It starts with the journey to the airport. You know you’re about to experience humanity at its worst and you won’t be able to escape it. You ride along in grim determination and simmering resignation to what’s about to unfold.
The terminal. Lost fingers point in different directions. Children with wide eyes follow along because that’s what they do. Check in. Eyes up. Blue screens answer with numbers and letters and it makes sense. Line up.
Pay attention, alright?!! The world is happening outside of your bubble of ignorant existence!! How many suitcases can one person check in?! And why are they always in front of me?!
They have a Ming Dynasty vase that needs taken care of. Naturally.
They have a passport from the South Sandwich Islands. Needs to be telegraphed there for proof of citizenship. Naturally.
“Do you have any of the illustrated banned items in your suitcase?”
“No” Hell no.
Not the time for bleating simperish humour directed at an audience of one followed by an audience of heavily armed police.
Line up. Just go. Security. Pockets. Check. Again. Laptop gymnastics. Shoes on or shoes off? How paranoid is this country?! Sidle through the portal through to the other dimension where having all your stuff back in your pockets and bag is a fundamental right of existence.
Waiting. Wait. Waiting. Ignore life. Ignore some more. Delaying the inevitable. Time doesn’t change its gait.
Gate. Time to guess which person is on your flight and sitting in very close proximity to you. With elbows of granite and phlegmy affirmations.
Boarding. Let us all gather en masse and ignore all directions. First class and business class please prance your way through the commoner yokels waving your golden tickets. Just push them out of your way at your leisurrrrre. We’ll wait. We have to. That’s how it is.
Boarding. The initial joy of freedom past the boarding counter dissipates into a line of people who struggle with luggage calisthenics in the aisles. No you probably can’t fit your grand piano in the overhead. But, by all means, block the aisle for 10 minutes trying to do so. And yes, it’s absolutely necessary for you to take your jacket off in the aisle before sitting. Fold it twenty times and place it in the overhead locker for good measure.
Seats. Planes. Hell. Every stitch sewed by satan. Every nut and bolt placed by a maniac. Armrests measured precisely by psychotic cave dwelling bat people. Yes, person in front of me, it IS more pleasurable for you to recline your seat 1 inch into my knees to watch your movie. It’s also pleasurable for me to bang my knees into your reclined seat every 10 seconds.
Food. Prisons in Guatemala have better food than airplanes. Fact. There’s always chicken. And a sprig of broccoli. And some vague sauce. Never fear, there’s always a bucket of fish heads if they run out of options by the time they come to you. Alcohol elevates the taste by making you care less about life and your tastebuds.
Turbulence is the opposite of fun. I used to stare at the sky in wonderment at clouds. Some even look like old cartoon characters. Merely joyous yet duplicitous disguises. Now I know. Now I know. Some clouds are jerks. Some clouds reach up high with their scuffy appendages and roughly tickle passing airplanes for pure enjoyment. Jerks.
Landed. Joy of joyous joys. Yes why don’t you stand up and take your bag out of the overhead whilst the reverse thrusters are still countering Newton’s 3rd Law along the runway. Stuck behind Diana Ross who has 50 suitcases and a chandelier to extract before the whole plane can trundle out of the plane weeping.
“Thank you for travelling with us. See you again.”
“Yes. Yes you will.”
About the author
Irish. Living in Singapore. Have lived in Hong Kong and Germany. Like to travel. Eat. Drink. Photograph. Film.