Airplanes. Don’t you love them. The fastest way to a destination.
But don’t you hate them when you fly economy class and they give you seats with leg space fit for a dachshund.
Airports. Don’t you hate them. The crowds, the lines, the waits, the schedule changes, the added expense for one more piece of luggage, the ubiquitous TSA security worker christened Pat Down.
As much as I enjoy the adventure of travel, the prospects of dealing with airports and cramped airplanes made me wish I were taking a train.
The flight from Denver to Frankfurt, Germany, on Lufthsana was about as bad as it could get. It was a long ride, the seats provided no decent leg room, there was only a community TV up above the exit to the restrooms, and the jerk in the seat in front of me decided to recline, pushing back in his seat. That put his balding head practically under my nose.
My knees were crushed, I could hardly move my feet, and I was considering a diabolical plan to sneeze generously on the bald head in front of me. If I would have brought along a small spray bottle, that could have worked well too under the guise of the sound of a manufactured sneeze.
You learn a lot about people when they become airplane passengers. In travel, as in anything, I like to follow the Golden Rule of “Treating others the way I would like to be treated.” That rule is difficult for people who tend to think they are the center of the universe or that, since they have paid for the flight, they think they deserve every luxury available.
Passengers are as diverse as bugs in a cornfield. Some are considerate. Some are selfish. Anyone who reclines in the airplane seat is part of the selfish crowd. Remember that the next time you fly and want to recline in a seat. If you intrude into another person’s “air space,” you’re thinking only about yourself.
As a companion for my trip, I fortunately took along a book. It was “The Amateur Emigrant,” an 1896 account by Scotsman Robert Louis Stevenson about his voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to America and then by train from New York to California.
Robert Louis Stevenson is an author best known for fiction, for one of my favorite novels “Treasure Island” and for the horror novel “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” He’s a great writer. His description is wonderful and even humorous. His insights are interesting.
One of the first books I ever received at Christmas time from my parents was a collection of stories by Stevenson. So, he’s been a favorite of mine and, in looking at his photo when he was traveling to America, he even looks somewhat like me—thin in build, with studious eyes, and, in being a writer, he is curious and adventurous, enjoying the circus of words and the art of storytelling.
As I traveled, I read about his travels, and it turned out to be a very good choice for a book. It certainly took my mind off the loss of feeling in my stiffening legs.