Woes at 35,000 Feet

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a transatlantic flight in possession of two hundred or so disgruntled passengers must be in want of a single shrieking child.

Be forewarned: the following is a decidedly first-world-problem post. Although I am privileged enough to have the good fortune of taking transatlantic flights, I do not belong to the lucky sector that own private jets.

Unanswered questions from a small metal tube hurtling through the upper (ish) atmosphere:

  • The woman sitting directly behind me racks with coughs every few minutes (I fear a chunk of phlegm - or even her very lungs - may generate just enough force to shoot through the thin economy seat and attach itself to the back of my neck), then asks a passing flight attendant about the selection of duty-free cigarettes available. Do I point out the irony?
  • I face a constant moral battle when, inevitably, the person (demon?) in front of me reclines their seat to the farthest position possible. Do I, too, cross over to the dark side to torment the traveler behind me, or do I continue to exist in quiet, infinitely frustrated agony within my six (or so) square inches of space?
  • As I pass the time reading High Fidelity, watching the first half of some new hostage movie, playing Sudoku, and listening to the newest installment of the podcast Serial, I become increasingly aware of all of my slight discomforts. I recall all the ragged coughs I've been forced to listen to for the past four hours and the fact that the germs they released are probably still floating around. A quick attempt to steer my thoughts in some or direction leads to the remembrance of the constant, dull ache in my neck. What's the worse thought?
  • I sit writing this at approximately 4 AM Ireland time. I can't fall asleep, but I also shouldn't encourage my brain to be quite this alert. Then again, sometimes one's most interesting thoughts emerge in the darkest hours. Do I pull my first real all-nighter or simply exist in the awkward limbo between consciousnesses that accompanies mild insomnia?
  • The flight attendants served ice cream, drinks, and water bottles to every row in front of me, then never remembered to come back for us. I dream of raspberry sherbet and cold "complimentary" milk. I ask a flight attendant for said milk. She never returns. Between this and my personal screen completely shutting off halfway through the flight, could this be the worst customer service I've ever had?

Then, after silently voicing all of my complaints to a glowing screen, I remember that, on the other side of these hours of claustrophobia and swollen feet lie the Emerald Isle and an infinitely better stretch of hours than these.

Elena

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