Sunday, November 20, 2011

On the road again: Houston, day 1

What is it with me and row-mates on flights? Today's flight found me on an airline with which I have no privileges but in an exit row window seat--not ideal, but pretty darn good.

An older couple were seated next to me, man on the aisle, woman in the center.

The woman's right arm was sprained and heavily bandaged. When the flight attendant came for the mandatory "can you open the emergency door?" question, the woman hid the bum arm under a jacket and lied that she could open and remove the emergency exit door should the need arise. I didn't call her on it because I was right next to the door, and I'm damn sure her arm wouldn't slow me.

The moment we took off, she and her husband brought out the snacks. A few seconds later, she started elbowing me in the ribs.

I moved as close to the bulkhead as I could and pulled entirely off the armrest.

She elbowed me some more.

I put my arm between us.

She pushed on it with her arm and elbowed it.

People have asked me why I don't verbally complain when these things happen. My answer is that nothing good comes of doing so and that I fear losing my temper. Recalling those questions, though, I decided to try today. I faced the woman and said, "Please stop elbowing me."

Her response: "Well, how else am I supposed to eat my popcorn and read?"

Her point was that with her hurt arm, reaching the popcorn bag between her legs meant her arm had to hit me.

I considered her answer rude and offensive, but I tried to rise above my initial reaction. I considered the question and after a few moments said, "I'm sorry for the difficulty, but I don't think it's reasonable that you keep elbowing me, particularly given that I'm as close to the bulkhead as I can be. Perhaps you could put down the book while eating the popcorn and hold the bag in your right hand."

She shook her head. "I don't like that. I want to read while I eat."

At that, she returned to her book and to elbowing me.

I stuck my arm between us and let her elbow it until she finished the bag of popcorn and took a nap.

I fought my anger the entire time.

The flight was otherwise good, though I greatly missed having an Internet connection.

After landing and getting the rental car, a process that is always slower than I like, we successfully navigated to our hotel. The bandwidth here is great, the best I've had this year from a hotel--and this is the least expensive hotel at which I've stayed for business. Bandwidth is frequently and frustratingly in direct inverse correlation with hotel price.

Dinner was at a nearby Rudy's, which admittedly is a chain but quite a decent one. We enjoyed brisket and jalapeno sausage, both of which were yummy.

I'll be here only until tomorrow night, when I fly home, but any trip that includes Texas barbecue is already a decent one.

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