I’m in another part of the country today, visiting my parents, siblings, kids, and grandkid. I normally don’t mind flying – I usually don’t worry about the plane going down in a fiery ball of flame and, despite the fact that my inner ears aren’t what they use to be, turbulence doesn’t bother me. What does sometimes bug me are the people I encounter – the airport/airline employees and my fellow passengers. You might recognize some of them from your trips:
The Angry TSA Agent: This woman stands next to the x-ray conveyor belt, barking out commands and giving passengers the stink eye if they don’t comply immediately. “Take off your jacket AND your shoes!” “The laptop MUST be out of the bag and in its OWN bin.” “Your SHOES ma’am – take them off! You are holding up the line!” “Well, how am I supposed to know you have a TSA pre-screen card if you put it in the BIN? You have to SHOW it to me, I’m not a mind reader!” This woman obviously hates her job and everyone she has to interact with – and it’s only 7am.
The Bag Abandoner: As you sit in at your gate, this woman will sit right next to you (even if there are wide expanses of open seats available). Although you attempt to read, she keeps trying to engage you in conversation – and, as soon as you make eye contact and smile politely, she will immediately tell you she needs to visit “the little girl’s room” and would you mind terribly watching her bag? Yes – yes, I WOULD mind watching your bag. Do you not hear the repeated announcements on the loudspeaker telling you not to leave your bag unattended? Do I look like a bag attender? I don’t know you, lady – for all you know, I could be a big time drug lord, ready to slip 12 pounds of cocaine into your carry-on so that you take the fall when the drug sniffing dogs come out to play.
The Snorer: This gentleman buckles himself in and is asleep before the wheels lift off. The first indication you have that something is amiss is a low, rumbling sound emanating from…where the hell is that coming from? Is that the plane engine? If so, we’re in huge trouble! Maybe there is a hostile animal – like a lion – loose in the luggage compartment? No – it’s just the Snorer. It may be difficult to spot this guy as his eyes are usually covered with sunglasses, but the slack jaw and the open mouth, from which hideous sounds reverberate, are a sure sign you’ve got a Snorer on your hands. I hope you brought your ear plugs.
The Sprawler: This person makes their way towards you like they are a Stinger missile and you are a hapless bunker where a war criminal is hiding out. They plop down beside you, proceeding to squash their too-large carry-on under the seat in front of them and, when they realize they don’t have room for their feet anymore, they spread their legs wide, putting one foot under the seat in front of YOU (scuffing your purse in the process) and one foot in the aisle – where inevitably a pregnant woman or small child will trip over it sometime during the flight. The Sprawler also loves to monopolize BOTH of the arm rests – God help you if you have a Sprawler on either side – you will spend the next several hours with your elbows pressed against your sides and your hands clasped, as if in prayer, in front of you. Come to think of it, praying may not be a bad idea at that point.
There are others, of course – The Gasper (who is afraid of flying and lets out huge gasps and squeals of alarm if the plane hits the slightest bit of turbulence); The Shrieker (usually under the age of three – but sometimes The Gasper can turn into The Shrieker if the turbulence picks up); The Kicker (again, usually one of the younger set – but I’ve seen grown-ass men who are seat Kickers, which makes me want to kick THEM…well, YOU know where); and The Gasser (I think this one is self-explanatory). All lead to…let’s just call it “interesting” flying experiences.
Do you know any of these folks? Or – could it be you ARE one of these folks?