Traveling, like all things disruptive, brings out the best and worst in people. Today was an exercise in the worst.
I got on the flight, the typical flight where the last person on board has to be greased up to get in their seat. No upgrade possible, not even ‘economy comfort’. So I was sitting amongst what felt like several hundred strangers all in my personal space.
Then I heard the voice, close by and loud. A woman’s voice that seems to carry throughout the plane, echoing down the aisle, as she began on her story to her seat companions. Her voice was in just that register that grated on my sensitive ears, and carried past the normal.
I assumed a few minutes and she would become silent, or at least become aware of the looks. I was, as I so often am wrong. When the 10,00 foot announcement came on, I grabbed the Bose headphones as quickly as I could. The three men across the aisle, sitting in front of her, were looking at the ear coverings with longing.
I could STILL hear her, over ‘This American Life’, over the Doors, over DEF LEPPARD! It was not as bad, but it was still there.
A two hour flight, and all I could figure was that she was practicing the art of circular breathing. There was no let-up.
I had to relinquish the headphones as we descended, the soliloquy was still in full flight. As we deplaned I did ask on of the men across the aisle if she had taken a breat, his response was a look of horror.
Some people are nervous about flying, and anxiety can take on many forms. But if you are on a flight amongst strangers and find yourself explaining that your offspring’s middle name is from the general who commanded your great-great-grandfathers regiment in a war (any war!), it is time to stop. It is time to take a deep breath, and exhale slowly. To be silent, to cultivate peace. Close your eyes, and remember that the people around you might be visualizing stuffing one of those nasty polyester blankets down your throat.