I feel that unused plane seats should be given up to a good cause – filling them up with tea bags, perhaps, because it is still sadly difficult to get a decent cup of tea to avert the mid-afternoon office slump.
This post brought to you by ‘Yes, I’m still in Chicago and still too lazy to write a proper blog’. Proper updates to follow. Or maybe I really will get around to writing about metro systems. Because the L is rather cool, you know.