Despite the jet-lag, it's good to be back in Germany. I hope I didn't bore you all to death while I was gone, and that maybe some readers are still hanging around here. And boy did I appreciate the comments you left knowing that I couldn't respond! Every now and then I'd get wi-fi and my emails would come into my phone and there were your kind words! *Ahhh*
Since I don't have any artwork to show you, I was thinking you guys might like a summary of the seatmates I had on the trip. I might start a journal just for flights and keeping track of the random people that cross my path in this lifetime. Wouldn't that be cool? Then again, if you were settling yourself into an airplane and the person next to you got out a book and started trying to connect with you it might seem a bit creepy. (Excuse me sir, can I take your picture? Can I trace around your hand in this book?) I can just see myself hoping for a middle seat because I could make two journal entries instead of one...
Well anyway here's a breakdown of the journey:
Frankfurt - Chicago and My New Friend Al
The best leg of the whole trip was right off the bat. I cannot write enough about Al! The ironic thing is that we were seated in the absolute worst possible aisle of the entire airplane. We were in a row of 4 seats directly behind a of row of 5. This means our feet had to straddle the legs of the chairs in front of us and our TVs were not centered in front of our faces. We got to watch our entertainment with tilted heads while trying to compensate for the glare.
Al was simply awesome. He hadn't been home to the US for 8 years. We didn't really interact at all in the beginning except I offered to give him the aisle seat. Of course he declined which was terrific news for my long legs. What I liked best about him was that he was such a good sport. When the flight attendant yelled at him for wanting sugar with his tea, he laughed. When the guy in front of me reclined his seat and I couldn't see my screen, he shared his. When he needed a pen for his customs form and I shook my giant bag full of art markers at him, he got the joke! And since Al was looking so sharp in his suit, a little boy in Chicago looked up to him and screamed, "Hi Obama!" and what did Al do? He took it in stride with a big grin. Then we erupted in laughter while I declared that the mother of that kid would be cringing for days. "But your mom is going to be so proud!" I told him, "small children confuse you for the president!" I was sad to part ways with Al and I really hope he had a wonderful time back home.
Chicago - Duluth and Princesses Self-Absorbo
On the second leg of the trip I found myself sitting in a tiny jet next to a woman who was completely disassociated with everything around her. I stood over her in the aisle while she wildly texted on her Blackberry. I had to ask her to let me into the window seat. Without looking up, she grunted some sort of acknowledgement and moved out of my way but not without tearing her eyes from her device. Before I had my seat-belt buckled, she switched over to an iPhone. Then as the plane prepared for take off she went through a ritual of gum, Bose noise-reducing headgear, and Kindle reader. 40 minutes later she reversed the order of the ritual and packed it all away. Before the wheels hit the tarmac she fired up both phones and was having a loud conversation before I could ask her to let me stand up in the aisle. She had no idea I had been traveling all day, she had no idea anybody else was really even there.
Duluth - Chicago and a Woman from Arkansas
The first leg of my return trip had me sitting next to an older woman for the short journey to Chicago. She was very upset that they had taken her hand luggage and really worried how and where she was going to get it back. I realized immediately she didn't fly a lot and using my most reassuring voice I explained that they would give it back to her at the gate. "Well they better!" she told me in such an accusatory way that I knew right then and there if I was somehow wrong she was going to open up a can of Arkansas whoop-ass on me that I'd never be the same again. That's what I get for trying to be nice. I made myself as small as possible while huddling next to the window. We mostly ignored each other for the rest of the flight until she started asking me about her connecting flight to Arkansas. Inside I was thinking, "Lady, I don't work here" but then decided to be compassionate and explain how to find her next gate.
Chicago - Frankfurt and the Odd Couple
The male half of the couple seated next to me on the last leg of the journey was a grumpy fella. The pair had such overstuffed hand luggage that he struggled to get it into the overhead compartments. This isn't normally such a horrible offense, but when you slam down the door so violently that I'm worried you've broken my laptop or camera, the window of opportunity for friendship starts closing pretty quickly. Plus, psycho behavior makes me scared in general. Then, when I tried to help his wife adjust the air vent that she couldn't reach, he rolled his eyes at me. That's right friends. The full cartoon eye roll. So it was official. I didn't like him. At all. Normally, it takes me years to dislike a person. But hey, there are always exceptions!
After a few hours I decided the woman was alright. She was German and returning for the first time in 13 years. I was impressed that she was so nice despite being married to such an adverse companion. She shed a few tears as we landed in Frankfurt and I was happy she was getting to visit her home. I hope she ditches her worse half somewhere in the Blackforest and abandons him to be eaten alive by gnomes.
In other travel related interactions
I thanked several soldiers for serving our country. I held and snuggled the world's heaviest Swedish baby and I discussed the perfect hand luggage with a lovely soft spoken woman named Beatrix. I learned how to speak Starbucks again, "tall-skim-mocha-no-whip, havea niceday!"
For kicks here's a shot of Al and me for you. My head looks gi-normous in this shot, but hey we're smiling which was no easy feat in our terrible seats...