World War III: The Fight for the Armrest

Recently I flew from Denver to Washington, DC to return home from working out west for a week. While I opted to not take a red eye (though my flight left at 9 am… which is rather early when you add in the security time, the travel time from Fort Collins, and the time needed to mainline some coffee to make it through this ordeal), this flight still came with its fair share of difficulties. First and foremost, TSA in Denver Airport is more or less an extension of Virgil’s Aeneid. That comparison is in no way supposed to insinuate that I read the Aeneid… I sparknoted the crap out of that. But I would imagine that lines full of individuals with no real understanding of TSA protocol, regardless of their frequency of flying is similar to what Virgil was writing about. My question is, why is that, even though there is a clearly a Priority security line for people that know what they’re doing, I will always be in the slowest possible line? The only redeeming factor is seeing these gentleman who barely are capable of separating themselves from their iPhones standing in a line in Gold Toe socks and suits. It’s like a weird, grown-up version of preschoolers standing waiting in line for potty time.

I was blessed with a bulkhead aisle seat and was quite excited to get onboard, put in my headphones, and re-enter civilization 3 hours later when our wheels touched the ground. However I instantly saw the problem with my seat. As my seat was on the aisle of the first row I was “lucky enough” to be greeted by everyone as they entered the plane. This was done through their roller-bags rolling over my toes, their elbows hitting me as they passed, and the awkward looks saying ‘why is this guy already on the plane’. Now having an aisle seat, I immediately began praying to have no one seated next to me. That way I could have an appropriate, one-seat buffer between me and the stranger next to me. However I was blessed by having a lovely, overly-cologned man seated next to me. This immediately began the fight for the armrest. Now I am not as bold as some of my family members who will simply shove their arm on the armrest and not yield at all. I however have come up with a much more subtle way of doing it. I have learned that if you can synchronize your advances with your breathing then you can make a much more successful attack. This includes an elbow movement while “coughing” or taking a deep exhale that happens to make your shoulders expand a bit.

Now once we got off the ground we began the arduous task of the “complimentary beverage service”.  While this, when said in the slightly breathy flight attendant voice, sounds like a friendly gift from the airline, it is much more of a sad excuse for a thirst quencher. In fact it is much more of a teaser. It’s like the airline’s way of saying, “Are you thirsty? Well here is a small, thimble-sized beverage that is mostly ice. ” Also I witnessed a wonderful encounter between a flight attendant and a young gentleman attempting to steal miniature vodka and gin bottles from the cart. I can now say that air marshals are not the scariest things on planes… there is nothing more terrifying than a flight attendant who is angry on a 100% full flight and wants to reprimand someone. It’s like Ms. Trunchbull from Matilda… but at 30,000 feet.

Another interesting encounter was with the woman across the aisle from me. Now you always see these odd news stories of people clearly watching porn on airplanes or being asked to be quiet because they are audibly singing on planes… but this was a new one. The woman across the aisle was watching a video, sans headphones, on her iPad. AND NO ONE SAID ANYTHING. Now I enjoy a good Nicholas Sparks movie from time to time, I would prefer to not watch it with 150 of my closest friends. I wanted to go over to her and say, “Pardon me ma’am… do you not see that little hole on your iPad. It is so cool. You can stick headphones in it and then the rest of us don’t have to have your movie as the soundtrack to our flight.” I controlled myself by turning my headphones up… But I couldn’t help but feel bad for her because everyone in a 3 seat radius was shooting her dirty looks. All in all I spent the flight with a twisted spine attempting to stake claim to my portion of the armrest all while listening to my music and trying to be productive. There was a brief moment when I wished that TSA had stopped me and forced me to miss my flight just so that I could have not ended on the front lines of this war. Fight on soldiers… the end of the battle is in sight…


…sidebar: I don’t know if this is a real book, but I’m really hoping it isn’t (or maybe that it is because it would be an awesome White Elephant gift for the future)….