Thursday, 4 September 2008

Travel tales

Travel stories. Everyone has got one (or several). It's not always obvious who has a travel tale and when they might share it, but there is something about airports that brings them to the surface.

I guess it's fair to assume that most people in airports are usually on their way somewhere or on their way back from somewhere. It's absolutely guaranteed that people on planes are heading somewhere. We can assume this because surely they wouldn't be on a plane if they weren't intending to travel? (Let's not think maniacal thoughts here.)

So why is it that, almost every time I check in for a flight, I'm allocated a seat next to a 'talker', ie someone who thinks I need to hear their travel (life) story/ies? Do the computers see my name scan in and think "ahh, I have the perfect seat buddy for you"? Don't get me wrong ... sometimes I don't mind at all. It's just something about it being implied that, because I am in a plane, I must be wanting to know why the person next to me is, too. It's ok - you don't need my permission or have to justify why you're there; I don't mind at all!

Think about it this way ... I regularly go to the supermarket; most of us do. We go there for food, because we either need to cook it or eat it. But, do we feel the urge to tell the person next to us in the fruit and vege section why we are selecting carrots or mushrooms, share with others what we will have for dinner tonight as we peruse the frozen food selection, or confess that we haven't actually cooked since 2006 and are a bit nervous about being in a supermarket after all this time and therefore can't wait to get out of there? ;-)

As I commute between Wellington and Christchurch every now and then (like today), I feel a mixture of intrigue and jealousy when bumping into former colleagues who inform me they are en route to Italy for five weeks instead of work for two days. (I wish her a great trip; really I do.) I can be moderately interested what rural folk who are leaving their farms for the first time in 12 years to fly to the big smoke and attend a farming convention have to say about city life. I try to sum up my job for those who are insistent enough that they do want me to explain what I do, even though they only asked in the first place to be polite, and when the reality is that even my poor mother has no idea what to tell people. (Doesn't that sound dodgy?) Heck, sometimes I can even provide reassuring comfort for nervous flyers.

BTW, I like the generic understanding which exists between early morning commuters, ie if the person next to you looks even remotely blurry-eyed, leave them in peace. I just wish cab drivers would pick up these vibes sometimes.

Ah well. We'll see who I end up sitting next to when I go home tomorrow night. Flying stories always different on Friday nights; they're told by people who are either really excited to be going out of town for a weekend, or those who are looking forward to going home after their working weeks. I'm usually one of them.

So, what are your travel stories?


Donna said...

I always make sure the hubby is the one sitting in the middle so I can sleep so it's he who get's the brunt of those travelers. Now he can tell you some stories. For now, I am sticking with my ipod and window seat!! Let us know how your flight is tomorrow though!

Arual said...

I think the reason people chit-chat on the plane is because you are sitting together for at least an hour. It's different than a grocery store where you grab and go. I don't mind chatting with people on the plane because you can meet someone really interesting or learn to look at things in a new way. Your friends were strangers until you decided to talk with them and you never know when a stranger may become a new friend. :)

Sab said...

I've only been on a plane for two trips... the first was our honeymoon (apparently it was obvious and we were left alone, lol) and the second was this spring. I was pregnant (still am, lol again) and very uncomfortable on the flight. Again, left alone. Maybe travellers from Canada aren't as talkative? Or maybe I need to sit next to farmers... (smile).

Café Chick said...

I'm sitting at the airport, waiting for my flight home (which has already been delayed by 15 mins). I wonder who my seat buddy (or new friend?) will be today. :-)