The Friendly Skies

Loam Disher Issue: Section:

“If your seat reclines, by all means recline. It’s the way it works, like standing in line.

Check in: A woman shrieks in excitement and bum rushes the perfumed Indian gentleman using the self check in the kiosk next to me. “Is it really You?” she stutters, barely able to control herself.
“Why, Yes” he replies in a polite but wary tone, as if this is not the first or last time he will hear this today.  I realize from his response that they are not aquaintances that have miraculously found themselves at JFK on this predawn wednesday but rather that he must be a celebrity of some sort. As the woman catches her breath i discretly turn to clock his identity recognizing him immediatly as guru to the stars and housewives alike, Deepak Chopra.

I pause to fully take in the scene. This is the woman’s big chance, face to face with the spiritual advisor to presidents, movie stars, Oprah! She’s dreamt of this moment, what she would say, what mystery to have unlocked, what ancient mantra to better her and her family’s days. Their fate ever changed from this chance encounter. The Wise One is aware of this and braces himself for the million dollar question, his trademark patient smile compromised only by the evergrowing security line that is infringing on their holy space.

“are those real diamonds on your glasses?”
Mr. Chopra and I shared disappointed exhale, a choke and a sputter on my part i’ll admit and then quick as you can say rhinestone guru, she was gone screeching “ i was right! i told nancy and she wouldn’t believe me, just wait til wednesday......”. Now a lesser celebrity, or human for that matter, might have might have felt affronted by such obvious objectification of an accessory over the wearer but not this guru. With a knowing nod and a weary yet satisfied smile,
Mr. Chopra joined the comically long security line with the rest of the great ship’s passengers, bejeweled spectacles and all.

Tips for security: Drink all remaining liquids before reaching the security checkpoint BUT not so far back in line that by the time you are finally 45th you need to pee so bad and you’re alone so you cant leave the line and all nine members of the family in front of you are wearing knee high laced hiking boots, have seventy five carry ons, three strollers to collapse and of course their id’s are buried in bag number 52. Or was it 24? If you escape this fate then attempt to not look at the forced disrobing as a demeaning experience, treat it like a bit of sanctioned exhibitionism. Wear cute knickers so that when your beltless pants inevitably slip down they reveal your naughty side. Remember though, funky socks will kill the whole mood faster then yelling fire.

Taking off: Whatever you do no matter how excited or cavalier you’re feeling after waiting in the airport bar for your delayed flight, do not think about the thing that is about to happen.  Think of the perfect cappucino awaiting when you arrive, the job you are embarking on, the relative you are dreading to see. Anything but the fact that a giant can with wings and engines and hundreds of people is about to lift off a wet runway and somehow make it 3000 miles at 30000 feet and manage to land and that it just did this ten minutes before you boarded and will attempt
 to do it again the moment you vacate your seat.

Once airborne, take off your shoes and settle in. it’s going to be a while. Not twenty days to the mountain pass then three weeks if the snow has melted  and when it hasn’t sleeping with one eye open watching that Danny Donner ogling what’s left of your fleshy belly. Not that long, but long. Even a short flight is long. Water, a crossword or book or us weekly. If your seat reclines, by all means recline. It’s the way it works, like standing in line. You can try to pay it forward, not recline in hopes that your instant kharma will reward you with the same consideration. but Kharma is a fickle thing. You likely will end up with a seat in your upright lap and a free movie on your broken t.v.  Embrace your stewards/stewardesses. Not physically of course or you will quickly be on a one way charter to Gitmo, but rather figurativly. It’s a hard job and a smile, thank you and silent acknowledgment that they are single handedly making air hosting glamorous again goes a long way. Recent comparison had Jet Blue and Virgins staff in a first class all their own compared to the decidedly coach Je nu se pa and uniforms  of American and United. Once proud, these old american institutions now more resemble a greyhound bus, with worse food.   
And finally for the very brave, or medicated there is the window seat.

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