Life in the Boomer Lane
By Renee Fisher
Life in the Boomer Lane has just returned from a visit to see her son in Charleston. She chose a 6:05 a.m. return flight, in order to get back in time to go to her painting class. When she scheduled the flight, she was focused entirely on enjoying the company of her son, her daughter-in-law and her baby granddaughter. She didn’t give much thought to the idiotic choice she had made in her return flight.
When she checked in online, she noted that the entire back half of the plane appeared empty. In a shrewd manoeuver, she changed her seat from Row 5 to Row 16, assuming that she would have the row to herself. She congratulated herself and turned her attention to other matters.
She assumed the flight would be without incident, unlike her flight from DC to Charleston, in which there was a brief verbal altercation between the young woman across the aisle from her and the large man seated directly behind the woman. LBL hasn’t yet been able to figure out why planes are populated exclusively by women, children, and unusually large men, but this one asked the women in front of him to please keep her seatback upright, as it was crushing his knees. She responded with “I’m not going to do that. I’m really pregnant, and I’m really sick.”
A brief observation by LBL confirmed both of these situations, neither of which LBL had noticed before. The extremely pregnant woman sat holding an extremely large box of tissues. LBL spent the flight imagining a variety of toxic viruses and bacteria leaping across the aisle to get to her, aided by superhuman hormones the pregnant woman was producing.
LBL looked forward to a stress-free return flight. She expected the airport would be empty, when she arrived at 5 a.m. Instead, she encountered lines at security that looked as though Charleston was being evacuated.
LBL, with enough hardware in her body to start her own personal industrial revolution, has been used to personal security pat downs. But last year, TSA instituted “enhanced pat down procedures” and, although LBL has taken several flights since then, she was in for a rare experience at Charleston. The TSA official assigned to her was a trainee. The trainee appeared to want to do a pat down that would please her trainer, as well as provide her a mention in the TSA Pat Down Hall of Fame.
LBL had body parts patted down that she didn’t think she owned. Hands entered her pants and felt around the waistband. Hands ran up her legs over the pants and didn’t stop when they entered the crotch area. After every inch of her body was inspected, her hands were swiped and run through a scanner. At that point she was deemed not to be a national security risk.
Boarding was quick (Alert readers will remember that this was a half-full flight). LBL took her seat and anticipated being able to stretch her legs into the empty seat next to her. Instead, a large man approached and indicated that he had the window seat. When seated, he did what large men do: He appropriated the middle arm rest, put his head back, and fell asleep.
LBL suspected that she and her seatmate were the only non-paired people on the plane to be sharing a row. A scan of the plane proved her assessment to be correct. And a look back showed that almost all of the seats were indeed empty.
LBL considered this for a minute. This large man, when choosing his seat, selected a row in which one of the seats was already selected by someone, rather than selecting a seat in an empty row. She had to restrain herself from waking him up and asking him exactly why he did this.
Instead, she gathered her things together and chose one of the many entirely empty rows behind her to sit on. She was left with room to spare in which to eagerly await her tiny allotted bag of Cheetos.
She arrived at National Airport in DC, with hours to spare before her painting class. She made a mental note never to schedule such an early morning flight and never to choose her seat until the last possible moment. But she suspects that large men will be waiting at their laptops, to see what she does, before choosing their own.