Monday, May 7, 2007

We enjoyed the flight: notes from Frankfurt airport

My greatest fear on a transcontinental flight has nothing to do with lost baggage, terrorism or turbulence resulting in my being stranded on a Lord-of-the-Flies-like desert island. It doesn't even have to do with the tedious security process, in which I inevitably get hauled aside for secondary screening and have the entire contents of my two carefully packed carry-ons (which are intended to carry me through the next month) emptied onto a counter and searched by TSA officials. My fear is entirely centered on my neighbour - a person I will be belted in and sitting next to foreleven hours. This time, I lucked out. Unlike my previous flight from Frankfurt, I did not have a water bottle spilled on my head. No small children kicking the back of my seat. No super-chatty lady who wants to talk about the excruciating details of her daughter's relationship. A polite gentleman who quietly watched movies and made sure I got my breakfast. But who had one quirk I have never actually experienced outside of television: he talked about himself in the plural.

At first, I thought he was with a co-worker who must have been sitting elsewhere ('we had to get a special visa for this business trip' and 'we do software programming'). But he must also have had his family with him ('we are travelling to sweden - we have family there'), though he also spoke for his family and co-worker's opinions ('we have heard of atmospheric chemistry - we think it must be very interesting' and 'we really don't like airplane food'). But it eventually dawned on me that he worked and was travelling on his own.

And now we're wondering which of our fellow passengers in the waiting lounge will be our neighbour for the flight to Helsinki. We're hoping for someone who refers to himself in the third person...

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