Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Communication Breakdown

You know how people complain that technology is destroying communication, that whenever you go into a public place you don’t see people talking to each other, you just see people tapping away on their phones or plugged into their iPods or the like?

Those complainers forget how awful it is to be trapped next to some moron who assaults you with communication and feels no compunction about sharing all the details of his personal life, whether you asked for them or not.

Like the idiot in line with me on my way to NY last weekend. I was flying Southwest and had committed the ultimate sin: I didn’t check in at the first possible second I could so I got C boarding.

Suckage major.

But I got in line and this guy next to me immediately announced angrily, “This is perfect. We're probably going to be stuck with an aisle seat!"

Which was odd because "we" weren't sharing a seat plus I doubted there'd be anything but middle seats left and I was just hoping to get a spot between 2 people of reasonable size and regular bathing habits.

But I didn't say that, because he was already full into a rant about 9-11.

“I just hate to fly since 9-11. All the security and crap.  It’s ridiculous. And it’s not going to help. It makes me nervous just thinking about everything that could happen.”

I should mention that I am a skittish passenger at the best of times. The last thing I need is some other paranoid freak show getting me amped up before a flight.

“You know what I mean?” He said. “Anyone could take a plane down—“

“I'm going to need you to stop talking,” I told him.

At least that’s what I thought I said, apparently what he heard was “While your current subject matter is making me ever so slightly uncomfortable, please don’t pass up this opportunity to hit on me as I find your particular brand of crazy oddly appealing.”

“You know,” he said, leaning closer. “I don’t mind flying when I’m in control. I used to be a pilot in the Navy. But these commercial flights are so, so…” he shook his head, briefly at a loss for words.  Sadly, the silence didn’t last. “We should just drive.” He said a few seconds later.

“I’m good,” I assured him and scurried onto the plane as fast as I could.  And I was so focused on getting away from this freak show idiot that I didn’t even go through my whole obsessive-compulsive pre-flight rituals.

He sat right behind me.

Actually, that’s not completely true. He was supposed to sit on the middle seat behind me. But he made a big fuss about needing to sit by the window, had to sit by the window, wouldn't the woman in the window seat be a decent sort and sit in the middle seat so he could have the window seat?!

And she did!

That woman is waaasyyyy nicer than I am.

She didn't even punch him in the face when he spent the next forty minutes sharing with her, me, and basically the whole front half of the plane the excruciating details of his itinerary, the problems he had encountered on the way to the airport, why his wife doesn’t understand him, his favorite television shows, his contempt for the TSA’s screening procedures and of course, how much better the flight would be if he were in control of it.

And the irony is, if I had given in to my impulses and shrieked "Stop talking! Stop talking RIGHT NOW OR ILL KILL YOU!" like I wanted to, I would probably be the one in jail for disrupting the flight.

But it was awful…almost as bad as the drunk guy I sat next to when we flew to Florida for Thanksgiving last year. That’s a story for another time but seriously, I could write a book based on my fellow passengers alone.

The point is, if this interaction is the kind of communication that technology has replaced, bring on the tech!


  1. I loved this. And please tell the Thanksgiving story. And consider listening to music to help drown out yacking people where ever you are. It also deters people from starting up conversations with you. Or an audio book. I love those, keeps your brain occupied on the story and not on the plane crashing.

  2. I do the audio book thing--love those for walking and getting stuff done around the house as much as for traveling. Thanksgiving flight story coming soon!