Friday, November 18, 2011

Confessions Of A Road Warrior - Tia

If you've read this blog for any amount of time you know that I travel A LOT. I have something close to half a million Hilton points and a various assortment of miles scattered across several airlines. I'm basically the female version of George Clooney from Up In The Air. 

Up in the Air  |  George Clooney  |  Jason Reitman  |  Vera Farmiga   | Movie Trailer | Review

It makes for a lonely existence at times but I get over it and move on. People often glamorize flying and traveling. At least once a week I hear, "It must be so fun to travel all of the time." I've stopped laughing in people's faces with they say this and simply smile, nod and change the subject (or walk away.) Don't get me wrong, traveling IS fun....when you're going someplace exciting and doing something you love. When you're going to Des Moines to count pills, "fun" is not quite the right word to describe traveling. 

Thanks to the 9/11 terrorists, the shoe bomber dude and smatterings of other nefarious individuals up to no good, flying is not what it used to be. As one who does it a lot, I've pretty much figured out the ropes and can make it as pain free as possible. (That thing George Clooney said about the Asians is TOTALLY true.) But there are times and situations that I can't control. And since I can't control them, I choose to blog about them. It's kind of a passive-aggressive therapy if you will.

I was recently informed that my travel percentage will be increasing in 2012. (Joy...sarcasm) So I'm certain I will need the catharsis of writing a lot more. That being said, I present to you the first of what is sure to be many posts from this weary road warrior.

I'd like to call this one...She Wouldn't SHUT UP!!!

I sleep on planes. There's something about the white noise of the engines and the filtered air (gross, I know) that rocks me right to sleep. Usually I'm asleep well before we take off. I've long since stopped listening to the safety announcements. Depending on the model and make of the plane I can tell you where the exits are, if there is a seat cushion flotation device and/or a life jacket. I can tell you which side of the plane has more oxygen masks (sometimes there are additional masks on certain sides of the plane for people with lap children.) And I can tell you how much the emergency exit door over the wing weighs. Basically I can recite the safety instructions in my sleep. As such, I've long since stopped listening to the flight attendants and started taking naps the minute the person next to me is situated and I know no one else is getting in the row.

Unless I have some pressing deadline, sleeping on the plane is my #1 goal. Yesterday was no different. I had a connection from Pittsburgh to DC and from DC to Nashville. The plan was to sleep on the first leg and work on the second. Some for me. Some for the job. Unfortunately, loud chatty Cathy would not SHUT UP on the Pitt-DC flight.

Toya and I talk about people who have a high frequency to their voices. They're the people who talk a lot with a high, shrill pitch to their tone. Flight Attendant Cathy was the QUEEN of the high frequency talkers. Cathy was based out of Philadelphia. Cathy is not married. Cathy's brother's dog was just sick and she had to pick up the dog from the Amish vet and "SCRUB the dog twice when I got her back because she was so filthy." How do I know all of this about Cathy? Because Cathy is loud and doesn't know how to be quiet.

I heard Cathy before I saw her. As we were waiting to board, she was sitting across the seriously...ACROSS THE ROOM and I heard her talking the ear off of another USAirways employee. Both appeared to be flight attendants flying off to other locations as passengers. My hope upon hearing this loud shrill woman was that she would be no where near me on this Canadair Regional Jet. They are small and cramped as it is and a HF talker is not what I needed in order to commence afternoon nap #1. That being said, OF COURSE Cathy was in the row behind me. But as she was across the aisle I was not immediately concerned. I figured since my seat was not directly in front of her I would be able to drown her our with music and plane noise. Apparently Cathy's decibel is louder than that OF A PLANE.

As we were taxiing (normally the time I'm already asleep) the realization (and horror) that Cathy's voice might inundate its way into my nap began to set in. While I could not hear the woman behind me to which Cathy was speaking, I could hear Cathy in excruciating detail. To put things into perspective, I once woke up to a passenger staring at me in awe. She asked, "How can you sleep through all of that?" I asked her what "all of that" was to which she replied, "The extreme turbulance that caused several grown men to gasp in horror and caused THREE babies to basically scream for their lives!" I looked at her, gave her the Kayne shrug and replied, "I was tired." I SLEEP ON PLANES!! Period. But thanks to Cathy "my voice is louder and more shrill than THREE babies and the cries of scared grown men" my plane nap was in jeopardy.

How DARE she intrude into my sanctuary of napping with mundane stories of Amish practitioners of veterinary medicine and what she DVRed last night. I had a schedule to keep. And that schedule included sleep. I was DETERMINED to drown out this woman's voice. Her voice was not going to beat me.

The row I was in was empty so I moved from my aisle seat to the window seat which happened to be right next to the engine. As anyone who has ever used knows, window seats by the engine are usually put in the cautionary category due to noise. PERFECT. Surely, the engine noise would drown out this woman's voice...SURELY. I leaned against the wall, closed my eyes and prepared to fall into a delicious plane nap.

"So then the dog ran off into the Amish doctor's home and I noticed that they all slept in one room....."

NOOOOOO....there is no way that this chick is LOUDER THAN THE PLANE. There's no way!!! I'm usually not one for physical violence but this woman was giving me delusions of stuffing my scarf into her mouth. My GOD woman!! Take it down a notch.

Now I was just done. Cathy's decibel was almost unforgiveable. How could she not know how LOUD she is? I wanted to get up and tell her to be quiet. I honestly thought about it. But rather than get blacklisted I held my tongue and got creative. Her voice was NOT going to beat me. I put my headphones in and turned on the white noise app. (A MUST for the constant traveler.) I turned up the volume to a safe level (I was not going to risk my hearing for this woman) and then proceeded to pull the cowl of my sweater over my ears and then wrap my scarf around the cowl. I am fully aware of how insane I must have looked. But I was TIRED. And Cathy was loud. I NEEDED that nap. I'd been up at 5 A.M. three mornings in a row. That nap was not only a necessity, it was a right.

I leaned my heavily wrapped head against the wall and was just exhaling a sigh of relief when...

"Dancing with the Stars was SOOO good last week."

OH. EMM. GEE!!!!!! HOW CAN I STILL HEAR YOU?!?!?!?! If you're keeping track this woman's voice is now louder than plane noise, white noise and two layers of clothing. I couldn't believe it. I really couldn't. I wanted to shake her until her larynx fell out. I prayed that she would suddenly be struck mute. I prayed that the cabin pressure would change and my ears would be so clogged I couldn't hear her. I prayed for SILENCE. (insert voice of a petulant child here) I JUST WANT TO SLEEP.

I was so tired. She was so loud. And I knew she wasn't going to get any quieter. At that point I knew I was going to have summon all of my ninja powers of sleep if I was going to best Cathy's incessant chatter. I would not be defeated by a high frequency talker. Nay! I began to channel my inner Luke Skywalker/Yoda/all things The Force and willed myself to tune out what was now a diatribe on her sick mother and her lack of prescription coverage. I was GOING to get that nap. I found myself wondering if I should get the new Harry Potter movie on blu-ray or just stream it from iTunes.....zzzzzzzzzzzzz

I WON!!!!!! IN YOUR FACE CHATTY CATHY!!! I woke up an hour later as the plane was landing in DC. I had beaten her. I'd gotten my nap and proved who was the better person. Okay, that's a bit much but I still won...

As we were deplaning, I threw Cathy the side eye of doom. She'd BETTER not be on the next flight I was on. I don't care who she works for, if she's bringing all of that chatter to the next flight, I'm filing a compliant. (Yes, I'm aware of how extra that seems. And I don't care.)

Helpful Travel Tip #1 - ALWAYS carry ear plugs and/or noise canceling headphones. Someone is going to have volume control issues and ear plugs/headphones are cheaper than the bail amount they give you because you slapped a noisy flier.

Next Up: Everything was fine until I puked on the plane...


lindalicious said...

oh, how i love thee (i was on pins and needles, trying to read faster so i could find out if you got your nap or the yapper was in for a smack down). can't wait for the next installment. =)

Ruthie said...

Hilarious! Had me laughing from beginning to end.

Lei said...

I am like you can sleep on a plane like no one's business. Give me a window seat and I am good to go. I love long flights for that reason. I hate anything under 2 hours. I also am one of those people who are afraid to start talking to a person sitting next to me for fear it will last the entire flight.