If I’m going through security and there’s, let’s say, a fellow in front of me covered in tatoos, with KORN etched on his neck, and lobe stretching earrings in his ears, and at least 25 safety pins neatly affixed to his eyebrows, I know immediately: He is on my plane and he is sitting next to me. I’m just good like that.
Today’s trip to ORD was no different. Well, actually a lot was different about the trip because I was flying American – a “benefit” I am now graced with since the USAir/American merger. I was pretty tense going into it because the website wouldn’t let me print my boarding pass last night. While it acknowledged that I had all the correct information filled out, it said I’d have to go to the airport and talk to an agent. I don’t like talking to agents.
Plus, I was concerned about the flooding and figured I’d get a long delay, and I realized the plane wasn’t very big either – but was it big enough to fight flooding?
Anyhow, I show up at Terminal A (a terminal I only see for interrnational flights and an occasional jaunt to Florida), talk to the agent (who barks at me to go to a kiosk), get my pass, fly through TSA-precheck and make my way to the A9 (yes, after procuring required h20, pretzels, and a power bar.)
I’m mellow, I’m in no hurry, I have an exit row, I have a good book. I start remembering all the benefits of small planes (no one is jockeying for line up). And then I decide to take a look around at the crowd on my flight.
I spot him right away. My seatmate.
He’s about 58, jean clad, unkempt hair, and most noticably, he is on all fours with his head down. At first I think he’s praying, but I rule that out when I notice he’s not facing Mecca and there is no rug. Sure enough, my hypothesis is confirmed when he rotates himself onto his back, completely prone, and sticks one of his legs up in the air and onto the ledge of the wall at a full 45 degree angle. Are you kidding me?
I’m wondering if there is a new series of Airport Sporting Events that I haven’t heard about and he’s merely warming up. But then I look around and I notice a family not far from this guy and I’m feeling really protective at this point. That mom shouldn’t have to explain this to her two year old!!!
I decide to talk to a rather well dressed (and well tanned) man next to me who, it turns out, works at a firm I know well. He has also noticed Mr. Leg Extension and I say to him: “He will be sitting next to me.”
We board the plane and sure enough, guess who is across the aisle from me – no surprise there. And no surprise that he immediately removes his shoes so that I have the pleasure of looking at his wooly, worn, and somewhat tattered socks.
Incidentally, turns out there are some benefits to flying American into Chicago – like a whole beautiful terminal I never knew existed, Terminal 3. US Air flies into Terminal 2 (I used to go to Chicago probably twice a month when I worked for a firm based there.) Terminal 2’s finest restaurant is McDonald’s or some sports bar that is too crowded to get into. Terminal 3 had “Farmers’ Market stands,” a Cubs dugout bar, a little mall area, cronut stands; I almost didn’t want to leave.