I Have Seen the Devil

The mistress of travel has not been kind to me. Although there were minimal delays this trip back to Valencia from Portland, mostly because American Airlines wasn’t involved, her twin demons, Jet-lag and Chatty Seat-mate, did their worst. I knew I should have taken the paid Business Class upgrade when it was announced in Seattle. But I thought ‘I don’t need more than Premium Economy. I still get the foot rest and the better reclining seat and I’ll just sleep.’ But it was not to be.

I have met the devil and her name is ‘Janice’, as I came to intimately know her. She would thwart my sleeping plan. Suddenly the seat I was in didn’t seem so ‘Premium’ after all. And to make it worse I could see through the little curtain at what I could have had. Like the guy in college you broke up with for having no focus or drive, who becomes a hedge fund manager and has a house in the Hamptons. You could have had that – you say to yourself. But not this time.

There are no ‘do overs’ once you’re on the plane. I probably should have just gone up there and sat down. But since business class had like two people in it they would have noticed. Janice made me almost risk it. She was a walking human rights violation half way across the Atlantic. It was torture sitting next to her complete with the sleep deprivation, incessant talking and her bladder the size of a walnut. Up, Down, Up, Down. I almost asked her if she thought she might want to have her prostate checked.

And before we took off, her personal flight preparation routine was pure Broadway. She nearly did a full outfit change into pajamas, right there in her seat. But for what? She never slept. And as a result neither did I. Before that final layer, I became well acquainted with her elbows as she struggled into her nearly full body compression suit – ‘So I don’t get a DVT. You know what that is, right?’ After I said I did she proceeded to tell me anyway. In detail. There were images on her phone of it. Yummy. Couldn’t wait for them to serve my dinner.

We’re hours into the flight and I’m wondering if there might be a way to jump out of the plane after I hear ‘We really are sisters from another mother’ for the 100th time. I don’t drink alcohol on flights (dehydration) but when they passed around the free champagne at the beginning I already knew I would need to partake based on the sound of her voice penetrating my noise cancelling headphones. I’ll be asking Sony for a full refund there. ‘Janice mode’ should be mandatory from now on.

So I didn’t sleep and I’m not a good person when I don’t sleep. Ask Jeff. I’m essentially a toddler. There will be whining and eye rubbing. Maybe some tears. And if low blood sugar is involved it will be 10 times worse. I need to be carried in an adult Baby Bjorn. Lucky for him he’s still in the US. Although if he had been with me we would have been sleeping in our pods in Business Class. He would have just laughed at me saying ‘I’ll be fine in Premium Economy’ and gone up and made it happen.

Once you get off your international flight at Heathrow they make you go through security again. Like I was a safe bet with my carry on for 9 hours previously over an ocean. But now, suddenly, I’m at def-con 10 as a risk to myself and others. And the Heathrow TSA is the worst.

They confiscated some of my finer hair products that were just fine to go through security in the US. But in the UK – danger, danger! And the British TSA guy took my bamboo tooth brush out of the bag and put it in the tray unprotected. Like I’m going to want to put that in my mouth ever again. I read somewhere that airport security trays are dirtier than a toilet.

I usually keep my frustration in check over travel security. They’re doing a tough job. But lets be real folks, I just flew there with all that stuff over Iceland. The last hour and a half flight to Valencia is hardly the biggest risk we all have faced. And I’ve been with ‘JANICE’!! I wanted to yell at this guy.

‘I’ve just rode 7000 miles with the largest sack of compressed security risk known to human kind. I actually considered opening the door and jumping out. Or throwing her out. Confiscate her next time, why don’t you? Not my wonderful Root Boost. Practically essential for living in humidity!’

I did get a little testy with him. He explained that the US TSA is ‘perhaps not as thorough as those in the UK.’ Which got my back up a bit.

‘Yeah. Well you have Boris Johnson as your Prime Minister. So I’d say your security isn’t better than ours. I’ve seen his nightmare birds nest hair. Maybe you’re hoarding foreigner’s premium hair products for him.’

Yep. Like I said, pure toddler. I’m not proud of it. I took a deep breath. Soon I will be able to hear the ding of the bells of the tram, since it runs just a few blocks from the house. And the lovely church bells from the square in Benimachlet. Sleeping in my own bed with no Janice in sight. I’ve found my smile again. Only a few hundred more miles to go.

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