Plane Talk

I’ve been traveling a lot the last month. I’ve racked up some serious air miles and even more hours of therapy along the way.

Not long ago, I was flying through LAX wearing cropped sweatpants and a zip-up hoodie. As I went through security, the guard told me I had to remove my hoodie and put it on the conveyer. I protested. “I’m not wearing anything under this,” I said. He had no sympathy. And I suddenly found myself standing in LAX in my sports bra as my jacket went through with my shoes.

Real friendly skies, huh?

These same low-wage employees will soon be selecting you and other travelers at random for a full body scan which will allow them to see EVERYTHING God gave you. This does not bode well for future travel.

On a more recent trip, I found myself engaged in conversation. I’m generally not a “plane talker.” When I fly, I bury myself in a book, put my headphones on or get on my computer as soon as I’m seated. I don’t look up. I don’t glance from side to side. I speak only when spoken to. And the only thing I say to the person next to me is: “Would you mind if I put the armrest down?” or “Could you excuse me? I have to go to the bathroom.”

An elderly gentleman approached me with his ticket outstretched, “Can you read this, young lady? I can’t tell what seat number it says.” I pointed to the seat across the aisle. Then his wife, seated next to me, began to tell me about their grandkids. There was no escape. It would have been rude to pull out my headphones or turn on my computer at that point. Before you know it, the couple was discussing a newspaper article about the demand for certain North Carolina license plates. They turned to me, pointed to three letters in the article and asked what they meant?

To my dismay, they were pointing to the acronym “WTF.”

Great, I thought. THIS is why I don’t talk to people on planes.

“You really don’t want to know,” I told them. I had never uttered a four-letter word to anyone old enough to be my grandparents. But they persisted.

“It’s really bad,” I warned.

“Just say it,” they said.

So I told them.

Quickly.

Their jaws dropped. And their faces went from total confusion (“why did people want a license plate with WTF on it?”) to complete understanding. Then, they began to giggle. Before long, giggling turned to unbridled laughter. By the time we landed, we were all in tears.

These days, travel often inspires tears. But not usually happy ones.

I watched a man grow so impatient when his bag didn’t arrive in baggage claim that he actually went UP the DOWN elevator. Now, I haven’t tried that since I was 8 years old. But that angry, overweight, middle-aged man did NOT make it look easy. It was, however, much more entertaining than watching the bags go round and round.

I don’t know what’s in store for us with the increasing price of fuel and extra fees for checking baggage. But I certainly hope the airlines do something to make traveling a bit more pleasant. Maybe instead of flight attendants, they should consider having a counselor or two on board.

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