For those of you who believe in karma, jinxes, and the like, you might find corroboration as you read about my trip from Dallas to Denver. Hours ago, while sitting at the terminal in Frankfurt, I wrote about how air travel is generally pretty routine these days. It took the Hand of Fate a little time to find me, but somewhere over Greenland the pilot made an announcement that at the time seemed completely irrelevant: Our plane would be arriving in Dallas early. Since I had a very long layover in Dallas anyway, getting there early just meant waiting in an airport rather than sitting on a plane.
By the time we got there, I was very enthusiastic about the prospect of getting off the plane. I was sitting next to a toothless old guy from Bombay, which could definitely have been a lot worse. (For the record, Lufthansa’s veggie meals smelled pretty good, and Hindus can drink beer.) The infant two seats over was crying during boarding, but then clammed up for the entire flight. Still, ten hours is a long time to spend in any chair. Off the plane and through immigration quickly and over to the next terminal (with the help of one security guy who went way out of his way to direct me to Frontier checkin), I was in time to hop on an earlier flight from Dallas to Denver. It meant a longer layover in Denver, but it’s always better to grab the earlier flight if you can. As the guy checking me in said, “You never know.”
No, you never do. I settled into 16F, and it looked like I’d have the row to myself. Excellent! Room to spread out!
Just before departure time, a happy-go-lucky guy came bumping down the aisle and asked the attendant, “where’s 16A?” The blonde in 16B looked up in disappointment; she was already spreading out in her row. I got the feeling she was an airline employee of some sort. Much to her relief, he did not sit in 16A, but chose 16D, on my side of the aisle instead. He sat heavily and I realized just how drunk he was. He looked over at me and said, “Dude, I’m just going to fuckin’ apologize right now. I’m fuckin’ wasted. Am I saying fuck too much? This is like your worst fuckiin’ nightmare, isn’t it?”
It wasn’t… yet.
He talked at me for a bit. It turns out he’s a rancher from Wyoming who supplies horses to rodeos. His problem these days, he says, is that his horses are too mean for the new generation of cowboys. He paused at one point to say, “Are we off the ground yet? Good. I can’t get arrested and thrown off the plane. I’m just this side of alcohol poisoning.” Throughout our discussion (he was just as interested in me as he was in telling me about himself), he said, “Just remember the code word. ‘shut the fuck up motherfucker.’ I can’t believe you haven’t used it yet.” The thing was, I was a bit curious about raising horses for rodeo. Eventually, however, I did invoke the code word and a he lapsed into silence. The attendant comped him free access to the directTV broadcast on the screen in front of him, and he lapsed into semi-consciousness.
We were on the ground here in Denver, taxiing to the gate, when he puked. He pulled out the air sick bag in front of him and filled it, and then some. Then he had trouble sealing it up. The blonde across the aisle and I offered supplemental barf bags at the same time. “Double-bag it,” the blonde said helpfully, but our cowboy just didn’t have the motor skills. He looked over at me.
“Almost made it,” I said, as the fasten seat belts sign turned off.
“Almost,” he agreed, then rose from his seat and fled in shame.