There is no doubt in my mind that the services airlines provide are declining. The seats are cramped. Nine out of ten times, the flights are delayed. You have to pay to check a bag. Sometimes, snacks are no longer free...it's heartbreaking.
However, until this weekend, I was not aware of the fact that the passengers on airplanes are also getting stranger.
As I waited to go to the bathroom on my flight to Boston, a woman emerged from the stall. She was wearing very dark, large sunglasses. I looked around the flight to see if maybe it was brighter than I realized, however, she was definitely the only one wearing shades on the plane. Only seconds later, a man emerged wearing even larger headphones. They were similar to the ones musicians wear in the recording studio. I thought the two made quite the unnecessarily accessorized bathroom team.
A few short minutes later, when I emerged from the restroom, I noticed another interesting character. He was a small man (I like to call him Roger in my head. He looked like a Roger) sitting Indian style on the very edge of his seat...meditating. He was meditating right there on Delta 710.
I admit, I thought these three incidents were a little strange. However, the final straw came on my return flight Sunday morning.
It's been said that the most effective time to fall asleep on a plane is during take off because of decreased oxygen levels and an increased G-force (I couldn't make that up). So, being the failure of a napper that I am, I entered my return flight determined to fall asleep. Before the plane even started moving, I closed my eyes and put my head back on the seat. I thought if I was fully-relaxed before take off even commenced, maybe just maybe, I would be successful.
As I sat there, trying to calm my mind, the boy to my left started talking to me. He said, "Take off scares me too." So I opened my eyes and smiled and told him that I was hoping I could fall asleep, but yes, I agree, take off is scary.
After the plane took off and we'd reached the ideal level of elevation, I was still in the same position, thinking about the fact that I was a total plane-sleeping-failure. All of the sudden, my seat reclined. I opened my eyes to discover that the scaredy-cat next to me had reached over my lap to try and help me get my snooze on...he'd put my seat back for me.
He was sitting there, smiling, proud of his kind gesture. So, naturally, all I could do was thank him for the help. Of course, this only led to an extensive conversation about his home town (Dubai), what he was doing in Boston (he just completed his freshman year), where he was going (Irvine, CA), why he was going there (he was transferring schools because he had gotten very low grades this year. very low) and what he was hoping to do with his life (start a business similar to his parents, because his family is very very wealthy, though he is not spoiled...).
Needless to say, I did not take a nap (surprise surprise).
I can only imagine what would have happened if my chatty, but helpful, friend had gotten seated next to Roger the meditator. He probably would have mistaken Roger's closed eyes for a nap-attempt, and out of the kindness of his heart, reclined his seat and started chatting away.
Roger's focus would have been completely broken, and he'd have to ask Mr. Big Headphones from the bathroom to borrow them in order to drown out the stories from the neighboring chatterbox. Maybe the crazy sunglasses lady would have offered up her shades to Roger, just so he could maximize his meditation. It would be such an unlikely and beautiful turn of events: they'd all join together like the crazy little passengers they are. You can't blame them, really. In these rough times that airlines are offering us, we passengers have got to stick together.