Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Going Home

I got distracted the other day flying from Charlotte to Boston.

I normally travel first class not because of my ego, but because I do a lot of day trips and being able to get off the plane fast, travel light and return the same day takes a lot of doing which first class travel helps.

Also by being in the first class section, seldom do I have to deal with chatty passengers or children kicking the back of my seat. I'm friendly enough but normally use air time as down time. I read catch up on news and sports, anything but talk or work.

Soon after take off, after the engines throttled back and the cabin noise level returned to a low drone, I found the back of my seat being pushed and kicked. The man about 30 years old behind me, had his eyes closed and was listening to his iPod , while happily kicking the crap out of my seat.

After 20 years of doing this travel thing for a living, I'm pretty used to all sorts of annoying behavior. After a while the kicking subsided as he removed his head phones and began non-stop chatter with his very attractive travel companion. For the duration of the flight I got a play by play, and color commentary about everything on the plane.

"There's the flight attendant, we are on US Airways, she's going to bring me a sprite. I love sprite, do you love sprite? Sprite is good. There's another flight attendant she's pretty. I think she's pretty."

On and on it went it didn't take long for me to process this chattyness and understand, that the man behind me was not playing with a full deck.

Admittedly my experience with people who are mentally disabled is limited, though I suspect I have a few family members who would meet the basic criteria. This gentleman was truly out there, but at the same time I was fascinated by his ability to keep the endless stream of meaning less babeling going and that of the young lady who he was traveling with ability to endure it. I suspected she was a hired helper, nanny or something and he was her responsibility.

The chatter was insensate. Occasionally she would remind him to lower his voice which he would reply, OOOOOKaaaay I understand.

I overheard him tell the flight attendant he was going home. The flight attendant offered no reply, only another can of sprite.

As the plane began it's descent the play by play continued; I have my seat belt on, do you have you seat belt on? We are almost there. We are going to land. I'm going home, I'm going home. I'm gong....

As flight 1305 touched down, the familiar bark of rubber tires hitting concrete at 130 knots, the solid plunk as the landing gear settled under a full load, followed by the always reassuring reverse thrust roar that filled the cabin, my thoughts returned to my day and my world with my fast approaching appointments, deadlines and even my return flight.

Until from behind came this massive sigh followed by:

"Hurray! I'm home ... there no place like home...."

Suddenly, all the rest of the world didn't seem so important. Because all the accounts, commissions and contracts in the world are meaningless if you can't go home. I think then and there I'd had enough of hotels and road trips, there really is not place like home.

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