Sunday, June 28, 2009

I hope I annoy you as much as you annoy me

Many people are recipients of transient hateful juju from me in the course of daily life. There's the twit in the grocery line who waits until the clerk announces a total before they even begin to look for their wallet, surprised (again!) by the need to pay for the stuff. There are the hosers who can't figure out how a 4-way stop is supposed to work. And dimwits who talk in a movie theater like they're sitting in their living room. All these primitive forms of life get just a fleeting moment of being despicable to me. But there is a special category of annoyer for whom I generate hour upon hour of fresh brewed hatefulness - the person sitting next to me in an airplane.

There must be no common life situation that creates more consistent dissatisfaction than air travel. Let's face it, every aspect of it sucks hard. Having to ride shuttle buses or return rental cars, schlepping bags around, worrying about your 3 ounce fluids, standing in the ticket line, standing in the security check line, fighting through piles of baggage to get a spot in the airport bar, weather delays, no room in the overhead bins - it's just a cornucopia of irritation, and all that before you even get to your seat. And then when you finally do make it to your seat, there's that person (or if you're in the dreaded middle seat, two persons) who have been assigned by God to be my nemesis - the Person Sitting Next To Me. The PSNTM. I hate you.

There have been rare exceptions to the "I hate the PSNTM" rule. Family, mostly, but a few times a person who was actually thoughtful, friendly, and smelled okay, as well as capable of conversation. Otherwise, the PSNTM is a universal cipher, a person just taking up space (especially on the arm rest) and being one of several annoying things:
  • (a) too fussy, ringing the flight attendant constantly
  • (b) too fidgety, some kind of tweaker who can't sit still
  • (c) too out of it, verging on comatose, sleeping with their head on my shoulder
  • (d) too friendly, trying to talk to me when I don't care
  • (e) not friendly enough, acting like they don't care when I try to talk to them
OK, PSNTM, some part of me knows you are an actual human being who has a family, who has wants and needs, a life outside the airplane, in fact a person who may be delightful to know, a charmer, a mensch, a person I would love to have as a cherished friend. But as long as you are the PSNTM I hate you. The best you can ever be to me is a minor annoyance. It could be Ghandi next to me - just another irritating PSNTM. And hey, Mahatma, your newspaper is infringing into my tray table space, shape up. (Note: if I have met you in the airport bar before boarding, and if you flirted with me (females only, thanks), you may be something better than a minor annoyance. No other exceptions will be made.)

I understand and accept that for the PSNTM I am the PSNTM. I understand and accept that on any given flight I may be (a) (b) (c) and/or (d) and maybe (e) and other letters for the PSNTM. Someday, when I become enlightened, I may not intrinsically hate the PSNTM. And I hope everyone else becomes enlightened and no longer hates me for being the PSNTM. I will keep that hope alive, but I will not hold my proverbial breath.


Peat Moss said...

Just think to yourself, TGINP, or "thank god I'm not Peter", who was on a plane 3x a week for ten years, many of which were long-hauls, 10 hours or more. You have to dope me up and drag me on one these days.

Thud said...

The psntm is usually my wife...I'm quite keen on her and she doesn't mind me falling asleep on her...she's a keeper!