Having flown numerous times across the Atlantic, I’ve become somewhat accustomed to long flights and swollen legs. I’ve learned to accept airline food, enjoy various complimentary alcoholic beverages and have even found ways to finagle myself into business or first class. I’m a pretty smooth talker and after discussing my height, displaying my long legs or justifying that I will likely be the tallest person on the plane – I’m usually rewarded with an exit row, or at worst an aisle seat. Never in all my years of flying have I been assigned a middle seat that I actually had to sit in during a flight. However, this streak was broken the day I traveled back to Madeira. With snow wrecking havoc on B.C., the Lower Mainland (Vancouver and surrounding areas) experienced its largest snowfall in 25 years - causing complete chaos at the Vancouver Airport. My brother almost didn’t make it home from Hawaii for Christmas (basketball tournament) because YVR was limiting incoming arrivals. With a spillover of pre- and post-Christmas travelers and the continuous accumulation of falling snow, regular operations were difficult for an airport unaccustomed to functioning in this surprising weather. These among other factors led to me receiving an unassigned seat for my flight to Frankfurt. Uh-oh, this didn't sound good. After testing my regular spiel on the desk attendant, I was immediately shot down. The flight was completely full, people transferring had lost baggage and passengers on standby were trying to sweet talk their way on the plane. I had a gut feeling that I wouldn’t be sitting pretty for my long return to Europe.
Anyone who has traveled enough can probably place previous seatmates into 4 categories: the chatty Cathy, the friendly flyer, the silent seatmate, or the smooth talking chap. Sure enough I found myself sitting between two sweet talking fellows who wouldn’t stop babbling to me the duration of the on the flight. And these were BIG guys. Seriously, they were probably the largest guys on the plane. I think the funniest part was that they were traveling together and I was smack between both of them. Thinking I could use this to my advantage, I suggested we swap seats so they could sit beside one another. Nope, they said they’d rather sit by a ‘lady’ than their buddy. Awesome.
I was cordial at first – smiling and nodding in all the right places, but after constant conversation an hour plus into our trip, one would think that if I kept trying to put my headphones on to watch the movie or started closing my eyes to get some sleep - you would stop talking to me. I wasn’t trying to be rude, but some people don’t know how to take a hint.
It took great effort for me to keep my sanity and to not tell these two ultra talkative Vancouverites to shut up. I like conversation; in fact I usually welcome it as I enjoy getting to know new people. But when a stranger who is seated thisclose to me for half a day starts getting personal and inappropriate, that’s where I draw the line. I’m not interested in sharing the intimate details of my life, especially with someone who is unfamiliar. In fact, it makes me uncomfortable and I find it impolite. Thankfully, I survived the flight, but was none too happy. I felt accosted and now realize I should have said something to a flight attendant when it was occuring. I’m anything but passive, but for some reason I let these guys get out of line with me. That won’t ever happen again.
After surviving subsequent flights to Lisboa and then Madeira without trouble, I am now settled back on my island in the sun for another 4 months. Though I’m again staring out onto the brilliant blue of the Atlantic, enjoying the sunny 18°C weather rather than the freezing negative temperatures and snow – I miss home. Over my break I had a wonderful Christmas with my family, caught up with and made new friends in Vancouver, traveled to Seattle to watch my alma mater play, reminisced with American friends, while also reuniting with my bffs ☺ for New Years. Kara, Kat, Kay and I spent the last moments of ’08 at the Seattle Aquarium on Pier 59. It was a great way to ring in 2009.
This week is going to be crazy. We have games Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday. Dani (my American teammate) is out for probably another 3 weeks. She got an MRI while home over the break and found out she has a stress fracture in her leg. Eeek! Hopefully it heals quickly, because we need her out there on the court!