I just flew in from Seattle and San Francisco and boy are my arms tired.
From writing letters, that is.
Letters to the Chief Customer Service Officers.
After a longer than expected flight -- aren't they always?-- I checked into the Holiday Inn in SF. Not my first choice in hotels, but the client was paying for it, so I had no say in the matter. I was assigned room number 2606, on the top floor of the building. Normally that would be a good sign because I don't like having guests in the room above me, as I am abnormally noise averse.
Even as I write this in the relative early morning silence of my home I am wearing my trusty Bose Quiet Comfort 15c's, the state of the art in noise canceling technology.
Also, through years of traveling experience and because I married a smart woman, I know not to accept any hotel room number that ends in 1 or 0, as those are the shitty rooms wedged between the wonky ice making machines and the elevators. Well, the folks at Holiday Inn didn't get the room numbering memo and as you can see from the chart affixed to the back of the door -- yes I took a picture of it -- my room, 2606, was located next to the elevator shaft.
The astute among you will also notice that it is adjacent to TWO elevator shafts!
If ever an infographic summed up my life, this one would win the prize.
Moreover, when I went downstairs to the front desk, the clerk mentioned that many top floor residents are bothered by the industrial HVAC equipment located, you guessed it, on the roof. Directly above the ceiling which is apparently made of the same rice paper thin material used to separate the rooms in the hotel. (Dear Guest in room 2604, I hope your nagging productive cough clears up very soon.)
At 1:39 AM I found myself schlepping all my stuff to a new room on the 7th floor, a room as my luck would have it and I deduced from the residue fumes, had just recently been painted.
End of travel nightmare story, right?
On the last leg of my trip, I boarded an American Airlines flight, also delayed, and took my aisle seat. It was one of those new 737's with the electrical outlet and a decent amount of leg and hip space. But all those creature comforts vanished in a nanosecond as I noticed a large-ish couple making their way to the back of the plane.
As if there were any doubt, they were assigned to the middle and window seat right next to me. Look, I'm a fat, fattish, guy and don't like to participate in fat shaming. But I'm going with executive privilege much the way African American people are permitted to use the n-word or Jews are allowed to make jokes about Treblinka.
This guy was huge.
I'm no Midway carnival weight-guesser, but I'd say he was well north of 400 lbs. And as Siegel fortune would have it, he opted not for the window but for the middle seat. Next to me. As I was texting my wife about this invasion of my personal space, she requested a picture. So I nonchalantly put the phone in my lap and surreptitiously grabbed a snapshot.
I'm not sure the picture does it justice.
There was so much of this man, he could not bring his arms down onto the armrest. How awful it must be to go through life in such an uncomfortable body, I thought. Just as I was starting to feel sorry for the man, the flight attendant with the snack cart came by. He had the turkey sandwich platter. And for good measure had another one.
I went to the bathroom and when I got back I noticed my cheap styrofoam pillow was gone. I'm pretty sure he ate that for dessert.
When we got to the gate, I took advantage of my aisle seat location and bolted for the exit door. As fast as one can possibly bolt from a fully-loaded 737 plane that is. Considering how difficult it was for the man to wedge himself into the seat, I couldn't imagine how hard it would be for him to get out.
They either used the Jaws of Life or lubed him up with those little pats of butter, for which the airline now charges an additional one dollar fee.