Reasons why I shouldn’t travel

Travel isn’t the best colour on me.
I don’t mind the airports because I enjoy watching people. I immediately conjure up stories for the sad or vacant face, for the muddy shoes beneath the well-pressed suit, for the madness behind women walking in shoes that resemble stilts.
I’ve noticed that very few faces rest with a smile posed, but rather tend toward a blank or even severe resting face, when we are lost in thought or concentrating on getting to where we are going.
Yes, I enjoy the airport part—the aimless strolling, the freedom to be invisible. I don’t, however, care for the confinement in limited space aboard an aircraft, where the space per person seems to shrink in proportion to the increase of the cost of air travel.
I’m not tall and yet I feel I am squeezed in; someone had to put his or her knee on my back to pop me into the seat. And that confinement tends to make me a tad grumpy rather than my usually friendly positive attitude on life.
I don’t welcome the obligation to make small talk when I’m clearly lacking that particular gene; the gene that would allow me to engage in chit-chat, to feign interest in those travellers who insist on reciting the details of their medical files, complete with each surgery they have endured from an appendectomy to a vasectomy and the private minutiae of their recovery.
I’m all for giving others a voice, to lending an ear, but I’m not sure I understand the compelling need for some to share to such a degree. And, alas, I seem to have a face that says come and sit beside me and talk until my ears bleed.
Another problem is that I’m a bit of a rule follower. I struggle to understand why the airlines impose restrictions on baggage stowed and/or carried on, but never enforce said rules.
So I carry on my adhering-to-the-rules sized bag and I check my suitcase, paying the applicable fee. I then am obligated to watch as my fellow passengers drag everything they own into the cabin, with six or seven bags slung across their shoulders, looking to find space in the overhead bins.
By the process of elimination, rule-followers like me who packed the bare essentials, having left my kitchen sink at home, are obligated to grin and bear it. But I’m not always a good sport despite my willingness to be such.
I tell myself I am not claustrophobic; chant the mantra in my head in the hopes the thought will stick and I almost can believe I am fine in small spaces.
I can fake it for three-straight hours of flying, but after that the game is a bit risky. I start to fidget and fret, my stomach starts to do the polka without the proper rhythm, and I seem to run an inventory of uncertainties through my head.
I am tempted to hurl myself, or the person sitting next to me, out the nearest emergency exit and face the consequences later.
When did I become so neurotic? The bad news: I’ve always been this way.
Small spaces and me are not good friends; we don’t get along even on a good day. And so to avoid confrontation with such an adversary, I limit interaction whenever possible.
I no longer play hide-n-seek crawling into the back of the closet or under the bed. I don’t join in with the mob mentality. I try to steer free and clear of any crowd.
Travel makes that strategy difficult at best.
I’m heading home from British Columbia now, with a very long flight ahead of me. I really hope I don’t do harm to anyone, especially me.
wendistewart@live.ca

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