The Unpunctuated Traveler
First in my San Francisco travelogue series
After the DC debacle, I was anxious about missing my flight to San Francisco. Add to that the new, more stringent screening process, and … well, we got to the airport about three hours before our flight. Check-in was a breeze. Getting through security? When one of your party has a knee replacement, you get to go to the front of the line. We passed the liquid test. Almost. I had forgotten to pull a tube of Neosporin from my baubles case, and it was tossed.
My regular readers know I’m a bit accident-prone, so it should come as no surprise that I have tubes of Neosporin stashed everywhere. In both medicine cabinets. My coffee table drawer and bedside table. The kitchen knife drawer. My makeup kit. In my car, at my desk, in every purse. There’s even a new travel pack I found in DC. That’s just how I roll.
I thought our carry-on bags would be searched again before we boarded the plane, but they weren’t. I could have smuggled Dasani and a new tube of Neosporin, dammit.
The plane was packed, and it was one of those three-across crafts. That meant someone would be sitting with us. Ugh. I’m a friendly person. I enjoy talking to new people, chatting up strangers. Except on planes. I’m not wild about flying, so I prefer to zone out and spend the flight in my fantasy world. Or laptop the hours away. Read, nap, listen to music. Anything to distract me from turbulence. Chatting with strangers does not distract me.
So I’m praying for a business traveler. A fellow flying hermit. Is that the neighbor I got? Of course not. I got stuck sitting next to a chatterbox, one excitedly headed to a Shaklee convention. But it gets worse, folks: She. Spoke. Without. Punctuation. A typical exchange:
How are you are you going to San Francisco too I’m going to the Shaklee convention are you it’s going to be chilly out there I brought a jacket your jacket is cute it gets cold there at night have you been there before I was there with my brother a few years ago we forgot our jackets ha-ha and had to go buy one it gets cold at night you know have you been to Alcatraz it’s really neat but its cold out there so be sure to take your jacket so have you been to San Francisco before ha-ha I’m going for the Shaklee convention they always have conventions at great places next year it’s going to be at a beach somewhere they’re teasing us with posters and will announce it at the banquet I’m really looking forward to the banquet the food is always good …
Behind my fake mannered grin I’m screaming, “Please, dear God, throw me a punctuation bone. A comma splice. Ellipses or a colon. Something to cause her pause so that I can break eye contact and slip into a numbing nap."
Always watching out for her firstborn, my mom caught wind of my hell (she, of course, was safely seated by the window) and started asking me lots of questions so that I could turn away. Unpunctuated conversation came and went. We got a reprieve during the in-flight movie. The unpunctuated one chose to watch RV (destined to be a comedy classic, I'm sure), while Mama and I instead played with the cute baby in front of us, read, napped, enjoyed the semi-silence.
Semi-silence? Yes, because Shaklee Sal had to talk to the screen. At full volume. Lots of “oh, no!” and “oh, dear” and “that’s so funny,” punctuated by loud, fake, attention-hoping laughter. Because Robin Williams movies are just that damn funny. As the credits rolled, I thanked God for letting me sleep just one hour the night before as I slid into a deep nap.
But as I faded into that nap, I couldn’t help but wonder if some consider me an unpunctuated chatterer …
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