Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The Truth About Travel

So I'm back in Switzerland, but you didn't think I'd make it here without a story or two to tell, did you? Because that's just not possible with me for I am the human equivalent of an ant trap: irresistible to problem pests.

It's true. How else do you think we ended up with Cosmo?

The travel day I just had was exactly twenty-four hours long as that's how long it took from when I boarded my plane in Kamloops until I finally opened our apartment door in Bern. The travel time is normally supposed to be sixteen to eighteen hours, including layovers, so needless to say when I got home I was essentially a cesspool of gross; in fact, I warned Dan that I was so gross he may not want to give me a hug or kiss. He proceeded with caution, but then basically tossed me under the shower in full agreement that yes, I wasn't at my best.

I should have known that the day wasn't going to go as planned when on my flight from Kamloops to Vancouver one of my fellow passengers said just loudly enough that in 'x' hours he would be lying butt cheek naked on the beaches of southern France. Oh yes he did. And he wanted everyone within the vicinity of 5A to 6D to know about his holiday plans because he mentioned this tidbit about three times before we took off. He was a nudist! Though obviously at that moment he was a fully clothed nudist. Yet it wasn't the idea of his nudey holiday that I found the most cringe worthy: it's how lame he was. Oh great, you're holidaying in the nude so that means you probably don't have to worry about suitcase weight restrictions like the rest of us; how fab that you don't have to spend time planning what outfits you're going to wear. Good for you. But in the meantime, do us all a favour and just be cool about your plans because a plane full of strangers really doesn't care that you're going to be nude in France (isn't Europe just one giant nudist colony anyhow?), the fact is we're just embarrassed by your social awkwardness: we've all seen HBO dude, none of us care you're going to be naked on a beach. Stop trying to shock us. It's weird.

So yes, Neil the Nudey was an interesting way to start the day, but the guy on my Toronto flight who told my seatmate to pee her pants because he wasn't going to get up to let us into the aisle was the real charmer. The girl and I exchanged a glance and whispers of "whaaaat?" before I rested my forehead on the window and felt a wave of exhaustion roll over me. Where have all the normal people gone? I know you travel because I've met you before, but why are you never sitting next to me on planes?

Why?

When I landed in Toronto I had to book it to my connecting gate, but the trouble with trying to book it through a Canadian airport is it's full of Canadians:

"Oh gosh, go ahead. Please, I insist."

"Oh I couldn't, you go ahead please. It's alright, I can wait."

"Are you sure? I don't mind, please go ahead."

"Really?"

SHE'S SURE. SOMEONE JUST MOVE OR LET ME THROUGH.

By the time I reached my Zurich departing gate, I was a sweaty and late mess. Good thing the plane was just being announced as delayed by an hour. Then that hour came and went, and we were allowed on the plane.

Then we sat in the plane for an hour and a half.

Then we had to get off.

At this point it was 11 p.m. in Toronto, and we were delayed three hours while they tried to fix a circuiting issue with the plane. In an effort to keep us passengers from loosing our mother effing minds, the airline told us to present our boarding passes at Tim Hortons to get ten dollars worth of food.

How nice.

An entire jet load of people standing in a line-up waiting to be served at a restaurant chain notorious for its extravagantly slow customer service. I stood in that line for two hours, and I was lucky to have even been served. A lot of my fellow passengers never even got any Timmy's before they were calling us at 2 a.m. to reboard the plane.

By the time we boarded, I was done.

Originally I was supposed to be seated in the middle of the plane next to a family of three, but I spied two unoccupied seats and like a wolf snarling over a kill, I snapped at the ankles of anyone who was eyeing up those seats and claimed them as my own. Then like a total a-hole I stretched out and kicked off my shoes.

My London funk shoes, which are still extremely funky.

But I did not give a damn. I was tired, homesick, and my heart was racing from having consumed a large iced cappuccino in under three minutes. I spent the entire flight reclining my seats, putting them in the upright position, reclining them again, tossing and turning like an alligator in the throes of a death roll, and kicking around my blankets and punching down the provided miniature pillows, hoping to make them comfortable. To put it mildly I was totally annoying and I think the people behind me hated me.

Then when I hit Bern it was to discover I was arriving in the midst of rush hour traffic, but do you think I paused a moment to take a breath and try and behave like a normal human being? I did not. I wheeled my suitcase over people if they got in my way, I wouldn't move for a mother pushing a baby carriage, and when I got off the bus at my stop I straight up pushed my through a pack of teens who were loitering around and were probably up to no good anyhow.

I was one of them.

I was a sweaty, stinky, socially deranged freakshow.

Everyone says travel opens up your mind. That it makes you a better a person. Those are all lies. I think holidaying does the above, but travel does not. The only thing that travel does is make you extremely annoyed with your fellow man, and likewise extremely annoying, and the problem is when you short circuit, you can't take a three hour delay where spa technicians get to massage the problem away.

You have to keep moving.

But people in front of you won't want to keep moving.

And people behind you won't get served any Timmy's.

And your seatmate would rather you pee your pants than have to stand up.

And someone in your vicinity will just want to be nude.

And you just want to be at home.

And you won't be able to take it anymore.

So you short circuit and just think, "Whatever, I DON'T CARE ANYMORE. I won't see these people again. I'm going to be a d-bag who hogs seats and lets her stinky feet hang out, gassing everyone around me. I'm going to be a jerk who has two suitcases so thinks it's okay to not move out of the way of a mother pushing a baby stroller. I. don't. care."

And then your fellow passengers will go home and write in their diaries or on their blogs about the insane woman with the gross feet who was in the seat in front of them, who whipped her chair into the reclined position while they were still eating dinner. Damn it! Where are all the normal travellers? Where? And why are they never seating in front of them on planes?

And the person beside that person will go home and tell her grandkids about how loudly the guy beside her played his music through his headphones and she doesn't understand why people need to listen to music that loudly. Isn't he worried about going deaf? Where are all the normal travellers?

Etcetera, etcetera.

The truth?

There are no normal travellers.

Only pissed off pilgrims just trying to get where we need to go.

We'll be nicer tomorrow when we're lounging by the pool sipping pina coladas or after we've woken up in our own beds.

It's best if you get to know us then.

3 comments:

mom said...

Glad you are home safe and sound Miss Cait :-) What a harried trip home!

Habebi said...

Ohhhhhh that sounds like my trip home back from Japan, but, no free food was involved. It's bad when you hit the "I don't give a fudge' stage!! Glad you are back and hope you get lots of rest and plenty of piña coladas. ;)

Anonymous said...

Glad you're home safe and sound! Talk (aka e-mail) to you soon!!!
Jana