Wednesday, December 09, 2009

111,646 Miles

I am home after a few months of scary motel rooms, Hog farms, giant conference and tiny parishes.  At last check my air miles for this year added up to 111,646.  Not bad for a girl from Vista.  Still not enough apparently to be upgraded on one of that longest flights of my life.  For some reason the Newark to San Diego flight can never be tamed with all the Benydryl, in flight movie or pretzels in the world.  After sinking into my 7F seat and an hour into the flight I began to accept the fact that I was not going to get bumped this time.  So I settled into my personal space in my row next to the very tall man in the middle seat and next to him an airline employee that I figured is an insomniac and can only soothe himself by riding airplanes at night for free.  I started out by reading the book "Up in the Air" on my kindle.  I'm trying to hurry this one up because it's a George Clooney movie that is coming out soon and I can't see it with only reading half because I wouldn't finish it after seeing the movie, I just know me.  But after reading a few more chapters I get mad because the character gets bumped to first class all the time whilst I sit in 7F.  7F is like second place for a frequent flier.  I know those people in rows 1 through 6, they are no better than the person in row 35 seat A.  Certainly no better than 7F.  I know the look they give me as I walk past them because I gave it on my last flight to the second place losers who did the walk of shame past the blue curtain and into second class citizenship which is coach.  If you are sitting in coach and want a blanket the attendant (who does not like to be called a waitress) will explain to you that since the swine flu has become such a problem blankets are now a health concern because of germs, sorry.  What they forget to say is that if they washed their blankets more than once a month it wouldn't be a problem but washing blankets is expensive and the dollar we charge you for your headphones to the direct TV that is installed but not working doesn't cover the cost of you snuggling up to your paper thin diseased ridden blanket.
If you are sitting in first class and ask for a blanket the waitress will excuse themselves, go to a special closet where silk worms are kept specifically to make your blanket and unveil a brand new blanket that is shrink wrapped and under lock and key.  And if a passenger from coach even looks at your blanket before you get it, the blanket is promptly burned and you are given a new one.
Back to 7F.  I fell asleep but awoke just in time to see the jolly green giant next to me spilling his water in my lap.  So refreshing!  I then saw a cute scene, the flight man attendant (is that proper terminology?) was walking backwards as he assisted a grandma into the bathroom.  He was very patient and made sure he was inside and and then he shut the door and left.  He went to get the drink cart and started delivering drinks while grandma Moses just hung out in the John.  I thought for sure he would have the lady stewardess take over for a while as he went to go rescue grandma from the John but he never did!  Finally I rang my call button and he shot a "coach look" at me which says, I don't get paid enough to help you if you are choking but you could be Sandra Bullock and are accidentally flying in  coach so I'll come help you this once but it better be good.  I looked at him and said, "You left the grandma in the bathroom!"  He rolled his eyes and went to the bathroom and put his ear against the door (which is way grosser than using a coach blanket) and threw his hands up in the air.  I guess she wasn't ready to come out since he heard no signs of life.  He walked by 7F making sure not to make eye contact and went back to serving drinks.  All I could think of was the sad grandma being too short and weak to open the door and sitting back down or worse yet being thrown back onto the toilet during turbulence and accidentally hitting the flush button and being sucked out over one of the middle states.  Trapped in the window seat I did the only thing a good Catholic girl could do and asked Jesus to help the grandma out.  I said she could borrow my angel for awhile if she needed.  As soon as I did that he went back and like a fireman rescuing someone trapped in a burning building opened the door and helped her out.  I was so glad she was standing when he found her and not stuck halfway in between the plane and over a cornfield. I fell back asleep knowing that the grandma was OK and if all went right she would make it to San Diego to see her family or her Marine recruiter.

Then a very strange thing happened, I was startled awake by turbulence but more than that a smell.  I had smelled that scent before.  Let's just say 7F is a row back from the middle lavatory and maybe after 3 hours into this flight and 5 other flights today it had finally revolted and was done.  Every time the door would open people in the first few rows of coach would put their heads further down into their pillows, sweatshirts or if he smelled OK, their neighbors arm.  Like a seasoned detective going into a crime scene I reached for my childhood friend, my 3 oz container of Vicks.  I slabbed some into my nose and for awhile I escaped "the smell".  But after awhile it just smelled like a mixture of Vicks and "the smell".  With a time check I saw the I only had 3 more hours left in the flight.  No problem, I will use this time as a kind of redemptive suffering.  What would Mother Teresa do in a situation like this?  She rescued people from the slums and no doubt it smelled much worse than this.  I can do this, I can...not do this!  I'm going to explode, I am not Mother Teresa, I will never move to India, I need fresh air, I need to breathe, I hate flying, I hate coach, I should be up there in first class, I have enough miles, who do these people think they are sitting in MY SEAT?
And then I remembered or rather my exhausted Guardian Angel reminded me, I had loaded a full season of Golden Girls on my ipod before I had left.  I calmly shoved more Vicks up my nose assumed as much as a fetal position as I could in my 7F home and watched 2 hours and 45 minutes of Blanche, Sophia, Rose and Dorothy until we prepared the cabin for landing.  Upon touch down in San Diego I made a promise to myself.  "I am not flying again until 2010 and when 2010 comes and it's time to fly again, I will not fly without nose plugs, my Snuggie, Horse tranquilizers and depends!"