I hope everyone had nice holidays. My Christmas was fantastic, but I’d rather skip over that and bitch about the horrible time I had flying home. On the first leg, I was sitting next to a woman in her 50s who had a giant wad of bubble gum in her mouth and who blew big, cracking bubbles for the entire flight. I have already expressed my feelings about open-mouthed gum chewing. I could hear her even through my earplugs.
But on the second, three-hour leg of my flight, I wished for her back.
First of all, I always get aisle seats because I feel really claustrophobic crammed into the window side, and also I have this weird issue that’s mostly under control but sometimes isn’t where I’m skeeved out by various surfaces in public places. It’s a long, weird story — when I was a kid I went through a year-long period of never sitting down at all anywhere but at home because I thought that chairs were gross.
Anyway, it’s not logical, but I can’t really help it, and if I’m in a window seat on a plane, I feel as if I’m being crammed into a tiny disgusting tube that’s entirely covered in other people’s spilled food and baby spit and sweat and hair grease and other gross effluvia.
When I booked this flight, there were no seat choices available and I ended up with a window seat. So, that was bad just to begin with. I was next to this very pleasant-looking lady and her teenaged daughter, which seemed promising enough.
But shortly after I sat down, the pleasant-looking lady (who’d just eaten a sandwich) took out this really large toothpick and started cleaning out her teeth — and I mean, really working at them, using both hands to really get the toothpick way back in there.
This went on for a long time. When she was finished, she discreetly wrapped the toothpick in a bit of torn-off magazine paper and tossed it on the floor under the seat in front of her.
Then, she got out some floss.
And proceeded to floss her teeth. While on a plane.
When she was done with that, she balled the floss up, wrapped it in another bit of torn-off magazine and tossed it down next to the toothpick.
“Good God,” I thought to myself. “What’s next, is she going to clip her nails or something?”
In fact, yes. Yes, that was just what she was going to do next.
She got out her nail clippers and clipped her fingernails. On the plane. And brushed the nail clippings onto the floor.
Meanwhile, her daughter spent the entire flight studying for the MCATs, and I can see having a mom like that being excellent motivation to fly far and away in life.
The most amazing thing about flying — other than the fact that you’re actually flying in the air, as mankind was never meant to do, and crossing the country in a matter of hours while seated comfortably in a climate-controlled environment with drink service, when a trip like that used to take months of hunger, agony, and cold, and would more often than not end in a cannibalistic horror show in a mountain pass — is how impossible it is for human beings to sit quietly and inoffensively for two freaking hours without throwing a temper tantrum over the lack of food options, or grooming themselves, or groaning repeatedly at the top of their lungs, or spitting in a can, or droning on about their lives to a total stranger, or otherwise bothering everyone around them.
How hard is it to sit politely for a short plane ride and keep your thoughts to yourself and your bodily fluids inside your body? Come on, people. We can do this.