Anyone who knows me (or has read some earlier posts in this blog) knows I loathe flying. I don’t like anything about it–taking off and wondering if the plane will hold together, the creepy little booooong noise the flight staff sounds for their own inscrutable purposes, the violent shaking coming into or out of Seattle cloud layers, the landing–I hate it all. Hate, hate, hate.
Headed home to Seattle from my Los Angeles trip had its own special fun this time. I was seated next to a woman who looked like quite a hoarder. She’d brought a paper bag full of used Starbucks cups, dirty tissue and what appeared to be her junk mail along as a carry-on. Nice. I amused myself wondering what her house must look like, then went back to my reading. Things quickly degenerated after takeoff, when she pulled out a Glen Beck book. When she got tired of reading what the cover heralded as “Common Sense,” she stowed it on my left leg.
Next out of the strange trash sack came the unambiguously-titled “Stop Obama Petition,” which also ended up in my lap after she had checked YES next to the question that asked her whether she thought Obama was a communist intent on destroying her God-given freedoms. Finally, after she was apparently nice and fired-up about liberals, she pulled out her King County election ballot, and started voting-by-plane. When she hunched over to dig a bit more in her junk sack, I tried to covertly push her propaganda off of my leg and onto the floor, but, as I have no luck, she popped right back up with a half-empty bottle of tepid Bombay Sapphire (thanks for catching that one, TSA).
She waved the flight attendant over, asking whether the gin might be good in a Snapple. He gave me a look that said “I really hope this isn’t your mother,” and I tried to reassure him in pantomime that she didn’t belong to me. For the next two hours, he was serving her plastic cups of tonic water (luckily he dissuaded her from ginning up her coffee) which she sloshed back with remarkable speed, her voting pen getting a little unwieldy in her hand. Clearly, she didn’t heed the warning about “stray marks” on the ballot.
When we were finally on the ground and she had voted for every conservative on offer, writing them in where they weren’t adequately represented, she sprang up to make certain she got her bags from the overhead compartment before anyone else had a shot. Before I could warn the mother sitting in front of me, Old Gin-n-Juice had punched her elbow into the face of a two-month-old baby. Luckily, the kid was resilient, only fussing a little after having been part of an inadvertent bar fight with a God-fearing conservative.
While I didn’t really enjoy sitting next to it, I do love it when life offers up its own little morality play. You just can’t write this kind of person in fiction–it’d be too absurd. Too perfectly awful. I have to give it up to the universe this time for its own creative nonfiction/ cautionary tale.