The Masked Man

I’ve come to accept that I am a magnet for strange strangers. As previously mentioned, if I am not in First Class, I am the very last to board the plane. The thought of standing in the tarmac for 10 minutes just to sit in the same seat I am going to spend the next 4 hours in makes absolutely zero sense to me. This morning I was excited to be on a common commuter plane in Delta Comfort. Typically this means a nice, quiet flight which is good for my to do list but bad for my blog material. Today proved me wrong.

With only two minutes before the door shuts, I board my flight from Seattle to Atlanta. As soon as I step on, I see my seat. On the aisle is a stereotypical Seattle dude- beard, trendy hat, tattooed wedding ring, black faded jeans that fit just a little too tight and a worn grey hoodie partially covering his short sleeved plaid button up collared shirt. Beside him, and soon to be beside me, is a man wearing bright blue loafers, dark jeans with light stitching (not age appropriate) and a mint green plaid shirt under a blue and black plaid sport coat- chaos from the closet for sure. I could see his little chest hairs poking out of his button up shirt. He was also wearing one of those germ prevention masks. To be honest, those always confuse me. Is he wearing it to prevent getting sick or is he sick and wearing it as a courtesy to those around him? Any mask-wearers out there know the answer to that?

I settle into my window seat and wipe down my area. I got a new backpack so I asked for a blanket to line the floor with so I could set my new bag on something cleanish and take off my heels for a few hours. He looked at me and said “well that’s a good idea. I just wear this little mask to stay free of germs.” When he spoke to me, he removed the mask. That alone confused me. Next thing I know, the lady behind me asks the flight attendant for hot water for her “witch’s brew”. I look back and the gal seemed ordinary. When the flight attendant returned she asked what was in that? The Witch responded loudly with the ingredients and went on to tell the whole plane that she always pukes on planes and this “witch’s brew” tends to reduce the chances of this happening. Gross. What in the world is going on on this plane? It’s 9:00 am on a Tuesday for Pete’s Sake!

Now, back to the Masked Man. We will call him that. The Masked Man was “that guy”. You know, the one who was flashing his Delta status all over the place while whining about not having a first class upgrade and seeming in shock that he was in a middle seat. Dude, you are NOT that big of a deal; none of us are. Anyway, back to the story.

For the first time in a while, I was in a row where we were all a reasonable size. We each fit well in our space; however, the Masked Man leaned way too far into my space. He physically had his whole shoulder across my chest. I leaned toward the window hoping my body language would act as a form of communication. He tried to chit chat removing his mask for each spoken word. I, respectfully, responded but with short words removing my headphones only to answer and not reciprocating questions to further engage. He finally got the point, I thought. For the next 3 hours, he simply stared at me. You know that kind of stare where you feel it, and when you peek over they awkwardly look away? Yeah, that kind of stare. For 3 hours.  Oh I did get a minor stare break when they served food. He spent 20 minutes eating one single sandwich and making that gross noise where you put your tongue on your teeth and suck in. He made this noise both in and out of his mask. GROSS!

The awkwardness continued. I needed to get up to use the restroom. He politely got up with me as well and decided he would go to the restroom too. Oh goodie, I was hoping to stand in line with him. He went on to tell me that he was headed to Ecuador. Mind you, he is a white 50 year old man. When I asked why, he explained to me that he lives there- illegally. His Visa ran out but they haven’t figured it out yet. After this conversation, he continued with why he was in Washington. At this point, I still have headphones in yet the cord is dangling because it is attached to nothing. A simple attempt to deter exactly what was taking place. The Masked Man was visiting his brother who is a wine enthusiast. They enjoyed five bottles of wine last night together. Beyond just telling me this, he went on to show me the wine rankings on his wine app for each of the five bottles the consumed (insert eye roll emoji here). I asked him if he was hungover. He said he wasn’t. I told him that was impressive. Out of his pocket he pulled out a small jar of cream. He said “it is because of this marijuana cream I used. I rub it on my head and temples and it keeps me hangover free. Want some? ” How in the world does one meet a 50 year old staring white man in a mask who illegally lives in Ecuador, wears conflicting outfits and uses (and carries in his pocket through the airport) marijuana cream to prevent hangovers? I can’t make this stuff up.

Until next time, Always clean your tray tables!

The Masked Mant


First Classless

I think the Travel Blog Gods were among me when I decided to write this blog. Since I started Dirty Tray Tables last week, I have not had one single flight, Sky Club visit or Uber that was not interesting. Last Thursday, I was traveling from my hotel to my meeting with a coworker. The Uber driver got out to load our suitcases into his trunk. When we looked down we noticed, he was only wearing one shoe, and he acted like that was not odd at all. He loaded our bags, opened our doors and we were on our way. What I don’t understand is why he would wear one shoe? I say go all or nothing- wear both or embrace your inner hippie and wear none.  ShUber for the win!

As the day continued, it got even better. After my meeting, I headed on to the next town. If I am not in first class, I am typically the last to board the flight. I see no reason for me to race onto the plane when I can knock out 30 minutes of work or another Sky Club Chardonnay during boarding time. This day; however, I was first class, so I loaded up with the rest of the Fancy Pants. I was assigned to seat 4B which meant there were twelve other Fancy Fliers in front of me and two others to the side of me. As I was boarding, I noticed a situation boiling.

Main Character #1- There was a man in 4C, let’s call him “Charleston”. He was wearing nicely pressed khakis, those cute loafers with the little knobs on the heel with no socks, a belt with some sort of embroidered palm tree or fish on it, right leg crossed so that foot just barely crosses into the aisle, brown hair that was professionally longer and sporting a strong pastel dress shirt. I would imagine on the weekends he frequents low country boils and a variety of trendy brunch spots on King Street.

Main Character #2- There was a man boarding First Class right in front of me, seat unknown. Let’s call him “Dude”. Dude was wearing scraggly jeans, the kind with the extra big pockets and the hammer holders. The bottoms of them were frayed in the back due to them being too long. He was wearing black shoes with black laces, not sneakers but not dress shoes either; I don’t have a term for those types of shoes. His T-shirt was black with concert dates on the back, and you could tell it had been washed a couple hundred times. He sported a ball cap and was still wearing his sunglasses, the kind that have thick arms and wrap tightly to the face. His hair was short, but he was due for one of those mid haircut neck clean ups.

Charleston was settled in and fiddling on his iPad. I was in line behind Dude. Dude had a normal sized roller-board suitcase with a whole bunch of unnecessary straps flapping around and 3 of the bag tags you fill out when you check in your bag. Charleston was minding his own business when Dude started aggressively trying to jam his suitcase in the overhead bin. Mind you, this was First Class; there were plenty of open spaces for bags. He continues making a touch of a scene banging and huffing and making noise. Charleston removes his expensive sound-reducing headphones and politely said, “Hey man, need any help?” Dude came completely unglued! He started banging his bag and Charleston’s bag around. He said aggressively to Charleston “Maybe if your bag was TSA regulation size we wouldn’t be dealing with this situation (insert a line of bad words here). Charleston then stands up and starts to rearrange, and right before my eyes Dude shoves Charleston out of the way and continues to berate him about his bag size. Charleston remained calmer than I would have- classy southern upbringings I guess.

This is where I come into the story. Seeing as I ALWAYS check my bag, I tapped Dude on the shoulder. “Dude, I just have a backpack. Why don’t you put your bag in the WIDE OPEN bin above my seat?” Dude complied. Charleston was back in his seat, fancy headphones on, leg back crossed. Dude was settled down a bit with bag stored. Dude finally pulls out his phone to find his seat. He taps on Charleston’s shoulder and says “that’s my seat” pointing to the seat right next to him. What are the chances??? The awkwardness was too much for me to handle on a 2.5 hour flight, so I looked at the Dude and said (in my “I used to be a teacher” voice) “why don’t you take my seat, and I will sit in between the two of you. After all, I don’t mind a middle seat since I don’t have very broad shoulders”. Charleston was very thankful, and I spend the next 2.5 hours sitting in between Hatfield and McCoy.  As my dad always says “There is simply no substitute for class, first class in this case.”


Airplanes are weird. They have a way of making an otherwise un-awkward situation seem extra awkward. Think about it. When you are going to a sporting event or any other predetermined seating arrangement, you simply find your seat and get there. Conversations continue and previously seated people are busy doing something else or looking at something else. Airplanes are totally different. It is like each person who walks on has a zillion sets of eyes staring at them, judging them, analyzing their next rookie traveler move…. Why is this? I hate it. I hate boarding. I hate walking down the aisle. Why is everything so stinking quiet? Why is everyone frowning?

Anyway, that was simply a side note to take me to where I was really going and that was to a train. I was in Orlando recently. For those who know airports, you know they have that snazzy white train that takes you from the terminal to baggage claim and ground transportation.  As normal, I boarded said train. I sneak my way to the center of the car in the back away from the door and properly position my legs in a way that I can secure my backpack-wearing self without touching the gross support rails. Just as I get settled, I look up to see the others on board with me.

Thankfully I was able to catch a photo of this situation because otherwise, you would think I was making it up. Approximately eight feet away from me, a man loads onto the train. He is wearing sneakers, jewelry, headphones like a seasoned traveler, a pair of jeans and a backpack. That’s it. What is missing? The dude was not wearing a shirt; fully clothed sans shirt (insert purposeful pause here to take in this situation).

What I found most perplexing about this situation were the people around him/me. No one seemed to think twice. He certainly didn’t. He was chatting with all of the people around him as a man WITH a shirt on would do.

Let’s analyze the photo….

  1. The Guy himself. He totally owns his look. Full confidence, crossed legs, shoulders high, standing square in the middle of the entry way.
  2. The TSA guard outside of the door. Is he acting like he doesn’t see it? Is he wondering if there is a rule against it? Is he intentionally not looking? Who knows, but I knew he was my best chance at rectifying the situation.
  3. The guy in the red shoes HAS to be his bud. They were chatting it up, but in a way I would chat with my workmates on a train. Not in a “dude, you should consider wearing a shirt to the airport” kind of way. Can you imagine sitting next to this guy on the plane?
  4. The two fellas chatting behind him, one of which is wearing what appears to be an Employee Self Service and Supply Chain T-shirt (Looking back at the photo now, I kinda wish I had addressed that on this commute), and the other fella tenaciously gripping the germ-laden rubber handle. How are they not looking at the guy? Why am I the only one who found this event to be odd?
  5. Last but not least, the two strangers who are standing next to him and virtually under his uncovered armpit. What are you thinking? Why not scoot over? How are you not catching me taking a photo of this event?

Anyway, the more I analyze this photo, the more I realize that maybe I am the crazy one. After all, no one else in the photo seems to be phased by the event at hand. For me, it was a blogable.

Safe Travels My Friends and ALWAYS CLEAN YOUR TRAY TABLES!

Armpit Hair, Don't Care


Armpit Hair, Don’t Care.

Life at 30,000 Feet

For a decade, I lived in a world surrounded with pubescent children with intense behavioral disorders. What I didn’t realize is how consistent my days were. Sure, each day came with new meltdowns, new interventions, new moods, and new celebrations, but for the most part, it was consistent. I knew where my classroom was. I knew who was next door. I knew my kids and their parents. I knew their disorders, their favorite foods, their triggers, and I knew all of the people I would interact with on a daily basis. I lived in a world that I thought was wildly inconsistent, but then I started a job where I travel for a large portion of my time.

I know what you are thinking- you live the coolest life! You go to New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Dallas and Chicago to name a few. You are right, to an extent. I live an amazing life. The reality of it is a bit different. I do go to these towns; however, it is typically a flight to said “cool” city, an Uber ride to the closest Marriott, a few hours of sleep in a white sheet laden bed shared by humans from all over the globe (gross),  only to wake up and Uber to a corporate office nearby and then scurry out to a flight that I nearly miss to get home and hug my munchkins one hour earlier.

Now please don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE MY JOB. If you don’t know this, you don’t know me, but I want this blog to serve a few purposes:

  1. To make people laugh.
  2. To document the interesting people and things we experience as traveling business men and women.
  3. To keep me grounded when I am normally 30,000 feet about the ground.

When I think about my working days, the photos and stories I send my friends, the people I meet that leave me looking like the little emoji guy scratching his chin, I realized, it was time to start a blog. That being said, was born.

This blog will serve as a place to share stories about the interesting world we live in via Uber, airplanes, subways, hotels, etc.  Be forewarned, my postings will be inconsistent (I’ll blame the sales cycle). It will be stories, one-liners, emotional rants and more.

Safe Travels My Friends and ALWAYS CLEAN YOUR TRAY TABLES!

Backpack Survival

I pride myself on my backpack. I think it has the necessary components to survival- seriously, I do. I am; however, on a constant search for a new backpack that doesn’t ruin my dresses, but for now I will survive out of my Workday Patagonia and use it as an excuse to constantly buy new threads.

I am “That Girl”. The one who brings a back pack into bars, restaurants and grocery stores even on the weekend (facepalm). It is my little home in a bag. As hard as it is to admit, I got out-backpacked last week. For those who know me, this is a hard pill to swallow.

Let me explain. First off, I sat down on my flight, and immediately my seatmate pulled out a honey cough drop from his backpack. It’s a funny thing to love, but I love honey cough drops. “Cough drop?” he asked. +1 for the middle-seater. The ordinary runway take off delayers took place…. 30 minutes later we still sat there. This was a week where I had come off of 2 weeks home with my daughters (spoiled), to a crazy multi-city week.

There I sat, too much time on my hands without wifi, too many sappy songs on JJ Grey and Mofro Spotify, and without control, I started to cry. I tried to force myself to stop, but I couldn’t. I wasn’t particularly sad…well yes I was, but not ‘cry in public sad.’ I couldn’t stop. Instantly, I became the subject of my own blog. “Dear Diary, Today I sat by  a fairly normally looking blonde chick who couldn’t stop crying….” Sheesh! Get it together MER!

Anyway, Backpack Guy (that’s what we will call him) reluctantly slides a travel pack of tissues from his backpack over to my tray table. Embarrassingly, I accepted, and as soon as I got my emotional self together, I inhaled my snot and said “thank you and I am sorry.”  Back to his backpack he went. “Buffalo Jerky?” he asked as he offered me some luxurious jerky from a vacuum-sealed pack guaranteed to taste delicious and make everyone around you think you tooted all at once. Over my tray table of tears, I accepted and finally started to get myself together. I looked at my seatmate, and I said “Thank you. Thank you for giving me good things from tissues to cough drops to jerky. Thank you for not judging me. Thank you for not jamming ear buds into your ear when I started to cry.”

After I got myself together, I started to admire my seatmate. He had a damn solid backpack filled with contents I did not have in my backpack- contents necessary for survival. I turned to Backpack Guy, and I said “I will trade you straight up ….my backpack for yours…no sneak peeks.” To no surprise, my offer was rejected.

As we began to descend, when my crazy ass finally pulled it together, Backpack Guy said, “I won’t trade backpacks, but I do have something you need.” He then gave me a “pen” also known as a heavy death weapon that consistently makes it through security. Sure, it writes, but if I were to write with it in a meeting, I feel certain my peers and prospects alike would be terrified of me. He continued by giving me a demo on “How to Use Said Pen”. I feel honored and terrified all at once. Cheers to “Backpack Guy”!

pen plane