Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Awkwardness Found in Aviation

I think we can all agree that boarding an aircraft is an uncomfortable, dreadful process. It all starts when the lady's sweet voice chirps over the intercom, "We would now like to welcome all first class passengers to board flight 1208 service to Boston," when really this cattle call sounds like "Let the madness begin. And may the odds be EVER in your favor."  (shout out, Effie.) Of course, everyone gets up regardless of class or boarding group, which creates an unavoidably awkward situation once your group is called. You know what I'm talking're standing next to a fellow "Group 2-er" shuffling toward the roped-off line after your boarding group is called, all the while wondering who will take that bold first step to establish their place further ahead in line. You don't want to be rude and boldly lunge ahead of them, but one small step (cool your jets, folks, it's just to get on the aircraft, not like a leap for mankind or anything) makes an extremely insignificant difference on your arrival time. But it's impossible to determine who actually got "in line" first.

 So ensues the first step among a series of unpleasant events. 

Then the walk down to the airplane begins. This long hallway always instills a kind of panic in me. Sometimes it's a short walk. Other times I walk for so long and take so many turns I begin to wonder if I'm walking toward an impending doom similar to those in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  The walkway always has an ever so slight downhill slope...a slope just subtle enough to where you barely notice it, but prominent enough to cause the lower half of your body to uncontrollably move forward faster than the rest of your body.  This results in an awkward motion where you try to compensate by leaning your upper body backward and jutting your pelvis out in an attempt to walk directly upright.

Then comes the small step that really matters (still not making much progress for mankind, but it's a slightly lengthier step than the one previously discussed). That step from the  uncomfortably sloped walkway onto the aircraft I think we can all agree is one of the scariest moments not only in the boarding an aircraft process, but arguably in life. I know I am always terrified that at that exact moment when I'm stepping from the hallway onto the plane, the aircraft is going to shift, leaving me either suspended in mid-air doing the splits between the two surfaces, or falling into what may look like concrete, but what I'm convinced is a free fall into an endless black abyss.

Once on the plane, there's that deathly slow walk through first class. Most first classers are already sipping on their classy cup of airplane wine or reading the NY Times on their iPad, because clearly turning off an electronic device doesn't apply if you're wearing a sweater vest. By the way, I'm no wine connoisseur (yes, Mom, I did have to Google that spelling) but the key words hinting at quality here are airplane wine...and might I add, if you're one of those people who boast about the amenities in first class like the complimentary wine and snacks, let me remind you that it is not considered complimentary if you paid close to $300 extra to get it. I get drunk in economy class for waaay cheaper.  Some high rollers are snuggled up in their 20-thread count wool blanket (key words here are  20-thread count and wool) and dozing off with a shmilk eye cover (I think we may need help with the key words on this one....leather : pleather :: silk : shmilk). But there are always those few who peer up at you as you shuffle by, some giving this shameful look as if to say "Don't judge me, my company paid for this," while others give a haughty look like, "That's right, shuffle past to where you belong, you Commoner, and let me enjoy my extra three inches of space in peace without having to look at your clearance-rack sweater."

Once past the high rollers and occasional gold digger, the tension decreases, but only just. It's as if the farther back you walk, the more your social status decreases. I usually always chose a seat toward the front of the plane to eliminate time spent waiting for people to move their always shifted luggage from the overhead bins at the end of the flight. However, on my most recent trip, I sacrificed time and convenience for one of the last rows in the plane simply so I could have a window seat...because sleeping with your head against a plastic wall and 5 inches of plexiglas is much more comfortsble than waking up on your neighbors shoulder...even worse, nodding off in the middle seatand jolting forward so violently when your head falls forward or twitching yourself awake so intensely that the other passengers stare so judgingly its as if they think you're about to beeline toward the cockpit and give them a live reenactment of  Air Force One.

Anywho...row after row I passed, and the further back I got, the more sympathetic the looks became. Even the lady whom I politely let step in front of me at the start of this whole series of shemanigans had a seat further up than me.  And as I passed her she gave me this sad look like she thought they might just stuff me in the back with the peanuts. Once I finally arrived at seat 31F, I politely said excuse me to the young lady occupying the aisle seat and she submissively got up to let me through and as I squeezed past her, I'm almost certain she patted me on the back and said "Welcome to the dark side...few survive here. And may I warn can check out, but you can never leave."

Anyone? Bueller?

Anyways...I have talked/typed for far too long about aviation. I leave you with happy thoughts, as I'm sure you will find the below video extremely interesting and perhaps, if you're at all like me, life changing. I warn you, though...if you chose to watch this with people around, loud gasps of adoration and amazement are uncontrollable when you hear this little slice of musical heaven.  You're welcome.


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