Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Please Fasten Your Seatbelts...

You arrive at the airport with thirty minutes prior to boarding rather than the proposed 60-90 minutes because you have failed to take into account the hoards of summer vacationers who will be flying with you. The security line stretches almost all of the way to the outside doors, but you jump in the shorter line with peace in your heart that it is the right one. Fortunately you were right, but the couple standing in the line next to you suddenly realizes that the line they have been standing in for 20 minutes is the wrong line and the frustrated woman cries, "I hate my horrible life!" with all of the gusto her drama queen self can muster. Golden-ticket holders whiz past to the front of the line carrying car seats and little ones, passing even the preferred business travelers. 

As you approach the TSA agent, you whip out your electronic ticket, conveniently located on your smart phone which the agent scans while you eye the lines to see which one you may get into to avoid the full-body scanner. Alas, the line ahead includes the metal detector only. You divide shoes and laptop into bins beside your minimalist luggage, and in moments you are on your way, but the man in front of you left one of his bags on the belt and has to go through the entire process twice. 

At the gate, you ask for an emergency seat for the extra legroom, only to later realize that the commuter plane you are on has treated every seat on the plane fairly, and your hopes for extra space are diminished. As you board, you hope that you will not have the honor of sitting beside IOUSes nor IOUSSes. As with ROUSes (Rodents of Unusual Size, as per Princess Bride), IOUSes (ndividuals of Unusual Size) does not refer to weight or health status, rather to the fact that the individual beside you exceeds the space limitations that some tiny little human likely defined as the "normal" seat size that should accommodate every human being on the earth. Oddly, this same person also determined that if you have the ability to pay for your ticket twice, you require significantly more space, because we all should know that those who have no money should somehow be much smaller than those who have money to spare. 

IOUSSes can double in meaning to define Individuals of Unusually Sickly Status, or Individuals of Unusually Strong Scent. While my quest for pure charity should one day diminish my awareness of IOUSes and IOUSSes, somehow my mortally flawed self is keenly aware of their existence at present. 

Taking your seat on the plane, you are presented in the front seat pocket with a magazine containing everything your heart has never ever desired. These exorbitantly priced items under any other circumstances would never find their way onto a weekly shopping list . However, somewhere between the moment you up open the magazine and the moment you land, your mind has determined that one or more of these items are essential, yea, even critical to obtain, and have somehow morphed into items worthy of the absurdly high prices attached to them.

Some even go so far as to tear a page out of the magazine despite the fact that the cover clearly reads "Take this with you. We'll replace it." The even more mysterious part lies in the fact that as soon as you've raised your body out of the seat to proceed off of the plane, you immediately forget the urgency of purchasing said item despite the fact that you have a torn remnant of a magazine in your shirt pocket.

If you are fortunate, you will have the pleasure of meeting colorful individuals like the Maverick Mom, a young new mother who announced to the world her maternal paternity with gusto: 

While waiting to board the plane the Maverick Mom proudly spread out her motherhood paraphernalia: a baby book complete with a sheet of notes detailing how she would implement her newfound knowledge, a breast pump, a picture of her baby, and a phonecall that identified her as the mother of a young child who was much to young to understand her as she explained that she was coming home today. 

I sat down on the plane and pulled out the Economist for some enlightened reading as the flight attendant buttoned down the overhead bins with her beauty pageant smile and grace. I glanced toward the woman sitting across the aisle to my left, curious to see if she would continue to ostentatiously broadcast her motherly status to those who may have missed this fact while sitting in the waiting area. 

The flight attendant had just announced that all electronics should be stowed, and walked through to verify that her instructions were followed. She innocently walked up to the mom, and asked the woman what the electronic device on her lap was. I could read the writing on the wall several moments before the lovely young attendant approached the woman. "It's a breast pump," the maverick mother declared as every man within earshot turned shamelessly to stare for the remainder of the conversation.

"Is it an electronic device?" asked the ill-informed attendant, oblivious to the attention she had recruited. The mother said that it was, and was encouraged to stow the item. The mother then asked if she could use it once in the air, to which the attendant replied that she could without a single disruption of her pageant smile. Once in the air, maverick mom whipped out said pump and pumped away while indiscreet men tried to catch a glimpse of this unique spectacle. She came prepared with a cover cloth, but this did not deter prying eyes. 

The poor man beside her was obviously uncomfortable and smashed himself against the window while he tried to bury his eyes in a book as she covered and uncovered, tucked and adjusted, kicked her head back and sighed loudly. Kudos to her for her boldness, I say. I have no actual reference point, so I cannot speak expertly on this, but would assume that this very short flight likely did not merit this in-flight process that could have reasonably preceded or followed the flight. Still, the mother was undaunted in her valiant oath to La Leche League (which really teaches that when you have the baby WITH you, you shouldn't let the poor darling starve, but to each her own).

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