The Miracle That Is Air Travel

When it comes to travelling, I am a person who immediately unpacks upon arrival home. We have been home less than eleven hours from a week away, and I’m on my second load of laundry. This might not seem like a big thing but we also got home at 8:30 last night, and I went to bed at ten. I have friends who leave their suitcases packed for DAYS after arrival; my insane need for order will not allow that. Everything was unpacked before 9, and the disgusting cesspool that was the contents of my sons’ suitcase was in the washing machine.

It was a wonderful, fun, relaxing week with friends in Puerto Vallarta; I will have much to say about it, but today I wanted to talk about travelling. I love travelling; I love seeing new places and experiencing new things and meeting new people. As you know, I am a person who will talk to pretty much anyone, and I generally find out an entire backstory, birthplace, and future travel plans of the people who are sitting poolside next to me. I discovered that the “roaming concierge” who cleaned my sunglasses is going to be visiting my husband’s hometown in the summer, I learned the young girl on the beach walk with me is graduating in June from a high school not far from where I teach yoga, I found out that the lady whose husband was wearing only a speedo and a do-rag lives in Calgary now, but grew up only half an hour away from my husband, and she also hates the slow highway into that town.

On a zip line adventure tour, I struck up a conversation with a friendly lady from Utah who I would guess was a few years older than me. She wore denim shorts, a Live Laugh Love t-shirt, and the kind of cornrows popularized by Bo Derek in “10” and seen on thousands of sunburned women and girls on any given beach in Mexico at any time. She and her husband were on an excursion from her Mexican cruise ship, and this, she informed me, was the longest stop on their trip, so she was excited to “do more than one thing.” I asked what else she was doing, besides being strapped onto a wire and sailing over mountainous jungle, and she told me that she hoped to do some shopping, although her husband didn’t like to shop. Oh! So many lovely little shops around! I said, although I myself had no intentions of visiting them. Yes, well, I am going to go to the Walmart she said.

I have pretty good radar when it comes to ascertaining if people are amenable to conversation or not, and that is why I DIDN’T strike up a conversation with the woman and little boy who were next to me on the plane home. At first I thought it was a grandmother/ grandson combination, but then realized that was an ageist assumption of mine; she was really his mother. It became clear that they were DEFINITELY DONE with vacation, and I get it: vacation with young kids isn’t always so relaxing, is it?

Remember in On The Shores of Silver Lake, when the Ingalls girls take their very first train ride, and it’s all so incredible? The soft velvety seats and big windows! The speed of travel, which was much faster and smoother than the covered wagon going through the prairies? The little tiny handle that was stuck to a wall and when you turned the handle, water miraculously came out of it? Laura and Carrie took turns using that amazing piece of equipment, filling up the communal water cup for the family. Water! Available with only a turn of the handle! I tried to remember that on the flight home, on the MIRACLE THAT IS AIR TRAVEL.

My husband, who also has an insane need for order but with travel, always books us seats so we can be at the front of the plane, and often we are in the row right behind the “Plus” section, so we can have full-on Plus envy. The Plus people get full meals, including snacks and desserts, while the rest of us get a choice between digestive cookies and pretzels. I mean, of course: they pay a lot more for those seats and also, I just spent a week choosing cabernet over merlot for dinner, and requesting a Sally Allbright-like drink in my lounger by the pool. I’m not so hard-done by, but I found myself envying them more than usual because of my seatmates.

Here’s the thing: to quote George Costanza, we are living in a society, people! We are supposed to act in a civilized way. And one of those ways, when you are in an enclosed space hurtling through the air, is to ensure that your child is not watching things on his iPad at full volume with no headphones. At first it was just a few little games, and I can certainly tune those out. But soon it was a Lego Ninjago – movie? TV show? I have no idea, but after two hours of this, I felt like I was going to lose my mind. I kept looking over at the woman, but she had her own headphones on and was completely absorbed in her own iPad. I looked around at the people around me, wondering if anyone felt as insane as I did. Every single other person had headphones on, so no one else was bothered. I felt like Groundskeeper Willie sitting on a mechanical bull. How come no one else’s chair is doing this? I don’t like to watch movies on planes, I wanted to read my book, but I was feeling pretty edgy by this time. Meanwhile, I could hear the flight attendant working in the Plus section, Would you like chardonnay or sauvingon blanc?

I was turning into a version of me that was really not pleasant. I kept saying to myself that this was ridiculous, why was I so bothered by a little noise? Where was my yogic inner peace? I had turned into a witch from Grimm’s fairy tales who murders children for her own cannibalistic pleasure.

I tapped my husband on the shoulder; he was across the aisle watching Bohemian Rhapsody with his noise-cancelling headphones, and I explained the situation. He immediately swapped seats with me and that’s when I discovered that it was WORSE across the aisle. It was almost like the tinny noise was amplified. And then my husband did what I probably should have done but I was too scared of the snappy woman to do it: he asked the kid to wear headphones. Which he did. It’s like he was the yogi and I was the person who has a reputation for being impatient with shoddy work and stupidity.

We swapped back. I felt ridiculous for not doing that in the first place, but in my defense a) the child kept picking at and wiping his runny nose with his hands and I didn’t want to have any more contact than absolutely necessary, and b) his mother really did not seem friendly and I worried that any kind of confrontation would lead to a very uncomfortable five hour flight. Also, I went to the washroom and when I came back neither were in their seats. Finally the little boy trundled back and politely said Excuse Me, so I moved to let him in. When his mother came back she tapped me on the shoulder without saying a word. I got up to let her back to her window seat and she snapped at her child to NOT MOVE JUST STAY THERE and then proceeded to climb over my seat and over her child to get to her seat. In bare feet. I don’t know what I found stranger, that someone put her bare feet on my seat or that someone was WALKING AROUND AN AIRPLANE WITH BARE FEET.

Who does that, though? She certainly KNEW her son was watching an iPad with no headphones, but didn’t correct him. I am not a person who judges parenting very often but MY GOD. I have sat next to crying babies, toddlers, and overly-chatty people with halitosis, and none of those things have ever bothered me. Would you like a mint? I say, offering my little box of Excel. But this was something else again.

Anyway. I have much more to say and share but it’s time to change the washer and get ready for spin class. After a week of pure hedonism, I need to hit the reset button! Hope you lovelies had a great spring break! xo


  1. BARE FEET? On an AIRPLANE? To go to the BATHROOM? On an AIRPLANE? And then she stepped ON your seat?

    I was already really irritated with this woman when she didn’t ensure that her child was wearing headphones but the FEET? She is clearly from a separate planet, that is the only explanation.

  2. All of this would have really tested my ‘yogic inner peace’ as well, and is the exact reason I allow my husband to sit with the strangers whenever we are on planes and I take the two kids and deal with whatever they are up to. Also thinking I need those headphones!

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