I love the white noise that bleeds from the beastly jet engines near the back of the plane. I always request a seat as close as possible to the back of the bus when I fly and they’re usually available. You can sit unperturbed and read or daydream without having to listen to that most atrocious of things: small talk. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m just as gregarious as the next guy, just so long as the next guy is a troglodyte. I loathe all of that trite “so where are you from, my name is blah blah, I hope there aren’t any babies on this flight” bullshit and I’ve found that the droning roar near the back of the plane suffocates such niceties like a pillow to the face. There are other pros: you’re usually the first to board, you’re closer to the bathrooms, and the people watching couldn’t be better.
However, there is one con… one horrible, horrible con. After all, the first to board is the last to deplane. After hours and hours of immobility, you get to stand and watch the milling hoards in front of you slowly awaken and poke about for their belongings like the travel drunk zombies they are. The bottleneck that is the center aisle reduces the average traveler’s mind activity to that of a cow and it takes for fucking ever. It’s like that odd little accordion affect you experience at stop lights. Most of us stare at the car in front of us instead of at the light. When red morphs into green, the first car moves, cueing the second and so on. If we all watched the light and started to move as one, congestion would evaporate but thanks to our latent herd mentality, it’ll never happen. Anyway, the same thing happens on an airplane, but it’s ten times worse due to exhaustion and over priced cocktails.
I usually try to take the sluggish progress in stride, and I usually fail, but there’s really nothing to be done about it. Or at least I thought not, but I learned differently after one particular four hour flight back to New Mexico from California. I was traveling with my wife and our two children, and at the time, my youngest monster had just turned two. She had slept through most of the flight but when we landed, she awoke, and as soon as her little blue eyes popped open, I could tell that she had been possessed by a seriously righteous demon while she slept. The whining and the whimpering cries of impatience started almost immediately, and as the stewardess took her sweet-ass time opening the door, I started getting the “shush your infernal child” looks.
But nobody deigned to move any faster. Just like the stewardess with her updo and permanent makeup who took forever to open the door, all the people in front of us took their time as they stretched or looked for their bags. Meanwhile, in the back of the plane, the tension mounted and mounted in the mind of one seriously pissed off two year old girl. She wanted off this plane. She wanted to go home. She wanted food and TV and blankets and she wanted them now. She had no tolerance for slowpokes; she had no understanding of human nature and the tide of selfishness in front of her. She started to cry in earnest.
“Why daddy? Why can’t we get off this plane right now?!” The looks shooting my way started to become less guarded. These people wanted absolute quiet while they ignored the fact that their doomed quest to find a missing set of headphones was retarding the lives of everybody behind them. My first instinct was to shush my child, to tell her that she needed to be quiet and wait patiently for the cattle ahead of her to deplane first, but then it hit me. Doing so would be asinine. I’d be no better than the people I complain about, the people that I write about. I lifted her up so we’d be eye to eye and I said “we can’t get off this plane until everyone else is off, and they’re moving too slow.”
I watched in awe as comprehension bloomed in her little bloodshot eyes. She started to get angry, I could see it in her boiling tears, and she started to scream “MOVE OUT OF MY WAYYYYYYYY!!” over and over. I lifted her above my head and turned her so she was facing everyone in front of us. I’d like to think I looked like John Cusack in the end of “Say Anything” when he holds that boom box over his head to profess his love for what’s-her-name but I probably didn’t. I just stood there and let her scream; it was cathartic. I imagined tendrils of my own frustration flowing from my fingertips into her little possessed body. I imagined my own pissed off will mingling with hers and filling the cabin of that 747 with a sonorous declaration of our intolerance.
Everyone looked back at once in a shocked moment of indignation, and once they realized I was doing nothing to stop a terrible twos tirade, they started moving as if they meant it. They found speed and purpose and snapped out of their head-up-ass reverie. They dug deep for a bit of altruism and got out of my monster’s way. On the way out, a rather rotund gentleman wasn’t moving fast enough for my daughter and she actually punched him with a little balled up fist. He looked at me as if seeking an apology, and I pursed my lips as if to say “ehh, what ‘cha gunna do?” That plane emptied as quickly as I’ve always wanted and after it was all over, as I was carrying my exhausted child to baggage claim, I kissed her on the cheek and whispered into her ear “good job honey, daddy loves you.”
Anyway, I write and sell books and they never cost more than a dollar. If you’re a fan of fiction, you should check out Trailer Park Juggernauts here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00704HK6Q If you’re a fan of real life with just a sprinkling of fiction, you should check out Ephemeral Truths and Short Fiction here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AYRAXNI