There’s not much to do on a long airplane flight, especially when you are traveling in steerage. You know full well that all the Don Drapers in business class are being propositioned by luscious flight attendants, whilst scarfing down lobster thermidor and chugging endless glasses of champagne, but we back in steerage are left to our own devices.
I mean, what can you do to make, say, five hours (or 10 if you’re off to Europe) pass and still have a semblance of sanity left that will keep a body from turning homicidal when the morons download their steamer trunks from the overhead racks and impede your desperate need to depart the much-too-small airborne tube at the end of the flight?
There was once a time when a fellow could ogle the stewardi and fantasize about a delicious liaison with the delectable creature who was there to tend to all your needs – and in that fantasy that meant ‘all’ your needs. That has changed as flying has deteriorated and the nowadays ‘flight attendants’ are worked off their pretty buns and aren’t, well, quite as charming (even flirtatious) as once they were. I don’t blame them. I think what was once a romantic dream job has to nowadays be a pretty shitty, sweaty gig in which they have to deal with probably more obnoxious and self-indulgent assholes in one long-haul flight than the rest of us have to in a year.
Anyway, you’re sat there in a seat that does not remotely resemble the contours of your bum and you have to fill in the time once airborne. You idly ponder how the gymnastic challenges of joining the ‘mile-high-club’ would be pretty much out of the question back there in econo class where you are position. You resent the fact that the toffs in business probably even have an option to trip the carnal fantastic that is denied to you. And then you look at the exhausted face of your opposite sex traveling companion who has just been through a body scan as part of the airport bullshit and know that even if you had a private bedroom it would be denied to you. Yet the creeps back at the airport got to see all her good bits.
You try to read to while away the time. You pick up your novel and just read your damn fool head off and go through page after page even though reading on a conveyance makes you feel a bit nauseated. Well now then, that must have knocked a bit of time off. You check your watch. It has. Maybe 10 minutes. Only four hours and fifty minutes to go. OK, rent one of those little TV devices and watch a couple of episodes of Big Bang that I haven’t seen more than 30 times at home, just to gaze on Penny with whom I’d like to be exquisitely intimate and have her bear my children. That’s gotta kill more time. Yep, about an hour and I get to use those excruciatingly uncomfortable little bits of earphone crap that never work in stereo.
Now the drinks trolley comes by. Considering the tedium of the flight I’d love to order a quintuple vodka on the rocks, but since I no longer imbibe I settle for something with a vague resemblance to coffee. Actually, on our trip back from Hawaii a couple of months ago I asked for a glass of milk. I was informed that on afternoon flights they don’t serve milk. Why ever not? I haven’t yet figured out that one. So, I settled for tomato juice and gave myself stabbing heartburn for the rest of the journey. Heartburn that was compounded by the appearance of:
Wait for it:
The meal service. Found out that virtually everything that might not have been profoundly vomit-inducing was unavailable. I settled for a crackers, cheese, grape and apple slice combo that vaguely resembled a very poor, indolent, hit-the-skids, alleyway wino junkie’s ploughman’s lunch.
My memory drifted back to the days of the exquisite stewardi and Hy’s Restaurant meals of the wonderful and agonizingly lamented Wardair service when they allowed even economy travelers to feel like they were a little bit special.
By that time my bladder had alerted me it was time to head back to the toilet. Time to head back where the aisleway (very narrow aisleway of a nature that nobody can pass by your seat if you are on the aisle without jostling you) is completely cluttered with (so-called) meal and drinks trolleys.
In my quest for relief I am joined by some others, in a few cases noticeably squirming in extremis. Is it a federal aviation violation to have a pee accident on the floor? Anyway, no such thing happened. I made it to the odd little loo, peed, headed back up the long aisle to my seat only to feel 15 minutes later like I had to pee again.
Fly the fiendish skies indeed.