Never fly in uniform. There are always other service members on the plane, and they think you are a tool. If the nature of your trip does dictate a uniform, so be it. Strangers may complement your servant’s heart, but they’re more likely to yak nonstop to Detroit about their obscure acquaintance who rode a few rough whitecaps as a merchant marine. And yeah, the uniform boards first. Rad. Enjoy trudging past the chambers of luxury to a preordained sardine can where you’ll now spend even more thanks to that expedited boarding. At my height, I do need a little time cushion to allow the stewardess to French-press my bones into a seat, but that’s just putting a bronze lining on a cloud. Just don’t wear the uniform.
Last flight I dealt with the nerve-racking purgatory that is sitting in an empty row. It’s a real treat if it lasts, but any initial delight soon withers into clammy apprehension if the dregs have yet to board. We all know the dregs. Normal people arrive on time so they can form a normal-person-phalanx and keep all the untouchables at bay. That the person who trickles into the plane ten minutes after Grandpa Amos hobbled by is never anywhere near the ballpark of normal. So let the parade of terror begin.
Leading the way in grand fashion – a bickering Lithuanian couple equipped with a fussing baby. By the grace of God alone do they slip past and continue into the next section of the aircraft, where they’re no doubt received with recoils of horror and a collective, bitter moan.
Hot on their heels, an aspiring sumo. He stops and studies his ticket intensely as I ponder hara-kiri. Several eons later, the massive man waddles away.
This continues like a fever dream, and I mop my brow with the in-flight dishcloth cleverly named a “blanket” as the misery continues: the unnecessarily strong guy with a goatee, ponytail-guy/reptile show organizer, Mr. Already Sweaty, and pretty much every variety of carnie. You’d think we were en route to a cheap Turkish circus.
Ultimately, the seats next to me stayed vacant, but the experience aged me to the point that it was hardly worth the stress.