The Indignity of Travel
I am sitting on a plane in Perth, Australia, waiting for the plane to depart. I watch as others jockey for space in the overhead bins, wait in line for the person in front to settle themselves, be kind to one another by helping and moving and saying ‘thanks’ and ‘sorry’ a few more times than they would otherwise.
I’ve traveled millions of miles. Some airlines are better than others. Some airports are better than others. Some trips easier than others. But at the end of the day, no matter how ‘easy’ or ‘hard’ the trip, no matter if you arrive on time (I’m not even going to discuss the countless hours and days spent in airports waiting for planes to depart, or the fog to lift, or the snow to stop, or the lightning to abate), or flying first class or economy (although first class obviously is more comfortable) travel is an indignity.
Lines, lines, lines. Small seats (even the big ones are ‘small’ compared to sitting on your own couch), contained space, stale air, large people who seem to drip over onto my space (yes, even in first class – when they drink too much) and kinda snore or snort as they sort of pass out mid flight.
Then there are the rules: at this moment, as I write this post, I’m flying from Perth to Sydney (having just left a wonderful woman-friend who lives here and offered me a lovely home/holiday/heart/rest as I took a long needed holiday). But it’s a national flight, like going from Los Angeles to New York! My friend packed me a lovely lunch and now I have to eat the whole thing, leave it behind or (and here is a new option I just figured out) convince both the guy next to me and the fight attendant to help me eat it.
I also experienced a new ‘rule’ when coming from Sydney to Perth and was told by Qantas that I was only allowed 14 KG as personal carry on. Oops. They whisked off my wheely before I realized that my laptop was in the front flap, with no padding. ‘It’ll be all right’ the ticketing agent said. “We handle our baggage carefully.” Right.
It’s just that it’s all unknowable, a mystery. A tiring, tiresome, uncomfortable deal that has no option except to hire or fly my own plane.
And so I’m thankful that I can get to watch my son in the Paralympics in Vancouver, and visit clients in Sydney and Edinburgh and Hong Kong and Oslo, and trek in Nepal, and do vision quests in Machu Pichu. I suppose unless I learn how to spread my own wings and fly, I must be grateful that I end up where I want to end up safely.