Monday, July 5, 2010

Plane-mate, Episode "Unemployed"


On my flight to Chicago a couple weeks ago I sat in my window seat hoping no one would fill the middle spot. As seems frequently the case, the more tardy said middle-seater is, the more colorful their personalities. [ibid.]

This time it was a woman in hand-torn black T-shirt, sweat pants and an anklet.
She smelled like a party three days ago in her ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend's back yard, if you catch my drift.

If you don't, try a bowl of salsa with a few stray corn nuts, cigarette butts, beer and vaseline. Put that bowl in the sun and come back a week later.

The woman was a talker. Talked the ear off the man sitting in the aisle seat. Conveniently chose to ignore me. Started calling everyone on her Favorites dialing list once it was announced we were going to be sitting on the tarmac for another hour because of weather delays. She complains loudly that she rushed to the plane for no good reason, not realizing we're actually in a closed cabin on the tarmac.

Flight attendant comes down the aisle asking people if they want to buy headsets.

Woman: How much are the headphones?
Attendant: Two dollars.
Woman: Oh, I thought they were five. Do we get to keep them?
Attendant: Yeah. (Notices she already has earphone) You know your earphones will work just fine.
Woman: I know, I just wanted to know how much they cost. I thought it was five. Two dollars for headsets though...
Attendant: We're all trying to make money where we can.
Woman: Yeah, but two dollars...

Ten minutes later the woman calls for an attendant.

Woman: Do you have a pen I can borrow during the flight? I'll give it back, I promise.

The attendant brings back a pen for her. The woman pulls out a huge folded stack of paper from her huger bag. A ziplock bag full of burnt CDs falls out, along with her CD-man. So ok, the punchline here is her ziplock bag of cds, but when was the last time you saw a CD-man?

The woman unfolds her documents: Laser color printouts of job listings from the internet. She starts reading down the list and circling what I presume are all the jobs she might take. Suffice it to say she circles almost every listing.

I start to feel enterprising. Want to tell her how to be more efficient about her situation. A.) Don't go to Kinko's and pay a buck a page to print out 40 color pages of job listings if you're unemployed. B.) Never not have a pen on you. Especially if you're looking for work.

I sleep instead of proselytizing. Keep waking up to the sound her talking to the other neighbor, who is fully immersed in the Mahut/Isner tennis match. He fails miserably at explaining to her the phenomenon that is taking place on TV: Tennis.

Woman: I don't get it. They only have to get seven points to win a match?
Man: No, each "point" is actually a game.
Woman: So they play seven games?
Man: No, they have to play till someone's up two games in the seventh set.
Woman: You know what, no offense but I don't get tennis so I'm going to watch something else.
Man: (Visibly unoffended.)

When I look back at her screen she's variously watching FoxNews and Friends. I reserve judgement and go back to sleep.

As the plane starts to make its final descent, I notice the woman is switching to listening to her CDs. She pulls one out of the ziplock bag to insert in her CD-man. Scribbled in Sharpie ink are the words:

Three Doors Down

I didn't realize anyone besides AMC theater patrons waiting for their movie to start ever listened to this band. Much less burnt their albums. I no longer reserve judgement; start thinking about how to tell this story.

When we land the woman immediately calls what sounds like her ride from the airport.

Woman: I don't know why they lied to us about the weather to delay us for so many hours. I mean it's all sunny here and shit...
Yeah, just pick me up outside...
What? You want me to pay for gas?...
That's not what we talked about last night!...
If I knew I had to buy your gas I woulda taken the train...
No...
No...
No!...
You know what just forget about it. I'll just have to figure it out with my credit cards. I won't be able to buy food or cigarettes the next couple of days but I'll pay for gas it's fine...
No, forget about it...
I'll buy the gas, forget about it...

I hope for her sake someone eventually explained how tennis works.



1 comment:

ryan said...

amazing! your good humor and reserve impresses me too. you have a knack for capturing the OH conversation :)

evan has taught me many things over the course of our best-friendship but I will always appreciate him for teaching me this too: "Never not have a pen on you."

It's like the golden key to everything, no hyperbole, there have been not less than 40 times that being strapped (writing utensilwise) saved my day.