Going Viral on a Plane

Airplane cabinDelta announced that the plane would be delayed even further so I was in a pissy mood, which was just where I needed to be emotionally for what was to come.

I’m often the rosy colored glasses type, but I could see my half day of vacation planned for Friday slipping away. The airport lacked the omnipresent power stations I was used to from MSP and so I couldn’t plug my computer in to get work done, which meant I would have to push it forward to the following day. I found some solace in the airline’s offer of a $6 meal voucher (which does not go far in an airport food court) and $50 in credit for a future flight.

I passed the time reading through old forum entries on the political Facebook group I co-moderate. The conversation reflected the broader stage of partisan politics with little to no effort to reach across the aisle or restrain each faction’s most vitriolic proponents and we were heading down a path to bannings or dissolution. I had formed it because I was tired of reading posts on Facebook from friends and family on the other side of the aisle and feeling the need to bite my tongue rather than correct or contradict them, but I’ve accepted that my Facebook profile is not the place for acerbic repartee.

So that was the miserable mood I was in when I got on the plane 4 hours behind schedule, mirroring for the most part by the rest of the travelers. As I approached my seat, I could see that it was occupied. An older couple had misunderstood the difference between D and F and I didn’t want to hold the rest of the plane up so I climbed over them and took the window seat. In the time that it took to seat the remainder of the plane, I fired off one last salvo to the group via my iPhone and then shut it off.

I usually fall asleep seconds before takeoff, but with the center light shining down on me, I couldn’t de-focus and with the glare I couldn’t watch the scenery below. The lady asked me if it was bothering me and I paused when responding, trying to put myself in her position and if I wanted to read, I would want the light on so I said something to the effect of “If you need it to read, then it’s alright.” I wound up catching about a 20 minute nap, but for the most part I spent the flight pondering the direction of politics and wondering what was being posted while I was untethered from the web.

As soon as the seat belt light went off, the people on the aisle were up and ready to move. The agitation was still palpable. I looked over at my neighbor and she didn’t seem to be part of the mob mood. There was a different posture and expression. My phone was back on and I saw that there were 2 replies to my post and I had just enough battery life to read them and respond, but I decided to wait.

“What’s wrong?”

“We were supposed to meet my son and his family at the airport, but they’re in bed now so we’re going to rent a car, and I’m worried about finding their place in Lakeville.”

I smiled as reassuringly as I could. “Don’t worry, there’s an app for that.” clicked on my navigation icon and asked her for the road her son lived on, then input that in as a destination. The route came up and I walked her through it step by step twice, discussing visual cues and where the on ramp would be. Her face brightened and I found myself mirroring that. I noticed a few people on the aisle taking notice as well.

“Thank you, very much.”

“No problem, ma’am. That’s what we do in Minnesota.” I beamed and watched the people in the aisle out of the corner of my eye to see if there were any knowing smiles. There were a few.

As the forward rows cleared, the gentleman stood up to get their bags, but instead one of the audience in the aisle stepped in and helped him out, eliciting sincere appreciation for the effort. Another couple was waiting in the row ahead of us to get back to their bags, so I asked them which ones they were looking for and another passenger voluntarily passed them up. I was still beaming as I de-boarded and all the way back to the car. It was still there when I woke up after four hours of sleep to go into work.

Doug via Compfight