Geeks With Blogs


Google My Blog

Catch me at: The List!

My InstallScript Utility Belt My Amazon Wishlist
My Standard Disclaimer

Chris G. Williams Beware: I mix tech and personal interests here.

Yesterday, I took the longest plane ride of my life so far. (Yes, I know some of you international rock star types have taken longer, but this is my story.)  Eight and a half hours (5 time zones) later and I’m sitting in Honolulu.

I knew I was in for an adventure when I got to my seat and noticed the “in-flight entertainment system” which consisted of personal monitors for every seat and on demand movies and video games. woot!

I had some work to do, but I had also spent a good chunk of my Easter weekend working on something assigned to me on Saturday morning (grumble) so I didn’t feel too bad about taking the occasional break if I wanted to.

As I get settled in, I’m always a little curious about who (or what) I’ll be sitting next to for the flight. Especially this time, since it was going to be such a long flight. The plane was divided into three groupings of seats, 2 on the left, 4 in the middle and 2 on the right. I was in the right most seat, in the middle group. The plane was also divided into three sections length-wise, and I was at the front of my section, so all in all a pretty sweet spot. No worrying about someone leaning their seat all the way back into my lap on this flight.

As I mentioned, I was the first person seated in my grouping, so I played that little “who’s going to sit next to me” game in my head as people walk towards me. It goes like this… “no, no, no, oh please god no, no, hmm ok, yeah, no, yeah, no, please?, no, no, no” and so on.

Eventually, this older couple sits down in the 2 left most seats of my group, leaving a space empty between us. At this point, I’m cautiously optimistic, since the only thing better than having someone moderately interesting sitting next to you for 8.5 hours is having NOBODY AT ALL sit next to you. (Some would argue that point, but I am who I am.)

As I was saying, the older couple starts stowing all their stuff (it amazes me how much crap people carry on to a direct flight) and they are bickering a little, back and forth, and eventually they get situated. I’m avoiding eye contact so I won’t be sucked into looking at pictures of their great-great-grandspawn for the entire flight. (You gotta set this precedent early… just sayin.)

People are still filing in, and I’m starting to weigh the prospect of an empty seat next to me versus the lack of a buffer/victim between me and the Clampets, and then I hear this squealing noise followed by a string of profanities. Apparently while the couple next to me were putting all their stuff away, the man set his McDonalds cup in his wife’s seat. Somehow, she managed to miss the cup entirely when she sat down, but then she crushed it when she scooted back into her seat to buckle in. It took a few seconds for it to soak in, apparently…

So, now, she’s hopping around complaining loudly that her seat is wet and her husband is trying to soak it up with McDonalds napkins, his blanket, her blanket, etc… and it’s about this time that the empty seat next to me gets filled. I look up and see this petite Japanese woman staring at me, then staring at them, then staring back at me, looking at the empty seat between us and I can see she’s doing the math in her head. I give her my best “wasn’t me” smile and say “aloha!” and then look back down at my Kindle.

Eventually, the flight attendant brings ol’ wet-butt a new seat cushion and some new blankets, which she sits on. The Japanese lady next to me keeps trying to stick her bag under her own seat (remember we were at the front of the section, facing a wall) and ol’ wet-butt’s husband is trying to tell her that she can’t do that because someone else’s stuff goes there. Trying to prevent an international incident before takeoff, I smile at the lady, shake my head and point to the overhead. Mission accomplished.

I suppose it goes without saying at this point that English was not her first language. Honestly though, her English was still better than my Japanese, so who am I to judge? Besides, she wasn’t scary looking, didn’t take up much room, didn’t smell bad and wasn’t overly chatty, so all in all… score!

After we got in the air, I noticed the small display panel in front of us was no longer displaying the safety nonsense (I still prefer the Fight Club version) and was now showing our approximate position, Indiana Jones style, on a map. It was also updating with altitude, speed, local time for our destination, and temperature outside the plane. Now granted, this is something I’ll probably never EVER need to know in real life, but it was still interesting to watch the temp drop as we got higher and faster. The lowest I saw it get was around –83 Farenheit. For the record, that is “OMFG I’m gonna die” cold. Minnesota’s got nothing on that. Nothing.

While I’m working, I glance over and see my “neighbor” is reading a English Phrasebook. This definitely gets my attention, because as I skim the page, I see phrases that haven’t been used in this century and I see phrases that I’m pretty sure no native-born english speaker has ever uttered… ever. The book was organized alphabetically by word, so if you looked up the word “Frog” you would find a phrase that contained that word, like this gem: “It’s nice weather for frogs.” Apparently, the subtleties of English humor has escaped the authors of this book. Given that we were going to Hawaii, some really useful phrases would have been “can I get this without the pineapple” or “I’d like another, but with a little less rum.”

While I’m noticing my neighbor, she is apparently noticing me, or rather my tattoos. She looks up, smiles, and says “I like your tattoos. I am a tattoo artist.” Well, I’ll be damned… NOW she’s interesting. She proceeds to tell me what kind of needle was used on various part of my arm, based on the depth of shading, color coverage, etc… The piece she’s looking at is about 15 years old and I have no clue if she’s right or wrong, but whatever… So I’m thinking, this chick obviously knows what’s up, maybe she lives in Hawaii and she’s on her way home.

So I ask her where her shop is. She looks at me like she doesn’t understand the questions. I ask again, “where do you tattoo?” She laughs and says, “no no… I do… umm whats the word? uhh… “ at this point, I get it… she does “cosmetic tattooing” (permanent eyeliner and crap like that) *yawn* just lost interest. Time for me to get back to work.

Fortunately, at this point they passed out the headphones and she and Mr. & Mrs wet-butt all grabbed a pair, so I was off the hook for the rest of the flight.

As far as long flights go, this could have been a lot worse. Other than being a little cramped and long, it still beats most of the flights I took from SC to TX and back each week. Fortunately my return flight is a red-eye, so I’ll sleep the whole way back.

Posted on Wednesday, April 15, 2009 12:04 PM | Back to top

Comments on this post: Adventures at 36,000 feet

# re: Adventures at 36,000 feet
Requesting Gravatar...
Yeah, I'm thinking at > 500mph, we had some serious windchill going on... where is Grand Marais?
Left by Chris G. Williams on Apr 15, 2009 3:11 PM

# re: Adventures at 36,000 feet
Requesting Gravatar...
Chris - Don't forget to post the obligatory beach pictures
Left by Brad Osterloo on Apr 15, 2009 5:26 PM

Your comment:
 (will show your gravatar)

Copyright © Chris G. Williams | Powered by: