A Business Traveler’s Resolution 2018

A dear, dear friend of mine gave me the great idea of creating a Top Ten list of 2018 Traveler’s Resolutions. Some of them will be specific to helping me grow, and some will be beneficial to all of us who travel on a constant basis. I have learned in my life that it’s the little things in life that go the longest way.

As I always do, I will start with a story.

As I was travelling to Dallas on Thursday, I forgot my new Bath and Body Works lotion was in my in my check on bag (such a rookie move). Ugh! As I saw my little, unnecessary suitcase get pushed off to the rubber gloves attendant checking line, I was so frustrated. I knew what it was. Couldn’t I just take it out and chuck it and move on? Nope, I had to wait and wait instead. As I stood there waiting my turn to have the rubber gloves run all over my undies, I watched as people lost perfumes, lotions, wrapped gifts and hair products that were clearly expensive. Some would shrug their shoulders, some would beg, some would be rude and some cry. It was interesting to watch, as  I sincerely love watching people. The gal just before me was kind of an eccentric chick. You could tell she didn’t travel often, but she didn’t suck at it. She took off her boots knowing that that had the steel rods in the heels, and she didn’t wait until waved into the scanner to go through knowing it was meant to be a fluid flow. Rubber Glove Guy frisked her floppy, little, hippy-looking bag only to find a little, tiny body spray. You could tell it was cheap, and it was mostly gone anyway. He held it up to her and she smiled and said “Hey man, thanks for doing your job and keeping us all just a little bit safer in our times of travel.” She went on her way.

Clearly, it’s this kind of thing that makes me take my AirPods out and attempt to engaged in a conversation. I rushed through my frisking, and did all I could to end up next to her on the train. Seeing as I normally get my way,  this happened. I put my AirPods completely away, and I told her, “Hey listen, I am in an airport about 50% of the days, and I really admire the way you handled losing your spray to security. I have seen so many rude reactions to people who are just doing their job. After all, the rules haven’t changed in about a decade, right?”

The hippie chick went on to tell me a story, albeit short, it was quite inspiring. Immediately when I heard it, I thought to myself, this is awesome. There are only a few people in the world who care enough about other people to do something like this for someone else. I have a handful of friends who fit this category, but not many. I know in 2018, I want to be one of them.

She said, “I didn’t used to be that nice, but you will never believe what happened to me. I was traveling to see my sister in Austin last month because we were working an exhibit. We are both artists, and we were working on a project together. It had been forever since I had traveled, so I absentmindedly, packed my art supply in my large carry on. There was approximately $400 worth of NEW paint in there all of which were over 3oz. in volume. As soon as I saw my bag go in for checking, I knew what I had done, but  I couldn’t miss my flight to go check it because of the exhibit. My heart sunk, my stomach turned over and my eyes filled with the biggest of tears. The man found the paints and asked what I wanted to do. You could tell he felt terrible. I explained that all I could do was leave them. I know for some business travelers, $400 isn’t much, but for me it’s almost a month’s rent, and big hit in my budget.” I stood quietly listening and honestly, I was fighting back tear for myself as she told the story. All I wanted was to have a stack of Amazon cards to dump into her hemp bag.

She went on, “I returned to Atlanta early Monday morning, and saw a TSA gate attendant with a brown grocery bag waiting at the top of the escalator with my name on one of the white boards. As soon as I saw it, I knew. He handed me the bag and smiled. Not only did the agent save my paint, but he went the extra step to find out my return time and wait on me to return them to me. Ever since then, I simply find the best in each situation and realize that they are just doing their jobs. Anyway, this my stop.” Jaw dropped, I said “I am Meredith. Merry Christmas. You just made my day.” She said “Bye Meredith. I am Iris. Merry Christmas to you too.”

Meredith (and hopefully Other Traveler’s) 2018 Travel Resolutions

  1. Carry a stack of $5 Starbucks Gift Cards to give to service men and women and exceptionally caring flight attendants.
  2. Give up an aisle seat for a middle when I can tell it would make the flight extremely more comfortable for them.
  3. Find an opportunity to take a First Class selfie with everyone in it and post on the blog.
  4. Compliment three fellow travelers on every trip, but make them authentic. I know if I take off my AidPods and look and listen, there are plenty of compliments to give.
  5. Sing a song with a fellow traveler in a plane, a train, an Uber or a hotel.
  6. When I see someone crying from leaving someone they love at the airport, remember for a minute, that the airport isn’t always a place of business, but for some, it’s goodbye to their friend, spouse or parent. Perhaps it’s a trip to say goodbye to a lost loved one. Perhaps it’s for a joyous occasion to see a new baby or a wedding, but maybe from someone who can’t conceive or who has been looking for “the one” for years. Take time to look around and be willing to hand over a tissue, be more patient in security or just simply make eye contact and say hello to them. In a nut shell, just slow down for a second.
  7. Snap a photo with a pilot with the cockpit in the background.
  8. Don’t eat more than one pack of Biscoff cookies per week.
  9. Pack my backpack with a small toy or fidget for the crying baby or toddler and give it to them when they can’t be consoled by a parent’s love. When the parent’s look at me and apologizes, simply say “Don’t worry. I get it. You’re doing a great job at the hardest job on Earth.”
  10. Always leave an individually wrapped Lysol wipe in the seat behind me for the next person so that they may “Always Clean Their Tray Table”.

Cheers to great trips, fun people, time with girlfriends on the weekend, new stories, and clean tray tables in 2018! Thanks for following!

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Gettin’ Drunk on a Plane

I am going to start this blog off by saying; I am not innocent to drinking in the airport. In fact, I normally have a wine or bloody on every flight that is not on the way to a prospect meeting. That being said, I also don’t get rip-roaring wasted when I am traveling. Today marks the second time in six months that I have experienced someone who is truly wasted at the airport. I’ll tell the stories individually.

The first one was in Dallas at Dallas Love Field. I finished a meeting and headed to the airport about 2 hours early to knock out some work and grab a salad of some sort. As I settled into my spot, I noticed a table of friends around 25-30. They were knocking them back one after another. The gal in the group, probably only weighing in at about 120, had three empty shot glasses in front of her and a glass of red wine. Their volume continued to increase collectively by the half hour. I excused myself to the Ladies Room to slap some new curls in my hair and kill some time. As I was curling, Little Miss 120 stumbled in. I knew this was going to get good.

I tried to keep to myself, but all I could hear was hurling noises coming out of stall one. What do I do? I am a big helper to people. I know when I am in a mess, I want help. On the other hand, I knew she was wasted, and I was flat out tired. After about three rounds of what I am sure was hot, acidic and painful barfing, out she comes. “Wow! You have great curls. Great dress. You are so pretty. I love you,” she said. “Heavens for Mercy, “I thought. I went with it. She had vomit in her hair, tears in her eyes and ketchup on her shoes. It was a mess. We worked through it, cleaned her up and got her some water. I went on to finished my curls and load up on the plane. It was 11:45am on a Tuesday.

Now for drunken experience round two. It is actively happening right now. As per norm, I arrived at the Baton Rouge airport only to discover my flight was going to be delayed. In Baton Rouge, they like to delay in 30 minute increments until the grand total exceeds 4 hours, and then they start doing hourly delays. It is awesome. I arrived at 7:30 and went to “The Restaurant”. There is only one. The bar was closed with the lights off, but I sat there anyway because I needed an outlet to charge my laptop. I was plugging away at work when a gal stumbled upon me, literally running into my back as she plopped down in the seat next to me (right next to me). Mind you, there were 18 other available seats, the lights were off and the bar was closed.

She began talking/slurring to me with a sideways mouth. “Where is the Fu@%ing bartender?” she asked.  “Well, its 8:30, so I think they may not be open. I grabbed a coffee and grits from next door and decided to sit here to work and use the outlet,” I said. She continued to rant about Delta being late and there being no booze. She explained that she knows how to make drinks and was thinking about whipping one up. For entertainment purposes, I sarcastically encouraged her. Without any verbal notice, she got up and walked away. I thought she was going to mix a drink, but instead she just left. She left all of her stuff on the bar; phone, purse, suitcase, boarding pass, passport, all of it. I will say, I was entertained, but I was also busy and not in the mood to make a new drunken friend at 8:30 am in Baton Rouge.

Five minutes later, she returned. Get this, the chick went a found a bartender. Lights on and here we go. It was the same gal who made my breakfast, and she was just as sweet as could be. Drunken Monkey ordered not one but TWO double Titos on the rocks. Strong breakfast order for sure. The “bartender” looked at me and asked what I would like. I passed seeing as my coffee was still hot, and I knew I had a long day ahead. Drunken Monkey’s response to the “bartender” was “This woman is all professional, not wanting to get wasted this morning, sitting around doing her work on her fancy laptop with her fancy little dress on and her professional little phone. She probably even has business cards. Work work work.” The “bartender” looked at me and smiled. I just winked and continued working. For the next 4 hours, she never left my side. She called me “professional woman” by name for the entire day. When we finally boarded a measly 7 hours later, she quickly passed out and went on her way.

Remember, Always Clean You Tray Tables.

It’s Not You, It’s Me.

One day I realized that my blog posts might actually be more about me and my personality (um how do I say this nicely) ”quirks.”  So a friend offered to pen an autobiography.  We’ll call her Debbie because she nailed it like Dallas. I can’t believe how well she knows me or maybe I am just that obviously weird.

I follow my own (kinda crooked) arrow.

I started this blog because I notice things like how Holden was observant to the world around him.  I find humor and wonder in the goings on of every day.  I love people and their nuisances.  However, I’m also self-aware enough to know that my “observations” could also be a by-product of my OCD. I think I’m a bit OCD but not the kind where people say they have OCD instead of just calling themselves what others call them; anal.  Is asking for an airline blanket to be able to put your backpack and shoeless feet on anal or OCD?  Sure, some people make their hotel bed (only on an upper level floor – not a bed in a ground level room with exterior doors and definitely not in a room with adjoining doors) before the cleaning crew visits but do they also clean the shower, wipe down the toilet, recreate the first tissue box tissue pretty poof and then check all that three times before leaving the room?

So here are a couple of details about little ‘ole me.  Yep, I’m kinda little.  Sometimes I need help hefting my suitcase into the overhead bin.  I’m strong but, well, not tall.  And I’m not quite that ‘ole yet.

I was raised in the south, close knit family and all which accompanies that.  I think nowadays it’s called dysfunctional.  My people owned a meat and three in Bodunk, North Carolina.  My waistline didn’t like it but the primary recipe ingredient growing up was Crisco, we are talking white gravy-white biscuit-deep fat fried southern.   I grew up with what I like to call three brothers but technically only one pain in the neck of a brother and two similar cousins, so I was a bit of a tomboy.  “Hey watch this! Ouch!” was my motto growing up. I still got that attitude. By the way when you lose at anything in my family you will get heckled by goat sounds coming from the mouths of all of them so I’m now a tad bit competitive.

I used to be kinda big, um lb number started with a “2” at some point, but I’m not anymore.  That experience has shaped me (smaller dresses means more of them, neatly, in my suitcase next to my travel steamer) and gave me insight into the adage, “everybody’s going through something.” So I like to think it also helped me to develop, at least my old weight’s worth, in empathy awareness.

I’ve been lucky to have a bunch of life experiences from surfing on the coast while getting a couple of college degrees to being a ski bum in CO.  That has helped me become a gal who likes steak tartare and Russian River Valley chards (I do like the wines) as much as chicken wings.  But I don’t eat chicken wings so much anymore because we have some chickens in our backyard at our house, you know the kinda house with the fence in the front yard?  I love my chickens but I also love that we are five minutes from a metropolitan area where I can play tennis in a competitive league and whoop some stay at home mom ass.  My friends give me a bit of grief every occasionally.  I buy cute tennis outfits and then get on the court and grunt when I serve.  But, in my defense, it takes a lot of might for a short gal to get the ball over that net.  Some of that grief from my friends also comes from belting out Patsy Cline tunes when I get a little tipsy. “Tipsy” is what us Southern gals call drunk.

My favorite TV show is Jeopardy.  I kinda got a thing for Alex Trebeck, c’mon who doesn’t like an ageless, witty, sometime mustachioed Canadian? I love being able to answer all those questions in the comfort of my own home where people don’t think I’m showing off by being a smarty pants, I just like the game of it all.

While I used to be all about hemmed jean shorts, some kind of athletic sandal with unnecessary amounts of Velcro and shaved bangs (thank Heavens I was funny otherwise I would have had zero friends) I’m now as comfortable in an Ann Taylor Loft suit in a boardroom as I am getting spider bites planting peonies in my yard.  One day, I’ll write about the time my finger swelled up so big from a spider bite I had to visit an urgent care directly after getting off the plane and the 67 year old urgent care doctor insisted on giving me a ride in his Subaru to my hotel all the while explaining to me the virtues of dream catchers and zodiac signs.

My work takes me all over the country where I give presentations to a bunch of guys in suits in boardrooms but I also have audiences of people with their “feet on the street.”  My favorite parts of my job are working with my team and helping to try to craft creative, audience specific, presentations and messaging.

I travel so much I’m referred to as “Norm” in the Sky Club, Baggage Claim Carousel B Restaurant, every Marriott lobby bar,…….you get the point.  My life experiences and my desire to escape a little bit, I don’t have the attention span to read novels, compels to me write this blog.

And remember, ALWAYS CLEAN YOUR TRAY TABLES.

Backpack on a blanket- come on!

backpack.jpg

Armed and NOT Dangerous

Just when I thought I had seen it all. I will go ahead and warn you that I did not capture a photo of this experience because honestly I enjoyed being in dry clothes, but after reading you will realize that even my weird and wonky brain could not make a story like this up. Here we go…

I board my plane and walk my Only Fancy Because of Work Perks Self up to the  front row of First Class. I am sitting next to a nice little lady. She is of African American descent, likely in her mid to late 60’s,  dressed in a long flowy skirt and a very prim and proper blouse. In her lap, she held her purse. She was in the aisle seat, and I was in the window. All was well. It was an evening flight so I partook in my glass of headache inducing airplane wine as we all settled in. The lady next to me passed on the beverage while boarding. Atypical for this time, she simply sat during boarding. She did not sleep. She did not talk. She did not look around. She only stared forward at the safety card in the pocket; thirty minutes of boarding and the same ole stare. She communicated with the staff when they asked her questions, but that was it. There was no texting, no napping, no reading, no airplane magazine sudoku, nothing. Just a good ole 30 minute stare.  Let’s call her Stare Bear.

I, on the other hand, was looking around to see if there was anyone interesting on the plane while sipping on wine, checking texts, emails, Facebook, Workday Learning, Insta, LinkedIn in cycles to pass the time. It’s very millennial of me, I know and related to my ADD affliction.  Stare Bear to the left of me was my polar opposite. I outnumbered her by 100% in the freckle contest #winning! and she would beat me 50,000 times out of 50,000 in a staring contest.

All things continue and we take off as expected. Now this is where the plot thickens. For those who may not know, in First Class, your beverages are served to you in wine glasses. In a restaurant setting or even your home, they would be less than average stemless glasses, but for some reason on a plane that make you feel all Fancy Schmancy.  I’ll admit, deep in my heart, it’s these glasses that are my favorite part of First Class and partly because they actual contain wine!

As the flight attendant comes by I, of course, order another wine; par for the post 5pm First Class flight home course. At this point I am astonished when I hear Stare Bare ask for something. She orders politely in a very volume appropriate voice, “May I please have a cup of water with no ice in a plastic cup not a glass?” The flight attendant obliges, but I am so confused. It’s like saying no to the unnecessary but kind of fun hot wash cloth you get when settling in. “Why would she want plastic?” I thought.

The flight attendant served her the water as requested, and Stare Bear reached into her purse and out she pulled a small water gun!  It was one of the clear green ones, like from the Dollar Tree, not one of the ones that looked anything like a regular gun. I say this to note that I don’t feel she was using this to deter anyone from hurting or attacking her. She takes the iceless water in the plastic cup and she opens the little plastic hole stopper. In goes the lukewarm, First Class, plane water. She gently plugs the water gun, discards the water cup and places the water gun in her right hand, finger on trigger. Now that she is armed and dangerous, she crosses her fictitious-weapon laden arms around her purse on her lap and proceeds to fall asleep for the next 3 hours until we land.  I can’t wait for the moment when another Frist Class passenger attempts a mid-flight purse snatch!  They are going to get…..soaked!!!!  Well, that doesn’t happen; go figure.  As we land, she asks for another cup but no water. She removes the plastic stopper, poured the now even warmer water into the cup and discards it with flight attendant. Since the great First Class cabin holdup didn’t happen, I begin to envision a fantastic water gun OK corral type  shootout with an awaiting grandchild when we disembark.  I’m get so excited thinking about Stare Bear maneuvering behind airport hallway columns as she takes down a 5 year old in an epic water gun battle!  The aircraft door opens, this is going to be so exciting!  She exits and is gone, slips into the airport crowd uneventfully.  So, no shoot-out dang it.  But, I at least know, ‘ole Stare Bear is out there walking around, armed and dangerous, with a green plastic water gun from Dollar Tree.

This one leaves me without a summarizing sentence. Jaw dropped, head scratching, I can only leave you with advice. ALWAYS CLEAN YOUR TRAY TABLES.

Own Up, Dude.

What the heck is the matter with people?

First thing this morning, I arrived at the Atlanta airport for my 7:00am flight to DFW. I’ll be honest, I still wished I was in my pajamas snuggled up around my body pillow, but I wasn’t. I was at the airport with other grownups. Some were traveling for business and some for fun. As I walked to the Sky Club to knock out a few last minute emails and somehow resisted a 7:00am Monday morning Bloody Mary, I looked at a plane that was boarding. Boarding the plane (too far onto the tarmack for a photo) was a group of ADULTS all of who were wearing pajamas. Listen y’all, I am not talking about yoga pants and hoodies. I am talking about the kinds of pajamas that families get around Christmas time, the ones with the pants that match the button up top. Mind you, they were adults. As mentioned in line three, I would have loved to be in my pajamas but we are in public for Pitty’s sake. What in the world?

For this trip, it was a quick turn around, and I was flying back from DFW around 3:00 pm. As I looked around the First Class cabin, I noticed nothing bloggable. There was a cute little family in front of me, who I happened to go to High School with, and a nice man next to me who lived a few miles from my Alma Mater. The rest of the rows were Plain Janes.

We started to roll back and the safety demonstration got interrupted. We were still moving in the right direction but the flight attendant came on the intercom to tell us that someone left their bag in the aisle in First Class  but they were not in First Class. This normally would have been okay but they ran out of space and the plane can’t take off until “all carry-ons are stowed properly.” Clearly, a suitcase in the middle of the aisle is not “stowed properly.”

The flight attendant came on the intercom to ask about the bag. “We have a bag without a home. Please claim so we can all make our layover.” So we waited, and waited, and she made the announcement again. We waited longer. She made the announcement again with a little sass in her voice this time. Seeing as I am in 2D, I got to hear the calls with the travel police as we rolled back to the gate. We were truly going back to the gate in what was an early flight because some knucklehead didn’t want to own up to their bag.  At that point, the flight attendant made one last plea. She walked down the aisle, looking every passenger in the eyes, holding the bag over her head (photo proof below) and asking, “is this your bag?”

Busted!  The man in 15C is the culprit. He confusedly removes his headphones and wonders why in the world the flight attendant is doing shoulder presses with HIS bag?  The Air Marshall stands down, door opens, bag gets checked and we are off and away! Thankfully I had taken the necessary precaution of asking for two wines in case this bag “situation” turned out to be something more serious.  The safety demonstration resumed, and the witty flight attendant said “people you have to listen. If you miss your connection, talk to the guy in 15C, not your follow up survey. Take your headphones out for a few minutes. This is how we feel when you quietly order your drinks.”

Hats off to the pretty and sassy flight attendant on the Delta flight from DFW to ATL!

Own Up

Xanax Snacks

Admittingly, I trust Delta a little bit too much. I actually feel like I have a personal relationship with Delta. For example, it sort of bothers me when people fly other airlines. Weird, I know. I like them for many reasons and one is that I believe that they will not fly me somewhere if the conditions are not safe. That being said, I drove all the way to the airport and walked up to the gate on the Monday when Hurricane Irma was rolling through. I trusted that they would cancel if the conditions were not safe. As I got all the way down to D1, they cancelled.  See? Good relationship.

This situation reminded me of another bloggable flight I had a few months ago on the way to Knoxville. It was a pretty rainy day, but planes were still taking off successfully. Being the short flight that is was, we loaded onto one of the little baby planes, the ones with no first class, four seats in Comfort and two seats on each side of the aisle. I was in a window seat next to what appeared to be a fairly normal lady. Let’s call her Scaredy Catherine. As we settled in, I did my normal OCD tray table, seatbelt buckle and arm rest Clorox wipe down. As I finished, I noticed that Scaredy Catherine seemed a little bit panicky. Though I wasn’t in a chatting mood, I am still empathetic by nature, so I asked her if she was ok.

She looked over at me with tears in her eyes and told me she was scared to death to fly in this weather. I tried to reassure her and tell her it would be ok. I referenced back to my personal relationship with Delta. I also reminded her that she could hop off the plane and rent a car. In three short hours, she would be in the Big Orange. Instead she decided to tough through it. Bad Decision.

As we take off, Scaredy Catherine is gripping the arm rest. Thank Heavens I wiped it down for her. You could see her veins bulging through her meaty little hands. In her defense, this flight was pretty intense. The pilot came on the intercom moments after take-off and told us that we would not be able to get above the clouds so the trip would be rocky. When she heard this, she about lost it. I decided to pull out my notebook and start handwriting a script in an effort to make her think everything was all good. Deep inside, I was a little spooked myself. We hit a big patch of turbulence and she let go of the armrest and gripped my hand. Scaredy Catherine’s hand was soaked. This gal was genuinely terrified. The gal across the aisle from her, we can call her Xanax Girl, was a bit scared too. She took out her Xanax and decided to take one.

This is where they story gets good. Scaredy Catherine spots the Xanax, and I felt like I knew what was coming. She looks over to Xanax Girl and asked if she could have some. Still holding Scaredy Catherine’s hand, I asked her “do you normally take Xanax?” “Never,” she said. Hmmmmm….. I opted to keep my opinions to myself on this one. Xanax Girl tips the bottle of pills out for Scaredy Catherine and I see two little white pills in her hand. She looked at me, looked at the pills and looked in her bag for water. I said “I don’t have any water. Sorry.” She said “me either”. I was fired up to see what was going to happen next. She does one final look around before she pops the pills into her mouth and starts CRUNCHING them with her teeth. I asked her if it would have been more reasonable to build up some saliva and attempt to swallow them in that manner. She looked at me squinting from the extreme medicinal taste that comes with chewing Xanax. She said “I am hoping that by chewing it, it will work faster.” She actually had a decent point. For 15 minutes more she held my hand tightly while I attempted to write my script with one hand and a mechanical pencil. The flight continues to be insanely uncomfortable and I notice her hand loosing up just a bit. I turn my head and notice she is snoozing- passed straight out. We finish the flight with a terrible landing which abruptly woke her up, but again Delta got us there safely. Sweet Scaredy Catherine hugged me as we off-boarded the plane. She said “thanks for your help. I don’t fly often.” This was not shocking news to me.

Remember to always clean your tray tables!

 

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.”