Traveling for work has always been hard, but now it is becoming increasingly more dangerous. Just ask any executive who travels regularly, a term defined by more than three flights per month. The dangerous part is defined by the phrase “sitting in an aisle seat.”
This phenomenon has nothing to do with homeland security, long lines, marginally effective air conditioning in crowded gate “lounges”, or that most American airlines have adopted the Greyhound bus model for boarding and seating passengers (with apologies to Greyhound). No, it has to do with two seemingly unrelated things: technology, to wit “smart” phones, and the overwhelming amount of crap people bring with them on the planes, down narrow aisles that were apparently not thoughtfully designed for the epidemic of obesity in this country.
I have found that to sit on an aisle of an airplane—especially a “regional” jet—requires the same level of alertness that is essential if you sit behind the third base dugout at any major league baseball park.
Whack! Right across the face. I had let my guard down. I was shielded by another traveler and did not see the danger lurking in the aisle. It was a woman with a huge “tote” bag over her shoulder, her arms clutching more magazines and books than anyone could possibly read during a four-hour flight, holding a large coffee drink with gobs of chocolate drizzled whipped cream in her free hand, and her “smart” phone wedged between her shoulder and her ear. She was talking on the phone! I did not hear a lot, but enough to know that it is was not that important. If you think drivers are dangerous when they talk on the phone, beware of airline passengers during the boarding process. The woman had turned slightly to attempt to side step down the aisle and that is when her oversized tote bag hit me in the face full on, knocking my glasses askew. The woman didn’t have a clue her bag had just molested a passenger.
My fellow travelers—witnesses to the attack—were apparently caught between the emotions of being shocked at the woman’s lack of consideration and an impulse to laugh. Not two minutes later, when the fidgeting two-year old kicked me in the face, they yielded to the temptation.
At least the man who trying to corral his overwrought son wasn’t talking on his cell phone.
© 2012 John Gregory Self