Air travel offers unexpected pleasures

Joseph Wood

I miss flying. Being from Seattle, I always drive to Walla Walla, and so my time in the sky has been severely diminished. I can’t help but feel nostalgic for an airplane ride.

Once you get past security, the stern-faced TSA agents who valiantly protect our country from tooth paste and baby bottles over three ounces by frisking babies, life is actually pretty good. You can sharpen the knife you snuck past security as you watch CNN on the overhead TVs with the anchors who are either discussing the racist/sexist Twitter post from (insert movie or sports star here) or the latest teen craze of drinking paint thinners for a buzz. There is also the chance to experience the culinary feats of the cities hottest chefs. I highly recommend the clam chowder in a bread bowl if you like the feeling of having an intestinal exorcism halfway through the flight.

Talk about a gamble. Flying is a high-stakes, high-rewards game as you never know who you are going to sit next to. You might end up sitting next to a paranoid young lobbyist named Augie Michealstine who insists that GOP is trying to kill him or perhaps you’re next to a amateur hockey player whose teeth keep falling out as he proudly tells you how he put a Canadian in the hospital last week with two collapsed lungs after he checked him. Either way, you’re going to hear a good story.

Now that you’ve committed to your seat, there is no turning back. The smiling flight attendant who pretended to care that there was a severed finger in the seat pocket in front of you brings you some peanuts and a ginger ale. Also, on an important note, who decided that serving peanuts on a plane is appropriate? In elementary school, we weren’t allowed to eat any products because contact with even the smallest amount of peanuts could kill kids. But on an airplane 3,500 feet off the ground in a closed death trap cabin where everyone breathes the same air, peanuts are fair game. You can’t help but shed a tear for the little red-headed boy who has to stab himself in the leg with an EpiPen every 15 minutes and eat Benadryl by the handful to keep himself from going into shock. We live in a sick world.

The best part of any flight is the end where you stand up and look each other in the eyes. These are your people. Y’all have survived the screaming baby, the old guy whose breathing sounded like a cat rasping for air and the poor little red-headed boy whose face has blown up like a balloon from the peanuts. Through thick and thin these people have been with you, yet you will never be with them again except for the hockey player whose tooth you find your bag a few days later. You walk away from a plane flight feeling alive but spiritually drained. You have just experienced humanity on Southwest Airline’s flight 335 from Seattle to Los Angeles.


Joseph Wood is a pseudonym.