I had the worst flight of my life not long ago, coming back to L.A. after a ski trip with my family. I got into my seat, a window seat; so far, so good. I might get lucky and not have anyone sitting next to me.
Well, my luck changed when somebody put a red duffle bag in the seat next to me. I guess this was my guy. He sat down and I said, ‘Hello.’
An aside: I feel like I ought to say hello to the person sitting next to me, at least a hello. I mean, we’re going hundreds of miles per hour together on this journey, flying through the air, flying like a bird! Something mankind has dreamed of since the dawn of history. We might even die together. This is not just a bus ride.
Anyway, I said ‘hello,’ and he said, ‘hey.’
He was this trendy looking black guy, red sporty pants, lots of gold jewelry, bracelets. Then he said something I absolutely wasn’t expecting… ‘Hey, can I switch seats with you? I’ll give you a hundred dollars to switch.’
I was dumbfounded, and I looked at him quizzically. Then he said, ‘I have a neck problem.’
I thought for a long while. I liked my window seat. I like looking out the window. But, I wanted to be nice. ‘Okay, sure. You can have the seat for free. Don’t worry about it.’
He said thanks, and we switched.
The guy on the other side, ‘We ain’t got a bad one here.’
This is when I realized my new neighbor on the right had the build of a football player. And as I’m settling in, I’m slowly starting to realize the guy I just switched with was huge too, like a basketball player. I was stuck in the middle of two giants; shoulders poking in at both sides.
The guy on my right was a white guy, mid-fifties, balding. He started asking me about the United app, since this flight didn’t have TV monitors on the seats. He was asking how he could watch ESPN. I’m thinking like, ‘uh, dude, fifteen years ago we all watched one single movie on TVs that came out of the ceiling. Chill out.’
He continued, ‘So, uh, they say I need to download the United app?’
‘Uh-huh. Once it’s downloaded, you should be able to connect to the plane’s wifi and entertainment.’
‘Is it downloading? Am I connected?’
‘It looks like it’s going, yeah. Just gotta wait.’
Bad Neck Window Seat Guy was on the phone with someone the whole time before we took off, speaking in a cool, hushed tone. I heard snippets, like, ‘So, we gonna find a place in Santa Monica?’ And later, ’What do you mean by that? What do you mean by that comment?’ And then, ‘I gotta go. We’re taking off. I’m just gonna sleep.’
After we had been flying for a while, I felt a leg creep into my space, coming from my left. Window Seat was ‘manspreading’. His left leg was pretty much halfway into my area.
I tried to push back a little with my own leg. I mean, he’s gotta feel my leg, right? Unless he’s really asleep. But who can sleep on planes? Surely, he must feel me. I’m kind of pushing against him fairly hard, but he’s not budging.
‘I gotta do something,’ I thought. I looked over; yeah, he was asleep. I tapped his shoulder. He didn’t wake up after the first tap, so I kept tapping, for what seemed like forever. Like, ‘eeee, wake up.’ I’ve never felt so annoying.
He finally woke up and looked over lazily. ‘Excuse me, could you please give me some room,’ I motioned to his leg in my area.
‘I’m sorry,’ he said, and he moved his leg over. I breathed a sigh of relief.
By now, I could tell the guy in the aisle seat was getting really agitated with his device. And he started asking me more questions, because as a millennial, I have all the answers regarding technology.
‘Do you know how to get on the internet?’
‘Well, other than the entertainment center, I’m not sure there is internet. And if there is, you usually have to pay extra.’
‘Yeah, that’s how it usually goes.’
As the flight progressed, I can see he’s trying to check his email, and he’s just fuming and grumbling to himself.
At first I tried to read. I read a bit of Anna Karenina. Then, I pulled out the tray table, put my arms on it and kind of held it, in order to get my shoulders as far away from these two guys as possible. We were still touching, but not as much, maybe.
I took out my noise-cancelling headphones and tried listening to music. It was a playlist I have called ‘Beautiful Music,’ some soothing classical music, meant to take me away and out of this world.
But, to my despair, the guy on the window seat was awake now, and was listening to his own music. Through my noise-cancelling headphones, I could hear hear his trap music; could hear the annoying ‘ting ting’ of the high hat. I endured quite like this for the rest of the flight.
When we landed, Window Seat started watching dumb videos on his phone. He didn’t bother with headphones this time, so we all had the pleasure of listening to his videos along with him. I don’t know exactly what he was watching, but it sounded loud and obnoxious. ‘What am I doing in L.A.? Why did I even move here?’ were the questions I was asking myself.
When the seatbelt sign finally came off, and the aisle cleared, I bolted out of that seat and that plane as fast as I could. I didn’t look at or say goodbye to either of my travel buddies; I was just glad to be out of there.
Then, surprisingly, I got the best Lyft ride of my life.
His name was Norayr, and it was a regular Lyft ride; but, by chance, he pulled up in a black Lincoln Town Car. I had never been in a Lincoln Town Car before, and it was incredible. There was so much leg room, I could totally stretch out all the way. Seriously, it was cavernous; it was like Saint Peter’s Basilica in there.
A light rain fell outside, as the radio softly played Stairway to Heaven. He didn’t try to make conversation, which I appreciated. I just looked out at the raindrop spattered window, and watched all the lights and buildings go by, almost in a daze.
I got home, thanked him, and headed up to my apartment. I fell asleep almost immediately.