I'm Just Saying…

April 5, 2012

Why I Don’t Like To Travel

Some people travel well. They deplane looking fresh and energetic. Some people; I am not one of those people. I don’t travel well. I never travelled well. I thought the reason was all the necessities I brought with me (yes, that is a kitchen sink in my carry-on, what’s it to ya?) Now that I’ve discovered the joys of germophobia, traveling with anything less than a gallon of hand sanitizer has me chastising myself for leaving the disposable gloves at home. I thought these might be the reasons, but alas, they are not. The reason I don’t travel well is because there are other people on the plane. It’s the people that are the problem. In short, I am the Garbo of the friendly skies. I want to be alone.

The trip in question was an international flight from JFK to Heathrow…

Let’s call my seatmate…Larry. I suspect Larry boarded the plan loaded, but just in case he wasn’t sloshed enough, he got right to work once we were airborne. Liquor loosened Larry’s tongue, making him loquacious and friendly, causing him to cozy up to me and slobber his pearls of wisdom along with his halitosis and bacterium. I noticed Larry continued to babble whether I answered him or not. Being trapped like a lab rat restricted me to recoiling and responding with either unintelligible guttural grunts or gnashing of teeth. I began to notice people in the surrounding seats craning their necks, giving us the condemning half-turn. Don’t judge me, I thought. I’m not with Larry the loathsome lush. I’m stuck waiting for my peanuts like it’s the last supper like everybody else. Keep your dirty looks to yourself, please.

Finally, dinner arrived. Ah, the ambiance of the compartmentalized plastic tray; a dry wedge of processed chicken, lukewarm reconstituted potato flakes and shriveled peas. And in Larry’s case: more alcohol. He ate his chicken and drank. He ate his shriveled peas and drank. He ate his brownie cube and drank. I shoveled my food in, reveling in the brief respite while Larry’s mouth was full.

I was stuffing in my brownie cube when I glanced up at the TV screen to find a video camera hanging over my tray. I didn’t realize Scorsese flew coach. Who knew?

“Well Margaret, you can see I’m having a lovely dinner here on my flight and I’m on my way back to you now.”

I stared at him and then at my fork. I decided I couldn’t do enough damage with that puny piece of plastic. Silently, I admitted defeat.

“Can you help me here?” Larry mumbled, thrusting the camera in my general direction.

Of course Larry, I would love to be your aero video slave. I must say I shot some lovely footage of Larry attempting to butter his bread, spilling his vino onto his lap and alternately cursing and mopping up, although I think the lighting could have been better. After a few takes, it was a wrap. Well not quite.

 “Are you going to eat your veggies?” he slurred.

 No, I plan on stuffing them into my ears to drown out the sound of your voice.

 “When the stewardeth  passes, tell her you’re still hungry. They got extra in the back.”

Do they also have pepper spray? And where the hell is the Air Marshal when you really need him?

The stewardess walked by. “Everything okay here?” she asked with a smirk.

That was not nice.

 “Do you have any more?” Larry said, “She’s thtill hungry.”

She is?  I gave the stewardess a plaintive look, trying to communicate telepathically using my Vulcan mind meld. I don’t want anymore, what I want is to open the emergency door and jump, using my seat cushion as a flotation device. Can you help a girl out here?

The stewardess paid me no mind. But she did bring more food. Larry, clever man that he is, waited until she strolled away to lean in and scoop the food from my plate.

“I love to fly, don’t you?” he asked, belching into my personal space. “I’ve made some wonnerful friends that I’ve had for years.”

Only in the Magical Mystery Tour of your mind, boy-o.

 It was then the captain turned the lights down low to induce that comfy, intimate, bedtime atmosphere. Sleeping on a plane is a joy to begin with, the back ache, the neck crick, waking up wondering if your mouth was hanging open, not to mention the accompanying drool; good times. But I didn’t have to worry about sleeping, I had Larry. Larry was up every thirty minutes, climbing over me to stumble to the lavatory. I lamented not having a blow-up doll to put in Larry’s place. Perhaps in his alcoholic haze, he would spend the night searching the plane for his seat. Alas, Larry found his way back.

During a bout of fitful sleep, I had a dream that Larry melted into a vapor puddle leaving only the piquant redolence of BO and Johnny Walker, but it proved only a hopeless, desperate fantasy. He remained faithfully at my side until the wheels touched down at Heathrow.

The bell chimed, the fasten-your-seat-belt sign turned off, and my buddy Larry lunged from his seat. Throwing his arm out like a Dick Butkis charging fullback, he shoved me out of the way to rush up the aisle for the opponent’s end zone.

“Can you believe that man?” I heard from the seat behind me.

Turning, I found a sweet faced, middle-aged woman standing next to her husband, a sweet faced middle-aged man. Sure, now everyone is ready to give me tea and sympathy. Save it sister, you’re a day late and a plastic dinner tray short.

I deplaned, hair matted and lifeless, skin pale and parched, clothes rumpled. I don’t travel well and I realized that now my miserable traveling experiences were no longer limited to the United States, I was going intercontinental.

But it was not over. I was taking something else with me, a gift from Larry. At that moment, relieved to be free, I couldn’t know that I was an unwilling incubator full of Larry’s foul microbes. Approximately eight hours after arriving, the lasting effects of Larry would be upon me. I would have my first experience getting sick as a dog in a foreign country.

As I said, I don’t travel well.

Larry, let it be on your head.

                                                                        To Be Continued…

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3 Comments »

  1. Although I never had the great joy of meeting Larry, I so identify with your article because I don’t travel well either. I got sick in every foreign country I visited. To me, there’s no place like home! I like my routines and my comforts, and I have enough interests and activities to live a very satisfying life. To each his own, and happy trails to those that DO love to travel!

    Comment by Bibiana — December 11, 2012 @ 11:37 pm | Reply

  2. I just stumbled across this wonderful post while surfing aimlessly through cyberspace (the only traveling that I ever really enjoy!)

    What a wonderfully amusing and extremely resonant piece of writing. I have given up trying to think up excuses for why yet again this year, ‘no, I’m not going anywhere for my holidays’ and ‘no, I don’t particularly want to trek through the Amazon jungle. No, thank you’. Instead I just say ‘I don’t like traveling’ which seems to induce a whole variety of responses ranging from pity to total disbelief.

    It must have been so much easier before the advent of cheap air travel and even better, before that the mass production of cars. There was no need to apologise for not crossing the Atlantic or trekking across all the European nations. If anything you’d be thought of as either insanely rich or just insane to think about doing such a thing.

    Now the tables are turned and those of us who are quite content with our place in life and can find more than adequate satisfaction and pleasure in what we have, are regarded as weird.

    So let’s hear it for staying put!! At least we can be smug in the knowledge of how wonderful we are for the environment….

    Comment by charlie brown — February 20, 2013 @ 10:21 am | Reply

  3. Hi Charlie – Thanks so much for your comments. I’m glad you enjoyed the post! What you say is so true. I’m with you for staying put! 🙂

    Comment by jillamyrosenblatt — February 20, 2013 @ 6:06 pm | Reply


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