I’ve just boarded a 6 AM flight from Seattle to Newark. Do the math- if the flight is scheduled to leave at 6 am it means that I’ve been up since 3:30. You could imagine that I’m in a mood.
Just before takeoff I learn, against my will, that the young man sitting next to me is a student at U-Dub. That’s the abbreviation for the University of Washington that everyone in these parts thinks is so catchy. “Dub?” So now we’re too lazy to say a whole letter? It’s a single letter for Pete’s sake. I mean, I know today’s generation can’t communicate in phrases that exceed 140 characters in length, but this is one friggin letter.
Back to the youngster to my left. Seems he’s a sophmore who has a layover in Newark, on his way to visit a friend in Italy. That’s all well and good, but here is what I’m thinking as he tells me his life’s story. You have GOT to shut that window shade. It’s not quite 6 am yet and the sunlight is blaring in my eyes. Blah, blah, blah…exchange student I used to know…blah, blah, blah…a few miles outside of Milan…seriously dude, I don’t listen to my own college-age kids for this long. I don’t care about you and your roommate living in a hostel for a few weeks (just as an aside, didn’t you see the movie?) Just shut that shade before I go blind.
Eventually he stops talking. I think it’s because I started to close my eyes when he was mid-sentence. He does not, however, close his shade. I sat there quietly for a few moments, giving him a chance to come around. Maybe he’d notice that the rest of the passengers shut their shade. Maybe he’d heed the flight attendant’s announcement asking people to close their shades.
He doesn’t look like he has any intention to close it, however, because he’s staring longingly outside. What the hell is he looking at? We’re 33,000 feet in the air and the only thing he can see are mountain tops. Okay, maybe that was interesting for ten or fifteen minutes, but it’s been a half-hour already. You can lose yourself in thought by staring your tray table just as easily.
I’m waiting patiently for him to stop staring outside so I can tell him to close the screen. I’m trying so hard to be patient. Just stop looking out there for a second. Please. Truth is, I’m not so patient. On the outside I seem calm, but this kid doesn’t realize that inside my head I’m stabbing him in the throat. Seriously, what the hell is he staring at? Maybe he’s looking off into the distance and contemplating his existence. Yeah, my ass. He’s a sophmore in college- he’s probably contemplating beer. Dude, shut the window shade and let us sleep.
I waited for him to stop looking out of the window for just an instant. I was waiting for an opening to politely ask him to shut the shade. I was watching him peripherally like a hawk. About ten seconds later he turned away from the window, closed his eyes, and fell asleep. It all happened in an instant. All I could think was, OH HELL NO! The plane was as dark as the inside of a soda can, with one pinhole pierced in its side. And I was smack up against the light beam. Although I was impressed with his ability to fall into his REM cycle instantaneously, I woke his ass up and had him close that damn shade.