Inexperienced Air Travelers

September 9, 2012

I’ll never forget the first time I flew on an airplane. I was eight years old and Mom and I flew home from visiting UJR in Providence. From the time we stepped onto the jet way, it was truly a magical experience, for me anyway. For some reason, Mom had been crying ever since UJR dropped us off at the bus depot on our way to the terminal and, if memory serves me correctly, she cried until we arrived home later that night. Once on board, I sat down in my middle seat with Mom on the aisle and a very distinguished looking business man next to me in the window seat. Like a precocious eight-year-old, I bugged my neighbor every five minutes to let me look out the window and, even though he was very nice, I imagine by the end of the flight he wanted to unlock the emergency exit door and throw my ass out of it. Anyway, we landed, Mom finally stopped crying and I went to school the next day proudly showing off the barf bag I stole from the seat pocket and the set of wings the pilot handed to me as we deboarded.

It’s been almost thirty years since that momentous trip and I can say without any hesitation that my view of air travel has done a complete one-eighty. No longer am I the bright-eyed eight year old ready to conquer the friendly skies. These days I’m more like the guy next to me on my first flight wondering why some brat keeps bothering me and why his hysterical mother won’t stop bawling and control her offspring.

My frustration begins as I pull off the highway exit to the airport. Undoubtedly, some country Bumpkin who’s braving the Wright brothers’ invention for the first time, almost misses the exit, crosses four lanes of traffic in his twelve cylinder, small penis compensating, four-wheel drive truck with the confederate flag emblazoned on the mud flaps and, of course, manages to cut me off during my favorite part of “I Believe” from The Book of Mormon, just as I’m about to exit myself. I put aside my tendency to tail gate him while honking my horn profusely, go back to my soundtrack and make my way to the Park and Ride.

But all too quickly, my urge to kill returns.

It’s not long after I make my way to the shuttle bus and sit down, does Bumpkin and his horridly obese, Bovine wife waddle in, huffing and puffing from the three tiny steps they had to climb to get inside, throw their cheap, Walmart suitcases on my vintage, green leather travel bag and proceed to plop their size 90-something waists and corresponding back sides right next to me. I try to not notice them sweating through their clothes and the fact that they smell like feet. We’re almost to the terminal when Bumpkin takes his cell phone from its protective sack that’s clipped to his belt, dials a number and continues to have a conversation with his white-trash brother-in-law about how he’s on the shuttle to the airport and he hopes “There ain’t no Arabs on my flight.” I roll my eyes, cover every part of my body that came even remotely close to them in Purell and count slowly down from ten, remembering that it’s not Bumpkin and Bovine’s fault that they’re hillbillies…it’s how they were raised.

Because I have a smart phone and because I make every effort to only travel with carry-on luggage, I bypass the check in line and go straight to security. Despite all my efforts to rid myself of Bumpkin and Bovine and through some weird trick of karmic retribution, I get stuck behind them in the security check point line . As they unload their luggage in preparation for the x-ray machine there’s Bumpkin’s obligatory joke about the scanner “shrivilin’ my nuts” (if only it did that and stop the spread of his seed), and them letting any nimrod in an army, navy or air force or marine uniform in front of them  for “protectin’ my freedom from All-Kee-Duh and the liberals.” and my personal favorite, the mentally insufficient chit-chat with the TSA agents about how much they get paid and if the benefits are any good. And, the pre-trip wouldn’t be complete without Bovine having to go through the security scanner like fifteen times, each pass removing one piece of home applied bedazzled metal from her person.

Finally, I make it through security, chug down a miniature-sized martini and Chili’s and make my way to the boarding gate. I’m not surprised when I see Bumpkin and Bovine slothing in a set of seats near the boarding counter, totally plug-blocking the outlets I need to charge my electrical devices. The thought of having to talk to them is greater than my need to be digitally connected, so I take a seat as far away from them as possible. As I wait for the plane to board and with a dead i-phone and i-pad, I watch Bumpkin and Bovine approach the gate agent no less than three times. I assume it’s to ask in the plane has seat belt extenders or to make sure that, even though they have a confirmed ticket, the plane’s not going to leave without them.

As soon as the gate agent announces that the plane has landed (which usually means there’s at least forty minutes until the next flight boards) Bumpkin and Bovine leap from their seats (actually, they do their best to lift up their fat rolls from around the seat under them without upsetting their center of gravity) and rush (as much as rotund people can) to stand as close as they can to the gate door without getting yelled at by airline employees. They stand there, biting their fingernails and sweating profusely as everyone boards. They mutter inane things like “I hope we can still get a seat” and “I hear they give you these fancy cookies on board, called Bisk-Cough.”

Thanks to BF and his frequent work travel schedule, I plop myself down in first class and order a cocktail to erase the images of Bumpkin and Bovine that have been burned into my brain. Not one second after I take my first sip, does the dynamic duo waddle on board, upsetting the balance of the plane and my comfortable state of mind. They barrel in, still worried that their confirmed ticket doesn’t mean they actually have a seat on the plane. He turns sideways to get through the aisle and brushes my face with his protruding, hairy belly. Not far behind him, she scoots by in her Vera Bradley knock-off luggage and hits me with her dog carrier that houses something that looks like the cross between a feral bunny and a New York City sewer rat.

They finally pass me, I finish my cocktail and, as the plane lands, I forget they ever invaded my existence. That is until five seconds after the pilot has announced that we’ve landed and told us it’s safe to unbuckle our seat belts. Bumpkin and Bovine barrel to the front of the plane, citing the fact that they have a connection that leaves in twenty minutes (translation: they haven’t had McDonald’s in over an hour and they’re going into DTs). I let them pass with my fingers crossed, hoping that I will never, ever, ever have to encounter them ever, ever again.

My advice to inexperienced air travelers: Stay home or, better yet, get together with your bumpkin and bovine neighbors, rent a van and drive to wherever it is you want to go. You won’t annoy people like me and you’ll be able to hit up every Crackle Barrel on your way to your destination.

My advice to everyone else: If, when you’re traveling, you find yourself displaying any of the travel faux pas demonstrated by Bumpkin and Bovine, take a good look around…because someone like me may be watching.

My advice to the man that had the misfortune of sitting next to Mom and me all those years ago: Please accept my most humble apology. I was only eight…I don’t know what Mom’s excuse was.


2 Responses to “Inexperienced Air Travelers”

  1. oh, Michael, I love this post. I, too, always carry-on and never check bagage. But I traveled with my mother a few weeks ago and went through the very long check-in line with her out of solidarity. I got into an argument with a man in front of us because he had four suitcases and took at least a solid minute to move all of them forward each time the line would advance. I asked him if he was sure that he could handle all those suitcases and if he didn’t think he should use a cart. It reminded me of how much I hate people.

  2. […] empty they bus driver shouted out “Row 6D” and a Bumpkin (for more clarification, please read Inexperienced Air Travelers) piped up “Cadillac.” Not satisfied with the level of information provided, the driver simply […]

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