24 August 2006

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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14 Comments:

At 8/25/2006 12:29:00 AM, Blogger barista brat said...

do you ever wonder if those unpunctuated chatterers have friends who are also unpuctuated chatterers?

i wonder if there's a word for a conversation between two unpunctuated chatterers.

my word for it is "hell".

 
At 8/25/2006 12:38:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

LOL, Brat! I think you nailed it.

 
At 8/25/2006 07:59:00 AM, Blogger Dale said...

I feel for you Beth, somehow you managed to get the seat usually reserved for me.

The only kind of unpuncutated talk I ever enjoyed was:

Say well
Hi there
What's your
My name is
And my wife is at the PT and
I had to
You know we could
I buy you
Is that a Scotch and so a
What will it be
Your place
Or a place to

Say man
What do you think you
See I'm not that kind of
Affair is fair
And right is
Right around the corner
Just a block or
So you know come morning
You'll have to leave
Everything to me

--Lyle Lovett & Francine Reed in What Do You Do / Glory of Love

So if they're sitting with me? Cool! Anyone else? If you must speak, watch it, I've got a keyboard and I ain't afraid to use it.

 
At 8/25/2006 08:03:00 AM, Blogger OnMyWatch said...

maybe the *run-on* sentence should be changed to the *run-on and leave me alone* sentence.

:)

 
At 8/25/2006 06:52:00 PM, Blogger Coaster Punchman said...

You must be too nice, Beth. People never bother me on planes. If they ask me a question or make a comment, I give monosyllabic answers and continue reading my book. It probably also helps that I look like an axe murderer.

 
At 8/25/2006 08:13:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

DALE: I'm thrilled to see you quoting Lyle and Francine. You should consider a trip to Atlanta to see one of Francine's caberet shows.

ONMYWATCH: I wish I could have said that to her ...

COASTER PUNCHMAN: I am too nice. Something seemed a little ... off about her, so I felt bad being mean. Maybe I should develop my own axe murderer look.

 
At 8/25/2006 09:23:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

I insist that CP show us how to do the axe murderer face. Sadly, I despise the people but then am too nice to channel my inner jerk.

I love the idea of a run on and leave me alone sentence!

 
At 8/25/2006 09:24:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

Maybe CP can show us how to do the axe murderer face AND tap dance -- at the same time!

 
At 8/25/2006 11:21:00 PM, Blogger Writeprocrastinator said...

Well, in my case, I can hit them with the "I'm going to bring the pain like a whole squadron of Mike Tysons and Marquis DeSades" -look.

Since that probably won't work for you, I again, suggest that you use a Super Soaker full of ink. No one can take the octopus drive-by.

 
At 8/26/2006 02:14:00 AM, Blogger Old Lady said...

I have had that issue from time to time but I think I hate the spreader outers more.

 
At 8/26/2006 05:29:00 AM, Blogger Ben Heller said...

What a scary flight ! I bet you ran off that plane. If there's one thing I can't stand it's people who like to hear the sound of their own voice and talk incessantly on flights.

 
At 8/26/2006 08:21:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

WRITEPROCRASTINATOR: I really need to pick up a Super Soaker, don't I?

OLD LADY: Oh, I can be mean if someone invades my space. I can't be mean to lonely weirdos, though.

BEN: My mom and I actually laughed about it a lot post-flight. I started talking without punctuation just to make her laugh ... always about bringing a jacket to San Francisco.

 
At 8/26/2006 09:16:00 AM, Blogger Coaster Punchman said...

Oh, I hate the spreader-outers too. I have a whole list of secret etiquette rules, in my head, for when you are in a three-seater with an empty seat between you. The primary rule being that you don't automatically get to fill the seat AND the floor space with all your shit without, at the very least, a precursory request for permission. If people do that I just start putting all my shit right on top of theirs. When they protest I say "Oh, I'm sorry, did you need ALL of our extra space?"

Don't ever underestimate the benefits of passive-aggressiveness. We upper midwesterners are experts at it.

 
At 8/26/2006 11:22:00 AM, Anonymous HollyC said...

But hey, did you buy any vitamins?
And here is a suggestion, next time take some spongey ear plugs, smile and say, "Gee, nice to meet you but- I was planning on some sleep on this flight" and put the ear plugs in, then read your book. I guess if you were traveling with your Mom, you could have plugged the Shaklee side only....
I always travel with earplugs, especially if I'm staying in a hotel

 

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