Saturday, May 1, 2010

Seat 13 D

Here I sit, seat 13D. My wife and daughter are in the row in front of me. It’s 8:45 am, Friday, all is quite. A subdued indistinguishable voice comes from several rows behind me. I can hear a baby in the back of the plane crying, the sound is surprisingly not irritating. The jet engine warms up as the big 747 sits waiting on the tarmac for his turn to charge down the runway. Next to me the lady is sending beacon laden signals of, “don’t even think about talking to me.” I am doing my best to comply but it’s hard. Her nose is buried in her book. I cannot ascertain the title but its chapter heading is ‘Shattered.’ Her exaggerated leaning away from me seems to broadcast catastrophe if our elbows were too actually touch. I just noticed I am exaggerating my lean to the left in an effort to ease her subconscious worry. These few lines represent some of our complexity – I would bet her conscious mind is not even aware of how her subconscious mind is staving off some unnamed, unknown potential horrible bad contact with the stranger sitting to her left. ‘He is male – therefore he is a high risk; if I lean far away, I will be safe.’
I wonder if the airlines will understand the uptick in their profit margin I am providing for them today with my 23 pound weight loss. It is no small thing to lessen the load for 3,115 miles of travel by 23 pounds. That has to be a considerable net bonanza of unrealized savings. If you and I were smart people, and if we had a little data, and of course if you had remembered your slide rule, I am pretty sure we could figure out the exact increase the fuel savings brought to their bottom line. Let’s just try it…. 735,000 pounds (The weight of the plane) + passengers and cargo weight minus 23 pounds, times the horsepower, divide by 10,000 RPM’s, times 4 jet motors, times gallons of fuel burned per hour, plus head winds of 15 miles per hour for x minutes, hmmm…I guess even with your slide rule it is beyond our calculating and proper formula abilities – But my rough estimate of savings is 1 gallon of jet fuel. Hmmm…that doesn’t sound that great considering our world uses 84 million barrels of oil per day worldwide – Sorry Delta, I tried to help!
The lady next to me is relaxing – I guess she feels her defensive posturing has been effective and it is safe to lower her guard. Should we do an experiment and try talking to her to see if her defense position re-postures? Sure, lets go for it. “Lady would you like me to turn the reading light on for you?”
“No, I am fine.”
Hmmm…firm and direct but kind - I guess that is a no! Opps, her left arm just tucked into her side, her feet shuffled, that sigh, what does that mean? I guess she’s back to defense position #1. I notice she is onto a new chapter in her reading. The heading at the top of the page is as before, ‘Shattered,’ that must be the name of the book and not a chapter heading. A mystery….what has been shattered or who has been shattered. I certanily will not be asking her, who or what has been shattered! I guess I will have to buy the book if I really want to know. She seems very into it; maybe the book is just that good.
I guess this all sounds a bit creepy, me noting the stranger to my right and all her non-verbal’s. In defense of my own creepiness, I have heard only 7% of all communication is verbal, so just because I am writing and making note of her non-verbals – I know a secret everyone has these thoughts. Now don’t start thinking, “I don’t,” because that would just be a lie.
Well maybe next time I will tell you about the other people around me.
What is the lesson here? Not really a lesson but you might want to recognize that your non-verbals are screaming reams of information to those in the room. If you are aware of your non-verbals and it is intentional because of the creepy old guy sitting next to you – They are working.


Rose said...

Excellent point here. Sorry you couldn't help Delta out with only one gallon. At least you tried!

Anonymous said...

I am not supposed to be browsing blogs right now. But saw an update and am sure glad I read this. This IS the funniest thing you have written in a long time mate!!! I laughed out loud when the lady went into self protect mode and cowered with her arms tucked to her side! Poor woman! :))

Maybe you shoulda told her that you look leaner and thus less scary now. :p
Ps: May I add that it coulda also been that scary mustache? :|

Sylvia K said...

Hey, good to see you back! And thanks for a great morning laugh! And congrats on the weight loss! It is fun, sometimes scary observing people on airplanes. I promise if you ever happen to be in a seat next to me on an airplane I won't go into self-protect mode! Hope you had a great fishing trip! Have a wonderful weekend!


Arkansas Patti said...

Twenty three pounds??? Way to go GQ. How very "green" of you saving belt leather and jet fuel.
I see you are a born people watcher also and I have to admit, your observations are pretty insightful. She must have had a bad experience before.
I personally enjoy a good chat with a total stranger as long as they smell OK.

Lynda G. said...

For what it's worth, I probably would have talked your ear off the entire flight. You'd be the one leaning away curled up in a defensive pose. HAHA!
Great job on the weight loss! INSPIRING!

Holly Kay said...

OH MY GOSH. Choco is right--this is one of the funniest entries ever! Oh the poor lady beside you, and how funny how intent you were on getting her to ease up. I also like the tips you gave to Delta. Those terms like horsepower and RPMs sound like they are used with some expertise on fuel and speed--very impressive!

Grayquill said...

Rose: Thanks – I did try and still am trying. Today was of limited value – I broke several of my rules.

Choco: I am always happy if I was part of giving you a smile or laugh.
BTW – my mustache is not scary – it is bad photography. :)

Sylvia: That weight loss has caused havoc with my blogging – my creativity has really been stifled.
If we do ever end up sitting next to each other on any kind of ride, I expect to be told many of your stories.

Arkansas Patti: Thank you – Thank you! Hmmm…. Do you think it was the smell thing? Yikes!

Lynda G: I kind of believe you about talking my ear off – You suppose you require hours of debriefing after a day of teaching – the stories you must have.

Holly Kay: How nice to see you here today! You say I was intent on getting the lady to ease up – well I would have liked talking to her I do admit that. And, after I figured out her desire of being left alone and not bothered, I did ask her a question even though I knew she was capable of pushing a light switch herself. That might have been a bit mean. :O

Blunt Edges said...

The following note has been borrowed from the Delta Airlines' website:

"We, hereby wish to thank Mr. Creepy Old Guy, who will be referred to as Mr.COG from now on, for embarking on a historical journey last Friday. Mr.COG provided one of our regular customers the fright of her life by being intrusive into her personal space and even peeking into the book she was reading. The said lady has promised us that she will never travel by Delta Airlines again and even if for some unforeseen reason she has to travel with us, she will never take a 36-series seat. Thank you Mr.COG for saving us the fuel costs that we would have had to bear to fly a full-grown woman for 3,115 miles. We sincerely hope you continue to bestow such favors on us."

Blunt Edges said...

damn...that was supposed to be a "13-series seat" apologizes!!!

Hilary said...

Thanks for the laughs but I'd sure love to read the blog post the woman may have written about this flight. ;)

Grayquill said...

Blunt Edges: You are hilarious I laughed through your whole comment. Just because I said you are funny, don't let it go to your head - you might then become intolerable. :)

Hilary: She would have written - I sat next to the most handsome considerate man on the plane today! There you go, curiosity solved. :O

AngelMc said...

See, she missed getting to know you. Poor her.

troutbirder said...

What a hoot. At least it gives me some ideas for note taking on my next boring flight.

Debra said...

Funny, funny post! I just love the observations we make about people at 35,000 feet and I have often wondered what other passengers are thinking about as well. Thanks for providing the glimpse!

Sometimes I find it funny and rather comical the lack of personal space we give up while flying, for example, if the lady had turned to talk to you and have a conversation, your faces most likely would have been what? 4-5 inches apart? Can you imagine speaking this closely to someones face at work or walking down the street? Makes me laugh to think about it...

I know, I know, I sometimes have a strange sense of humor...

Grayquill said...

AngelMc: Yip – poor her???? Thanks!

Troutbirder: Glad to help :)

Debra: 4-5 inches is definitely way to close - Good Point! Be careful what you wish for – right?

Pat said...

You make me laugh and you make me think...and both are always needed.
Non-verbal comunication...boy I'm over flowing with that! One glance my way and you know what I'm thinking...I need to work on that unless I'm thinking something kind, which isn't always the case. I'm not a big talker, so I tend to do like your seat mate, I could be missing out on some good conversation and not even know it!

Dianne said...

I love talking to strangers
I will talk to anyone, any where, any time
My son said he can always tell that in a group of people a lost person or a crazy person or a lonely person will always find me

I guess my non verbals are as loud as my verbals :)

Grayquill said...

Pat: Transparency is delightful in this day, so many have fences built high and wide. BTW-the little I know about you – my guess it is mostly kind thoughts along with a great smile :)
Thanks for stopping by and the great comment.