Stepping Out of the Box - Elizabeth Franklin

Stepping Out of the Box

image1I took a trip to Las Vegas with my daughter who was going there on business. I decided to tag along, and I have to say that the timing was good because Philadelphia was about to get socked with what one radio commentator called “Snowmageddon.”

I can’t say that I was anticipating an exciting adventure in Las Vegas. My knowledge of the city is limited to what I have seen on CSI and movies with settings there. I did not expect to see homes of great literary figures or historical sites, but I had hoped for something to do.

You see, a trip like this is outside my comfort zone, and that is why I took the trip. I started by purchasing my own plane ticket online. Then I needed to get myself to the airport, so I bought a Groupon for long term parking, and finally, the real test, going into the airport by myself, going through security without setting off alarms, and finally finding my gate. You need to understand that I have never had to handle these things by myself. (My husband did them for me, and I always felt secure because he traveled often.)

When I finally boarded my plane, I headed for the very back aisle seat where I had planned to make myself comfortable working on my laptop and reading, maybe taking a snooze. I arrived at my chosen seat to see a lovely, largish man stuffed in the back corner with his head crammed against the window. He smiled, said hello, and closed his eyes. Okay, I thought, this will be good. I knew that the empty seat between us would not remain so for long because the plane was overcrowded, the flight had announced repeatedly. Nonetheless, I hoped for a nice, comfortable travel with my companions. Then I saw a big, young guy come towards me. He smiled apologetically and and squeezed into the seat between the largish guy and myself, no light-weight. Our shoulders were touching; our knees were touching. We three were crammed together so tightly that we could not put down the armrest between us.

With this new development, I knew that trying to work on my laptop was going to present a problem, but I tried anyway. I opened my laptop to work, but the guy in front of me put his seat back and the screen on my laptop nearly closed. I scooched down in the seat to try to see the screen. That did not work. I turned my head sideways, but that did not work. I did try to type, but I could not use my left arm because my elbow would be jabbing the guy next to me. I just gave up. How am I supposed to get anything done?

I decided to take a nap. I closed my eyes and dozed, waking frequently with my head bobbing in the aisle and pain in my neck. People on the plane were walking back and forth to the lavatory right behind me, bumping me as they squeezed by. One lady was standing next to me exercising! In this state of semi-consciousness, I was thinking how much I would love to put my head on the shoulder of the guy next to me. I kept telling myself, don’t do it. But oh, how I wanted to. (That’s what I would have done if my husband had been there.)

I couldn’t wait to arrive in Phoenix where these guys were getting off to go somewhere else. I was hopeful that my next two seat mates would be a little less expansive. This was not to be. The next two guys were larger. It figures, but fortunately, the flight was only a short distance, and I arrived safely at my destination.

I can’t help thinking about the wear and tear on airplanes today.  These planes go from place to īplace carrying hundreds of thousands of people of every size, shape, and color with little trouble. I see people chatting with complete strangers, sharing tidbits from their daily lives or, as in my case, napping with complete strangers in cramped quarters, sharing the air they breathe out from their snores. On this trip to Las Vegas, I have gotten a lot closer to four men and a young couple than I might with people I know well.  I am thankful to have arrived home safely and hopefully with no airborne diseases.