Queen of the Road
I have been doing a lot of travelling the past few days, some planned, some not. Suffice it to say that I have been through O'Hare and Midway twice each since Thursday. I would not recommend this schedule, unless you are engaged in some sort of anthropological study of people's behavior in airports, and probably not even then. Travelling several times in such a short window has alerted me to a remarkable phenomenon of which I was not previously aware: Travel Karma. On my flight back to Chicago from Boston, I suddenly, and I don't know how this happened, turned into an annoying awful person to travel next to. The kind of person you dread, the kind of person that makes even non-religious people cross their fingers and say a little prayer that goes "please please please can't I just sit next to some exec who travels 300 days a year and doesn't want to talk to me any more than I want to talk to him so we can just sit in stony silence and ignore each other? Please?" I could see this happening to myself. It was like an out of body experience, me floating above myself in seat 11A, marvelling at how I could be so goddamned annoying but powerless to do anything to stop it. First I got myself into a conversation with the person sitting in 11C, and managed within 2 minutes to make a vaguely condescending comment about his major in forestry. Then, to overcompensate for my accidental condescention, I proceeded to ask him lots of cheerful questions about forestry, except I don't know enough about forestry to ask more than your basic, "so, forestry, eh?" so my cheerful question had a tinge of desperation to them. Nice. This was compounded by the fact that the person sitting in 11B had arrived by this time so I was asking chipper, poorly-formed questions across him to try to make nice with Mr. Forest in 11C. Then my light didn't work and I somehow managed to suggest to 11B that if he would refocus his light we might both be able to read, even though I didn't really want him to and could have used the nap, and in truth we really couldn't both see and he ended up reading his magazine in the dark. I felt bad about this and tried to convince him to move it back so he could see, saying something like "my light not working is just God's way of telling me I'm not meant to do Constitutional Law reading on this flight." Wow. Evangelical and snobby. A rare combination. God doesn't give me messages often. Or ever. Not sure why I chose that moment to start hearing the Word. Then I spilled a diet coke all over my lap. And 11Bs. Seriously, it was one of those flights where my floating-above-myself self wished that the lady across the aisle would just throw up or strip naked or something to divert the attention away from my own craziness. Then, on my next flight, from Chicago to San Francisco, I sat down next to a man who practiced, shall we say, a casual approach to hygeine. (Motto: "less bathing, more cologne!") Awful. Epically awful. And when the pilot got on the intercom and said "well, folks, we're looking at a pretty stiff headwind, so this flight is going to take a little longer than normal" and told us that our flying time would be FIVE AND A HALF HOURS (normal length: four hours), that's when I knew. I knew in the way that sitting next to Mr. Smelly (who also did a weird, grating, tooth-sucking noise for most of the flight) for an extra hour and a half makes clear: this was payback for my insanity on the way home from Boston. Travel Karma, my friends. Travel Karma.