Friday, March 27, 2015

Midwestern Suffocation

After a weekend of traveling the friendly skies I have noticed some… annoying traveling habits of fellow flyers. There are those that crack their gum, those that shuffle cards for three hours (WTF?!), and those that disclose their life's story. 

I usually sit beside the latter of the group. In my family we call this the Asher Curse: where the world by one glance deems that you are a wise sage and have the answer to why their marriage fell apart or how to get through their next bout of depression. Personally I think the world can't afford therapy but somehow when they're trapped on a plane in an overbooked flight it's a great time to unload!

I've learned to enter the plane with headphones, apologizing to the talkers that I need it for the air pressure on my ears. Occasionally I sense nervousness from the person beside me and then we talk to take their mind off the rocky flight. And sometimes there are just delightful people to have conversations with. 

Unfortunately the guy behind me is not having this scenario. He has many strikes against his getting a nap in: he's British and therefore a novelty to all Midwesterners/Southerners (I'm in Texas right now), he's in the center aisle and therefore no chance of escape, he's sitting next to a conservative and elderly military guy with countless stories and opinions, and he must have left his headphones in his bag (doh!). 

If I run into him in the bathroom line I will attempt to run an op and ease him into weaning himself out of cauliflower ear for the rest of the flight. I might pretend to have run into him earlier and give him a new pair of earplugs (I carry a stash). But for now, he'll have to just suck it up and take one for the team because he's on his own. 

I noticed when I was in the teeny tiny Kansas airport there was what is described as a friendly Kansan. Now most Kansans are friendly but this is over the top. She talks to EVERYONE in sight, asking them all sorts of generic and personal questions and sharing every single thing about herself. She assumes an instant bond and sits beside you keeping the conversation going. This is the person that will ask to change seats to be near you and want to exchange addresses to be pen pals. I left her to use the restroom and she had befriended another, wondering aloud if Dallas (directly south of us) is in the same time zone. 

Oh my. Time for headphones. 

I have changed so much. I used to be a milder version of this girl but now I respect that people share and converse at their own pace. I can sit and have a lovely conversation and never exchange names; it's not always necessary. Or I can go without talking at all. So now instead of finding this friendliness well… friendly… I see it as invasive and somewhat inauthentic. I hope this girl has a safe and uneventful flight, good luck in her midterms, and a wonderful time visiting her boyfriend of three months in Colorado. However, I will forgo friending her on Facebook and I hope she doesn't internalize this. 

On the other hand, the guy next to me wants to change seats? Sure, whatever. The kid across the aisle wants to use the empty bin above me? No problem. The guy behind me wants to bring me into the conversation with the Tea Party guy? Oops sorry, I've got earphones and can't hear you. 

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