The Overly Friendly Skies

18 May

Credit: Mercola

I recently went on a business trip to the East Coast. Let me preface this entire story by saying that I don’t dig business travel in the least bit. Wearing fancy adult clothes (I’m a Pajama Jeans kinda girl) is not my idea of a good time, and well, you all know how I feel about work meetings. Additionally, the travel itself is pretty bogus. It usually involves getting up at an ungodly hour just so some disgruntled TSA agent can take a picture of my highly undesirable silhouette. I don’t even like those people seeing my fake weight when they check my license, why would I want them taking a peek at the hot mess that is my physique? Oh well, their funeral.

But I digress…

I kind of figured that the flight there would blow. I got stuck in a middle seat which means not only would I get screwed on leg space, but I could also toss any chance of elbow room out the window. If I was taking a hopper flight it wouldn’t have been so bad, but being sandwiched between two strangers for that long wasn’t something I’d done since college.

I got on the flight, and I could tell the guy to the right of me was nervous. He was sweating, tapping his foot nonstop, and biting his fingernails so much that I was convinced he’d eventually chew down to the knuckle. At some point I was hoping he was just a nervous flyer otherwise his behavior would have been indicative of a terrorist. Once he popped some pills he had in his bag he calmed down and went to sleep.

About 30 or so minutes into the flight the guy to the left of me pulled out sheet music, and began scribbling things all over the pages. He was making comments and corrections to the music, and I was intrigued by the passion with which he was making notations. He stopped working once the drink cart came around, and I saw it as my opportunity to ask him about what he was doing.

Big mistake. This man proceeded to talk for almost two hours. Nonstop. Honestly, at one point, I thought he was either bionic or undead because it didn’t appear that he was taking any breaths.

He became a music teacher after suffering from a career ending injury to one of his hands. Was he attacked by a shark while surfing? Did he accidentally break his wrist trying to save a toddler from drowning? Were there severe burns on his hand from a campfire gone awry? No, his career ended after he slammed his pinky  finger into a kitchen drawer. I’m not kidding.

The conversation went like this:

Me: “So, I see you’re making all sorts of notes on that sheet music. I take it you’re a musician, or a teacher?”

Him: “Blah blah blabiddy I’m going to take up the whole damn flight telling you my life story blah blah divorce blah music school blah erectile dysfunction blah I once killed a man.”

Me: “Oh, wow. Will your ex-wife be played by Valerie Bertinelli when this is made into a Lifetime Original Movie?”


I really wanted out of the conversation, but I could tell he needed to unload some of this baggage on someone. So, I let him talk. And talk. And talk….until he worked his bladder into a frenzy and had to use the restroom.

I was happy when he got back to his seat and fell asleep almost immediately. I guess free therapy and draining your snake will do that to a guy. I was elated that our conversation was over…until I realized that I hadn’t gone to the bathroom yet. I’m telling you, nothing makes you have to pee quite like being trapped in a middle seat on an airplane does.

There was no way I was waking this motormouth up. So I sat there and let my urine reserve build. I checked the clock every few minutes to see how long until we touched down. Only 2 hours. Only 1 hour and 48 minutes. Only 1 hour and 36 minutes. At one point I considered just peeing my pants, but ultimately decided to continue the risk of giving myself a bladder infection.

All is well that ends well because I made it to the airport, and was able to relieve myself. I survived the week of meetings, and got home safely. The next time I travel I’ll be a bit smarter about it. I’ll bring a pair of headphones. I’ll bring a book. I’ll learn sign language and pretend I’m hard of hearing. I’ll do anything but ask the person next to me what he’s working on.

47 Responses to “The Overly Friendly Skies”

  1. Stacie Chadwick 05/23/2012 at 7:02 am #

    Before I retired from work to raise my children and not get paid, start a blog and not get paid, and attempt to write a novel and not get paid, I was a 100K mile a year frequent flier. The only thing worse than having someone talk all over you is having someone throw up all over you. And the airline losing your luggage. With a huge meeting you need to get to asap. I don’t miss money.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/23/2012 at 9:21 am #

      100k miles a year? Holy mother, I was antsy just flying to/from Boston. The more you travel, the more trouble you’ll have.

      Thank god the guy didn’t throw up on me. Of course, I’ve got bladder issues for life…

  2. timmer 05/21/2012 at 5:49 pm #

    Face tattoo, Jen. No one on a plane will mess with you.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/22/2012 at 10:45 am #

      Hmmmm, I’m accepting ideas for my face tattoo. Right now, I’m thinking I’ll get one of the scenes from Platoon on my left cheek.

  3. SummerSolsticeGirl 05/19/2012 at 2:42 pm #


    Man, that sucks! Both the non-stop talking and the no-pee-breaks zone 😦

  4. MissFourEyes 05/19/2012 at 7:59 am #

    Sometimes I get jealous of those guys with elaborate life stories to tell during free therapy sessions, they look so much more relaxed after

    • Jen and Tonic 05/20/2012 at 12:54 pm #

      I KNOW! When I’m having a bad day I’m going to buy bus far and just ride it around for hours telling people my story.

  5. Rob Rubin 05/18/2012 at 8:32 pm #

    Before I voluntarily elected to trap myself in a cubicle all day, I spent 7 years as a consultant flying all over the country. Luckily, I flew so much that I always got upgraded to first class. Though on business trips, first class was usually full of other fat, boring consultants who were waaaaaaayy to excited about their work. In fact, I could totally see them shaking during the flight from the withdrawl of not being able to use their Blackberries.

    Some days I longed to sit back where the cool people sat. At least until my filet mignon with port wine reduction was served.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/20/2012 at 12:52 pm #

      No, you don’t want to be back there with us. It’s where they give you crappy peanuts, and babies scream, and people fart. It’s a horrible, cramped WASTELAND back there.

      • Rob Rubin 05/20/2012 at 6:08 pm #

        Yeah, the peanuts were a problem. As for the farting, 90% of the time, that was usually me anyway.

  6. Ink. [Anette] 05/18/2012 at 2:17 pm #

    Ha ha ha Jen. Love your style girl! This is the exact reason why I stopped talking to other plane passengers in 1999.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/20/2012 at 12:49 pm #

      Smart woman! Although, if we ever sat next to each other on a plane I would talk your ear off. Then I’d give you permission to write a post about me.

      • Ink. [Anette] 05/20/2012 at 12:53 pm #

        Ha ha ha! You know what Jen… I would love to sit next to you on a plane, even a transatlantic one 🙂 I think it could get really crazy, the two of us chatting and blahblahing and boozing and we’d probably get kicked of.

        • Jen and Tonic 05/20/2012 at 12:56 pm #

          Oh yeah. We’d definitely end up on the news after violating several TSA laws.

          • Ink. [Anette] 05/20/2012 at 1:03 pm #

            Yearh! And after that we’d share the Numero Uno on the Homeland List of all terrifying threats. Yeeeee-haw!

  7. speaker7 05/18/2012 at 1:30 pm #

    Why in god’s name didn’t I follow you sooner? Yes I did slam my pinky finger in a kitchen drawer, but that still is no excuse. I will have to refrain from reading your blog at work, which is what I did today, because my constant snickering is causing stares, and people aren’t buying “Oh, I’m just laughing at the Dewey Decimal System. Those 818s crack me up.” 818s are the joke books… as you can see, I am nowhere near as funny as you.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/20/2012 at 12:49 pm #

      You didn’t follow me sooner because you’re a badass, and badasses can’t just go following everyone willy nilly!

      Did your coworkers buy your excuse? I would rather admit I’m watching porn at work than reading this blog.

  8. Sword-chinned bitch 05/18/2012 at 11:54 am #

    I’m reading, laughing, reading, laughing…I get to the part where the guy’s telling you his life story and I think of my rule never to talk to bus, plane, train or boat mates unless they’re offering me a job — tee hee!! What a nightmare! Glad you got through it! At least you got some funny and entertaining blog material from it!

    • SummerSolsticeGirl 05/19/2012 at 2:43 pm #


      never to talk to bus, plane, train or boat mates unless they’re offering me a job <== my new rule!

    • Jen and Tonic 05/20/2012 at 12:45 pm #

      Like SSG, I’ve made your rule my life rule. I’ll say, “Is this going to end in me getting paid somehow? Then GTFO.”

  9. Carolina Courtland 05/18/2012 at 11:18 am #


    I’ve pretended to not speak or understand English. It works.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/20/2012 at 12:44 pm #

      YES! Sadly, I don’t look exotic. Unless you count a “trailer park” as an exotic location.

  10. daterofboys 05/18/2012 at 11:15 am #

    It’s true – nothing makes you have to pee quite like being trapped in the middle. Awful.
    The last flight I took, I was basically molested. To the point that other men had to intervene when the guy wouldn’t stop grabbing my boobs and kissing my cheek (only because I had turned my head at the right moment).

    • Jen and Tonic 05/20/2012 at 12:43 pm #

      I’ve heard about this before — people being accosted on flights. I have to say, that has never happened to me. I’m kind of offended!

  11. Dominic Ryan Paris 05/18/2012 at 10:49 am #

    This really made me laugh out loud to the point I was embarrassed I was at work. Thanks for that.

  12. Sophy 05/18/2012 at 10:40 am #

    I’m always carrying earphones with me. That is definitely the best way of not communicating with people. You never know when someone will try to sell you something, wants free therapy or just have kids under the appropriate age. If you want to make an even bolder statement I recommend you to bring a really large news paper, you know the one’s that totally cover your face and body, makes you look really smart and that you can play fort with.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/20/2012 at 12:41 pm #

      Yes! Headphones do seem to be the “get out of my face” item of choice. I can’t believe I had forgotten mine. BIG mistake.

      I wish I had had a newspaper. I think I would have just crinkled it loudly every time he started talking.

  13. CubicleViews 05/18/2012 at 10:34 am #

    I loathe business travel. I once got stuck next to a very old grandma who brought, I kid you not, and entire 4″ thick photo album on the flight and proceeded to tell me about every picture. Even when I got out my laptop and headphones she continued.

    So, I eventually ordered a jack and coke (ok 2) and sat back and got the lowdown on Bobby, Tina, and Slutty Jill. Classic.

    Still would have rather read a good book or slept.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/20/2012 at 12:39 pm #

      Grandmas love photo albums, don’t they? We need to introduce them to Flickr. I do think it’s really great that there was a ‘Slutty Jill’ in her stories. That she could recognize what a hoochie looked like, and to admit it, is pretty cool.

  14. Just Rambling 05/18/2012 at 10:08 am #

    Whooo, that sucked! Thumbs up for being social though. Yup. Not me. If you knew me, you’d know that the look on my face is so evil that I can kill 25 people just by staring at them. And then when they’re dead, they’re dead for the rest of their life. No resurrection for them or whatsoever. So I never bother to talk to strangers because I don’t want to kill anyone. But this story…this story totally cracked me up. 😀
    It’s hilarious. Yes, you totally deserve an accolade! I feel sorry for his pinky though… don’t you? 😉

    • Jen and Tonic 05/20/2012 at 12:36 pm #

      I do feel sorry for his pinky. I mean, the guy worked for 30 years at music, and then slammed his finger in a drawer and lost all that hard work. That really does suck.

      I cannot imagine you being so evil. I think you’re awesome!

  15. TJLubrano 05/18/2012 at 9:34 am #

    Jen Jen Jen…did you look like this O_O while he was talking? Don’t ask me why I said your name 3 times in a row. Ah sitting in the middle seat is not good. Ever. Such annoyance. Sweet Mother already picked my fave sentence haha. Sadsies! I love learning new words ^_^

    Usually I have music in my ears when I’m outside (not too loud of course), so every now and then I think to myself “You know, let me be more social and ask a random question” it often ends in a disaster as I usually pick out people who simple want to tell me their life story. Why is that? I do not get it. It is rude.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/20/2012 at 12:31 pm #

      The whole time I was like @_@. Seriously…he was talking so much I was hypnotized by his words!

      You have such a sweet face so I think people just assume you want to hear what they have to say. I think you need to just growl everywhere you go.

      • TJLubrano 05/26/2012 at 2:27 am #

        Hahahaha! I need to practice my growl now or put a psycho face on. I do scare Cilla pretty often with stare, maybe I should do this outside as well.

  16. Smaktakula 05/18/2012 at 9:26 am #

    Hahaha! I’ve gone to tremendous lengths to avoid talking with weirdos, but your sacrifice was heroic.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/20/2012 at 12:27 pm #

      If you had been next to this guy, you would have done the same thing. Trust me.

  17. Main Street Musings Blog 05/18/2012 at 9:24 am #

    Next time I’d recommend popping some of those pills yourself! 🙂

    • Jen and Tonic 05/20/2012 at 12:26 pm #

      Amen. Do you know a shifty doctor who will write me a prescription?

  18. sweetmother 05/18/2012 at 9:19 am #

    feckin’ hilarious as usual…ummm, ‘my pinky got kinky and now i play the piano stinky. SADSIES!!!!@!!!!!!’ i swear to god, i feckin’ love you. you’re out of your goddermned mind, in the best way possible. sm

    • Jen and Tonic 05/20/2012 at 12:25 pm #

      Oh, I am COMPLETELY out of my mind. So are you. It’s why we love each other so much.

  19. El Guapo 05/18/2012 at 9:12 am #

    I travel with a laptop, heaphones and a crazed expression. And I always try and book an end seat.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/20/2012 at 12:23 pm #

      An end seat IS ideal. You have that space next to you to sort of look away from the person immediately next to you. Of course, that just creeps the person on the other side of the aisle out.

  20. Brother Jon 05/18/2012 at 9:09 am #

    The last time I had a business flight (actually, my only time) I ended up on one of those little 30 row, puddle jumper jets. I was in the last row, right next to the crapper. The kid sitting beside me (around 16 or so) immediately told me that this was his first time flying. I promptly said “Cool, wake me up if we start to crash” then fell asleep.

    I’ve missed my connecting flight twice in my life. Both times were on that trip, in Atlanta. (I was flying from NW Arkansas to Miami) Never again.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/20/2012 at 12:22 pm #

      HAHA! If I had said that to the guy next to me he may have leaned over and choked me out.

      Missing a connecting flight is the worst, especially if it’s in a crappy location. You have to stay overnight in a place where your only options for food are an IHOP or an AM-PM.

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