Ravings of an Exhausted Mind Or, My Encounter with The Space Invader
Flying just ain't what it used to be. Yes, some things have improved, such as the creation of smoke-free flights. Built-in in-flight entertainment. And...nope. That's about it.
Back in the good old days, you had room to be mostly comfortable. At least when my sibs got their squirmies on, they didn't poke me unless they meant to, which would have brought down the wrath of Dad and Mom from the smoking section, in the row behind us.
The airwaves and inner tubes are awash with complaints about flying, and this is going to be an addition to that. Plus, some other things.
Our flight to Newark was completely uneventful. We had emergency row seats, which meant that I didn't actually mind being in the middle seat as much. Here's something for the UN to work on, something that would bring humanitarian relief to suffering millions the world over: how about a member treaty mandating that if you have to sit in a middle seat you own the armrests? But, I digress. We arrived in Newark a bit early and the limo driver we had hired to take us to JFK to pick up a rental car was there. Very polite and helpful, but not crystal clear on where the rental cars were. Note: paying someone else to drive across New York City was worth every penny. We did wind up doing two entire tours around JFK before Mahmoud found the way into the rental car area, so we saw that airport from a whole new perspective.
From there, we headed out to my cousin's house in the middle of Connecticut. We got out of the New York area while it was still somewhat light, but rural Connecticut, on roads you don't know, in the dark, is an adventure, to say the least. We only got lost once!
We had a wonderful day+ with my cousin and her fiancé and then it was time to head back to JFK. We set out with more than three hours before we had to be there and arrived with about 20 minutes to spare. A wreck at some bridge had traffic backed up for about 45 minutes, and then once the traffic broke loose, so did all hell. Perhaps New York cars are required to spend a certain amount of time being driven like Indian taxis. Perhaps New York is where Indian drivers come to train (or, vice-versa?), or maybe it's simply that New Yorkers have a communal death wish, I don't really know. What I do know is that I spent a lot of time looking at things on my phone so that I wouldn't have to see our deaths approaching.
Turns out that New York isn't any better at airport security. After we checked in on Austrian Air and the polite but brusque ticket agent had affixed a sticker to one piece of each of our carry ons saying, "Hand Luggage Austrian Air," (No idea why, or why only one, those crazy Austrians are just like that, I guess), we girded our loins for the giant sea of human misery that is TSA. We found the line, and got into it, then suddenly, a walkie-talkie wielding agent began directing people to a different line. This happened three more times, with no apparent rhyme or reason, just whoever looked right, I guess. One agent did let parents with a newborn ahead of everyone, saying "People with newborns shouldn't have to stand in long lines" Then, she impishly added sotto voce, "Or, they could just leave the damn baby with grandma!"
And, now we come to the main subject of this post: flying sucks and the only things that would make it less so are being in first class or copious amounts of alcohol. I thought I had scored when I got an aisle seat in one of those four-across rows and the only other person was on the opposite aisle. He let out a squeal of jubilation when they shut the doors and the two middle seats were empty. "Maybe 7+ hours to Vienna won't be so bad," I thought to myself. And they weren't, for about two hours. I'd just settled in with a glass of wine and "Monsters University," when a guy asked if he could sit next to me. Apparently, turbulence farther back was getting to him. I couldn't very well say no, could I? I should have listened to my inner bitch. Mr. Space Invader started out pleasantly enough, but pretty soon he was poking me in the side with his elbow, spreading his legs into my space (Eww. I don't like sitting thigh to thigh with a total stranger.) Then, things got even better when I tried to get a nap. He COULD NOT sit still. My mother instincts very nearly clapped my hand on his leg and threatened to make him walk from here to Austria, but I didn't want to wake anyone who was fortunate enough to be asleep.
Before you decide that I was completely miserable the entire flight, let me provide you with this moment of hilarity. I needed to pee. But, I could only find one shoe, so I did some quick troubleshooting and concluded that I could make a path in the toilet using hand towels. No problem there. The problem was how to pick them up without A) touching them and B) touching to rest of the wet floor. I looked like Jennifer Anniston (I wish) doing her neurotic thing, standing with both feet on one towel while I used clean ones to pick up the gross ones. I almost used hand sanitizer on my feet but decided that was probably more OCD than I was willing to be.
I checked the flight tracker when I returned to my seat and saw that we had just two hours left before our 830 AM arrival. Breakfast soon! As we sped toward morning, the Space Invader decided to take this opportunity to stretch out on the empty seats and nap. He took off his shoes and seat belt, leaned over with his back to me and presented me with what shall forever be seared into my mind as....
The Butt Crack of Dawn.