Monday, April 09, 2007

The Long Ride Over

Don't know what it is about airplanes that brings out the strange in people but it appears to be a verifiable fact. People just get weird on planes. And on longer trips, they get weirder.

We were boarded and after a minor scuffle with a family that insisted that I swap seats with them due to them being split up, we got underway. There were two interesting stories on this trip in addition to the ongoing saga of people not sitting down, which has pretty much become a standard on the San Francisco to Shanghai run. I've never been on a flight were the crew has to constantly remind the passengers that we can't leave until they sit down. Over and over again.

As we approached cruising altitude, the guy in the row with my traveling companion Beth decided he wanted to be her friend. His opening line was the most original I had ever heard, and I'm sure he gets lots of mileage out of it with the ladies - "Have you ever been snorkeling in the Solomon Islands?"

He was sitting there reading an article about the recent earthquakes that have been striking the region and the subsequent damage to the reef culture. The next words out of his mouth were, "Do you know where that earthquake came from?" Which set me to wondering how an adult could possibly be uninformed as to the birth of earthquakes. Following a steady stream of information ranging from fake breasts to astroturf to SUVs, Beth finally put on her headphones in order to check the flow of information. He simply talked louder but finally got the message and fell asleep. The last thing I heard him say to a steward was "Excuse me, are we only one hour out or are we half way." Confusing those two states seems difficult, but then I know where earthquakes come from.

The second interesting bunch was a family of four who sat in front of me. Mom and Dad were fashionably dressed in black t-shirts and those really expensive ripped jeans. The kids, a daughter of 16 or so and a son about 1 year younger were similarly attired. What made them interesting was the sense of overt coolness that they were trying to broadcast to everyone in range. Junior was a skateboarder as evidenced by the board the stewardess removed from the overhead, citing it as a hazard. Apparently Junior had it in mind to huck some serious jumps in Asia. The stewardess inquired as to ownership and Mom chimed in with "Oh, how did you know it was his?", hoping for her to notice his Vans, baggy clothes or the 1950s Frank Sinatra hat he was sporting. She was disappointed when the stewardess replied, "It's in the bin by his seat."

From there is was downhill for me, as the children wouldn't sit still for more than 5 minutes at a time. Junior kept driving his little toy skateboard up and down the seats, making me wonder if this was appropriate behavior for a 15 year old. Sis kept bringing her seat up and down, each time simply pushing the button and lunging back without regard for my poorly placed knees. Even the little bowls of ice cream Mom ordered up didn't chill them out.

Finally they fell asleep. From there I managed to nod off myself a couple of times making sure I was awake for the 3/4 flight feeding of Ramen in Your Lap.

It was a pretty easy flight. We were close to landing and following one more adminition for everyone to sit down (under threat of circling the airport) we came down. Immigration was a breeze, there were no bats in the luggage area, we found our drivers and made it to the hotel unscathed and intact.

Easter Dinner for me was Pasta al Funghi con Prosciutto and a glass of white at Roberto's Trattoria around the block from our hotel.

The first night's sleep is a bit of a challenge despite being exhausted and I had my regular 12AM, 3AM and 5AM wake ups followed by out of bed at 6. Off to the park for my first day ritual. This time in a new season.

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