I know why they won't let you check in for your flight. You're late! You. Are. Late...!!!
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Said the man standing behind me while waiting at the Northwest counter. I looked into his light blue eyes and couldn't decide what was more annoying, the shade of his crystalline eyes or the jovial tone he used to inform me that I was late. And that's why I couldn't check in. Isn't that just hilarious?!?!
Bear in mind, I had not slept at all the night before. Not one wink. And sleep deprivation is a form of torture in some countries, you know. If sleep deprivation alone is a form of torture, then imagine what you get when you combine that with the Philadelphia Airport.
Saddam Hussein himself might not have been able to derive something so devilishly awful for his worst offenders.
And I am an artist, not a Green Beret or Navy Seal or whatever it is that you become after lots and lots of training in which the art of learning to survive torture is acquired.
Which is why I looked right into that man's annoyingly light blue eyes and asked him how exactly he thought that was going to help right now. Seriously, I said, I realize I am late. I KNOW this. How does it help to hear you tell me that? HOW?
He kept smiling and didn't even seem to blink, which would have been a nice reprieve from those eyes.
And I noticed he didn't have an answer.
Ma'am, the lady in blue who was mostly talking to another lady in blue stopped to address me. You're gonna have to put that, and she indicated to my small purse slung over my shoulder, into that, and she indicated to my book bag.
Why? I asked, having never before been told to do this at security. And believe me, I fly a lot. I sort of have my system down.
Because you're only allowed two carry-ons, she said, pointedly looking at the polka dot roller bag I was holding onto.
I understand that, and I always throw my little purse into my book bag when I board the plane, but it's where I keep my ID and my money, so I keep it on hand where I can see it until then, I explained.
You're only allowed two carry-ons, she reiterated.
On the plane. Not in the airport, I thought.
I told her again that I will definitely consolidate before I board, but right now I liked to keep my purse with all my important documents handy.
She wouldn't back down. So I informed her that I will take my purse back out as soon as I walk past her. This made her angry.
I can't imagine why.
She then told all of the people in blue what I had said, and kept repeating how she couldn't believe I had said that to her face.
I made a show of putting the purse in my backpack. I slowly walked past her for about ten paces. And then I took my purse back out and slung it over my shoulder right where it belonged.
Maybe not my finest moment, but remember, I have not been trained in how to withstand the sleep-deprivation crazies.
Which is why I was maybe a little crazy on this particular travel day.
Do you mind? Said the man in a snooty tone who sat next to me. We were both in the Emergency Exit Row. We'd both sworn to opening the door in the unlikely even that something should happen to the plane. We were practically in the foxhole together. But I'm pretty sure the other soldier in the foxhole doesn't say Do you mind?
Huh? I asked.
Your foot was close to me, he said, the snooty factor of his tone still reading at dangerously high levels.
I made sure my foot was not beyond the small square that I had paid roughly $300 for. But that was it. I didn't move it any further in beyond those boundaries, because yes, I did mind.
I minded his tone.
It was snooty.
And I minded the fact that I was exhausted and one would think that 300 dollars would be enough to ensure a somewhat comfortable seat on a plane but no, you can find exactly one thousand different positions and fool yourself exactly one thousand different times into thinking that finally, THIS is comfortable, but then the next second you will feel that crick in your neck or your knees will ache or your back will be too bent or not bent enough and in the middle of all that the man next to you will say DO YOU MIND?
And you will wonder if he regularly drives old black fancy cars and asks others Pardon me, but do you have some grey poupon? because really, who even says Do you mind? anymore?
So I sat there with my foot right at that unseen line that starts at the arm rest and asked him if that was okay.
I guess, he said, noncommittally.
And then about an hour into the flight, the man sneezed and presented me with a choice: Do I say God bless you like I would normally? Or do I ask him Do you mind? Okay, not really about saying Do you mind? I wouldn't really say that. I know how much it hurts.
But to be completely honest, I didn't want to say God bless you to him. And now you know that a lot of the time, I am not nice. But I just didn't want to say it. Still, I did. I said it. And he even said thank you. And then I thought that it was maybe our own little version of reconciliation and decided to leave it at that.
But still. Do you mind, indeed.