As I packed my suitcase for the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop in Dayton, OH, I told my mother, “You know the TSA agents are going to think I’m trying to smuggle uncut cocaine.” She laughed, but it was true, the fifteen copies of my book that I layered on the bottom of my suitcase were sure to draw attention when x-rayed. I’m no drug smuggler, but I’ve seen enough episodes of “Locked Up: Abroad” to know what they are looking for in airport security. Even though I knew I had nothing illegal in my bag, I felt suspicious just knowing that somewhere in the airport some dude was digging through my underwear and disappointed. Not just because my underwear is so boring, but because his “big bust” just turned out to be a bunch of books.
“What? Tomatoes are fruit… ketchup isn’t a vegetable. What an idiot!” I could see him saying as he grudgingly threw my belongings back in my bag.
I had a lot of time to think about flying and the way airlines handle the loading and unloading of passengers and I was confizzled.
Why are First Class passengers loaded first? On the surface this seems like a no-brainer— if you’re a kindergartner whose sole ambition in life is to be the Line Leader and first to do everything— but is the goal to be the person who is on the plane the longest? I simply don’t understand why first class passengers would want to sit on the plane for longer, but I guess the free booze helps take the edge off.
I personally wait until they make the announcement for the final boarding call before I get on the plane because I want to minimize the amount of time I spend spooning with a perfect stranger. In addition, because these geniuses insist on loading from the front of the plane to the back, you have to stand in line while every single person in front of you, stows their bag then crawls into their seat. If the plane was loaded from the back to the front, you wouldn’t have to wait for ten years for people to put their stuff away so you could sit down.
Even though these grown folks know that they will have to stand in the aisle awkwardly with their butt in someone’s face, and their cleavage in another’s, they still rush to get in line to board the plane and hover over each other, as if at any second the plane will pull away from the gate and leave them behind. I’m pretty sure if there are 200 people still standing in the terminal and you are seated in row 87 of a 30 row airplane that it’d be safe for you to sit down for a few minutes.
My flight back from Dayton was like being a crew member on the Titanic— minus the riverdancing and ya know, the whole death by glacier part. I had a window seat in the very last row of the airplane but there was no window, just a blank wall. The man seated next to me, who I’m sure is a kind and generous person, took up all of his seat and half of mine. I couldn’t see out of a window and was being pressed against the wall. Because I was seated behind the bulkhead I couldn’t see through the cabin of the plane. My chest started getting tight and I began to panic. I’m not normally claustrophobic but I felt like I’d been put in full body Spanx. (That’s what the kids are calling girdles these days.)
I closed my eyes and concentrated on breathing through my nose and quickly fell asleep. I woke up because I dreamed I was playing crack the egg on the trampoline with my kids and opened my eyes to see other passengers bouncing in their seats like paddle balls. Nobody was happier than me when the plane and my heart skidded to a stop on the runway. My heart will go on, but… not if I have to get on a plane again anytime soon.