Tonight, my dear ones, I am back in the air. I write this from about 35K ft and somewhere, from the looks of it, over the northern reaches of Virginia. The pilot informed us we had a “strong tailwind” so that means we should be landing in the Fatherland within the half-hour. While I’m sitting here I thought I would write a purely fictional account of my travels aboard this swingin’ luxury jet. Then I realized the truth was stranger.
First of all, the MD-80 (also known as the Super 80) is the workhorse of this particular airline’ fleet. I do believe it is the only plane I have ever flown with them, and I’ve flown quite a bit. In fact, if you live within a hundred miles of DFW International Airport, this one airline is pretty much the only game in town. My wife and I happen to live exactly 3.2 miles from the end of Runway 31R. So, what to make of the Super 80… Well, I suppose it’s proven its reliability. However, it is a dull plane to me. There are no entertainment screens anywhere in the cabin. In fact, there’s nothing. It’s pretty much a utilitarian beast. In fact, I don’t think I would place the modifier “super” anywhere near the “80” in this deal. It’s almost like the 80 got shafted on this one – like it was standing there saying “Hey… Hey adjective. I don’t want any trouble. Just stay over there and we’ll go our separate ways.”
So I boarded this “super” plane and found my seat. I was sitting fore of the wing which is nice and I had a window seat, which I like. I like to look out the window and imagine the happy people down on the ground. And we can leave it at that. For a while it appeared that I would have my row all to myself! The plane filled up and I was still by myself. But you knew that wouldn’t last. After the cabin door had already been closed it was opened again to accommodate passengers from a connecting flight. And where did they find to sit? Yep. Right next to me. Listen, I got up to use the bathroom shortly after we reached cruising altitude and I scanned that cabin clean my friends. There were at least two other seats open on that metal bucket. Granted they were not together and this kid, though not quite young enough to be a lap child probably could’ve made it on his own.
Anyway, lap boy and his daddy sat down after a brief argument in Mandarin about whether lappy wanted the aisle or the middle seat. Listen, bucko, he’s a kid. Why are you offering him a choice? On a normal super plane there would be a ton of options to keep his little mind occupied for three hours. Oh, that’s right. It’s a Super 80! I forgot. About twenty minutes into the flight Lapps’ mom and dad swapped places and Mrs. Lap Child got the joy of sitting right next to me while her husband got to sleep in the back of the plane.
I tried to ignore the whole goings-on of these people. The kid wasn’t too bad. Either that or my preflight G&T was doing her job and I didn’t care. I did some crosswords. I played pick up sticks on my phone. Picked them all up in about a minute and got bored. I looked out the window. Darkness. What a super view. Think they could’ve slapped some lights on this plane’s fuselage? Super. As they announced that the flight attendants should “prepare the cabin for landing” I noticed two things. First, what about this blah aircraft needed preparing? Put the damn wheels down, make your turn, and hit the runway. End of story. Second, the lap child’s mother was now wearing an arctic parka. Seated beside me now was no longer the Chinese peasant wife who spoke no words, wearing a tee shirt and jeans but an Inuit Eskimo in a hip-length coat replete with fur collar. Her hood was on and up and cinched. Her son was still wearing something that resembled a Roman surplice, Pre-Vatican II with an Angry Birds logo on the chest. Apparently Lap Mom was prepared for the chilly Newark weather. Her son could go to hell.
But the best part of this whole evening happened just next. The Super passenger in the seat right in front of me started talking. That was about it. No, the things he had to say to his seatmate where of interest to me, being a native of the land. “I tell ya’, you look out and see swamps and oil refineries and you know just where you are. Haha.” The man next to him chuckled a bit. He then went on to give his life story in the remaining five minutes before touchdown. He was an honors student at some Dallas area college, I bit my tongue to avoid blurting out “oh you must be an exceptional genius…” But he continued to talk about his general lack of interest in the Garden State all the while showing his general lack of knowledge. Again, I wanted to say ” Listen buddy, you don’t see any swamps so cut the crap. Second, those refineries are employing a boatload of people AND giving us some pretty cheap gas relative to the rest of the nation.” But I had been keeping my eye on him for three hours. He didn’t seem to realize but I could see the activity on his laptop screen reflected in the window in front of me. He’s a pompous young man. Most of his time was spent looking through his photo album and most of those photos were of him. Selfies. In a mirror. Thankfully none of them were shirtless.
All in all, I think I’d rather opt for a less Super aircraft; but if they keep providing me this kind of entertainment live then I can deal with the lack of seatbaack monitors, satellite TV, or anything else of value.
Bottom line, Mom, I hope you appreciate what it took to get me here. Everyone, keep praying, please.