Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Airplanes - The modern day torture device

There's a reason why this blog is called ""...and it has nothing to do with the speech formations of a Californian "valley girl".
For all the wonderful horizon broadening, frame of reference stretching (and bank account shrinking) effects that travel has in my life; there's one part about it that I don't quite love so much... Travelling.

The actual "getting there" part is just sucky! People say "it's not the destination, it's about the journey" (and I want to agree with them), but these people obviously don't suffer from motion sickness! As a baby I threw up on my mother EVERY TIME we got in the car; being young and uneducated in the ways of babies she thought this was normal. Poor young fool. (This was in the days when adults felt it was okay for children to be transported in moving vehicles without being strapped into a car seat.)  It hasn't gotten any better with age... the motion sickness, my mother has gotten wise and not much older-looking. (I hope you're reading this Mom.)

Airplanes are the absolute worst! And not just because I feel whoozy the entire time, although it just adds to my level of irritation. You'd think with the technological advancements we've made over the last 100 years someone would have figured out teleportation by now! But no, I'm left to swollow down chunks while they fund people to skydive from space. (Which is ridiculously cool and stupid by the way!)

But it's not just the motion sickness that makes flying incredibly uncomfortable to the brink of torture...

Babies. Babies on a plane. I feel sorry for the tiny humans when I feel this horrible and irritated, sardined into a stuffy cabin with a bunch of smelly grown-ups, I feel like crying too! But I don't have to, because I can express my disdain quite adequately with crass words and a series of grunts or the occasional sigh. This doesn't mean I haven't resorted to crying...

Point is; flying is uncomfortable for everyone, the miniature people  and their angst ridden parents included, so I say live and let live. On the other hand; children who are unruly and old enough to know better, with parents who idly sit by and do nothing to entertain or at the very least attempt to control their child, are rightfully frowned at and deserve every judging stare or unwanted piece of "advice" from fellow travellers.

Which brings me to smelly grown-ups. The aroma of sweaty travellers fill the cabin eventually, but there are the few exceptions whose odour seeps into my inner being to assault my already fragile stomach and shatter my spirit. People with offensive body odour should not be allowed in the confinements of an aircraft! Period. Put them on a no fly list for terrorism, or in the baggage compartment if you absolutely must.

Unfortunate toilet situation. If you didn't make it to the toilet by hour two of the flight you're too late... what awaits you is a vile pit of despair soaked in urine that make your feet stick to the ground. Because of the aforementioned motion sickness, I tend to drink  a lot of coke* in an effort to trick my body into thinking I'm not in fact nauseous; so a visit to the loo is inevitable on a 12 hour flight... While I'm in there trying very hard to touch the general area with the soles of my shoes only, and bush-peeing like a pro; I pray that the "mile high club" is a myth! Please, LET IT BE A MYTH!

* coca-cola being the answer to every medical problem of course! According to my mother-in-law it helps for headache, nausea, stomach ache, high blood pressure... anything!

Ahh! Sweet nectar of delusion. But it really helps for nausea, and this particular can saved my life!
You're trapped! In a moving tin can filled to the brim with strangers who are mostly inconsiderate, smelly or sick. Worse is the fact that for the next eight to 13 hours you have only the confinements of your seat area to inhabit. This never seemed to bother me until a sadistic cabin crew allowed us mere economy passengers to walk through the business and first class sections on disembarkation. Hopefully you don't have to arm wrestle your hairy neighbour for your share of the armrest, but if you take into account the chair to armrest ratio, that's a big portion of your space he's occupying; and like the Israel/Palestine situation, I won't stand for that type of crap! Rocket fire to follow!
 There's always the risk of the person in front who manage to slush your drink over your legs while reclining to take a nap on your lap. This would never happen if I could stretch out in my own private pod in first class... I should start contemplating the validity of making more money.

Airplane food. Almost as terrifying as hospital food, just packaged better. The smell alone is to die for... so please, JUST LET ME DIE ALREADY! Other's don't seem to mind so maybe it's just my inability to eat cat shit, but when it's munch time on the plane my stomach start to churn. During a (rather loud) discussion with friends, I was pleased to learn that this so-called "food" has a lasting reign of terror on everyone's digestive system. It's not just me! While getting a foot massage in a Thai night market we discovered that half of us get a serious case of "runny tummy", while the other half's tummies come to a complete standstill after ingesting a minimal amount of airplane food. Having an upset stomach on holiday is obviously not ideal, and buying the right medication in a non-English speaking country can be a real challenge. As was established, save yourself and the crowd of fellow tourist-in-need the time; and loudly explain to the confused pharmacist: "NO POO FOR LONG TIME!!" This is apparently understood.

Once on the ground, and sufficient queuing to exit the torture chamber has incurred... the nightmare is still not over. Since I fly from the southern tip of Africa it's a long flight no matter where we go, so normally we arrive on the red eye. This leaves you roaming the streets like the undead until you can check into your hotel at at a much later time. Sleep deprived, sticky, hungry, constipated and feeling like an old Chinese man  poohed in your mouth, you end up site seeing and taking pictures in such a state... the evidence of your torture captured forever. The injustice.

In a few days I leave for Dubai, after sufficiently recovering from the aftermath of flying, I plan on scouring the old souks for a magic carpet. Aladdin style... I pray it's real. Please, LET IT BE REAL!

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