At Large Well, Hello There!
posted by May 21 at 12:07 PMon
You get on a plane, find your seat, and there’s an empty seat next to you—but not for long, because planes don’t fly half-full anymore. So the person sitting next to you shows up, takes his seat, then turns to you, sticks out his hand, and says, “Well, hello there! Name’s Bob!” I don’t like to touch people, as a general rule, and I try to touch as little as possible on airplanes, which are generally filthy, so I’m even less interested in touching people on airplanes. But social niceties obliged to shake Bob’s hand and introduce myself in return.
A connection thus established, Bob settled in for what he assumed would be a nice, long, five and a half hour getting-to-know-you conversation with his new best friend. But as soon as we were off the ground—as soon as we got the okay to use our portable electronic devices, by which time I knew more about Bob’s nieces and nephews than I know about my own—I put in my earbuds and turned up my iPod. Then I pulled down my baseball hat and pulled up the hood up on my sweatshirt. Unable to hear Bob, and with Bob unable to catch my eye, I read my magazines and answered emails in peace and quiet.
I didn’t want to have my hoodie up—it was hot on that airplane—and I didn’t want to listen to my iPod particularly. But as there’s no nice way to say, “Leave me alone, Bob, I don’t want to chat with you, I want to read,” I didn’t have any other options.