My weekend back in DC left me with one very disturbing and uncomfortable impression: I am now homeless there.
It’s one thing to visit other cities that you don’t call home, but going back to a place where you lived for 39 years and not being able to go home at night to your own bed is another. Sleeping on couches and, in one case, a friend’s neighbor’s couch, relying on others for transportation and basic sanitation is disconcerting and I almost feel like I can understand a tiny bit of what it must be like to not have your own home. The surroundings are familiar but the feeling is both unsettling and humbling, like your self-worth has plummeted.
San Jose is well and truly home now, for no other reason than the cliche: this is where my stuff is. It is where I can be alone in my own home, sleep in my own bed, use my own big fluffy towels after a shower in my bathroom that is exactly the kind of shower head I like…
Meanwhile, I should just point out a few tips for those of you traveling by plane in the near future. Following these simple suggestions will go a long way toward avoiding my violent rage and attempts to pummel you with a seat cushion used for floation.
- Even if bathing is typically avoided in your culture or home country, please force yourself to indulge before you are seated 3 inches away from eight other passengers in the seats adjacent to you. For five and a half hours.
- And if you rise to use the lavatory, avoid putting your arm on my headrest, thus exposing my face directly to your underarm.
- Please do not train your child to be quiet by sitting him in front of a DVD. When electronic devices must be stowed, I’d rather not hear his screaming tantrum because he has to amuse himself rather than sit numb and hypnotized by bright colors on a screen.
- I understand that family is important and after a long trip one likes to meet the family in baggage claim… but it doesn’t take 11 members of your family to get your luggage off the carousel, and when all 11 spread out along the edge no one else can get in to get their bags. (Bathing rules also apply to your family, sorry.)
- Bags that don’t fit under your seat should be checked. Bringing two suitcases onboard the aircraft, shoving them into overhead bins, and then not using the under-seat storage is selfish, annoying, and you should be banned from flying forever.
- I am not generally the kind of person who leaps to his feet when the aircraft lands; but if you are in the aisle seat and people have already exited the plane past your row, please don’t keep sitting there trapping the two other people in the row.
- We are all in the same boat, literally. We all have only 3 inches of space between us and the seat back in front of us, so grumbling and sighing when someone needs to get out of their seat to use the lavatory is not appreciated.
- Oh, and a note to the airlines: we’ve already paid for a ticket. Then we have to pay for an extra inch of legroom. Then we have to pay for a box of snacks in tiny bags that are half the size and ten times the price of regular bags. Is it really necessary to continue to annoy us by showing television commercials during the in-flight “entertainment?” Entertainment which already consists of thinly-disguised promos for NBC prime time programming anyway?
I don’t know — is it that I hate flying, or that I hate people who fly?