I stand in the front galley facing the back of the plane as I peer out over the slack jawed faces and slow, heavy breathers. A sprinkling of heads are wrapped in company-made eye masks, distributed at the beginning of the flight and which feature assorted drawn on eyes, giving the effect of cartoon characters easily dozed among their real life counterparts.
The quiet redeye flight brings with it a wave of boredom, prompting my mind to entertain itself with random scenarios. I off handedly wonder how many animal crackers I could toss between the snoozing lips of the mouth breather three rows back, and if he would wake up or simply chomp down on the surprise treat like a bear balancing on a circus ball.
I make my way through the dark forest of slumberers to the back of the plane, careful not to trip on the tree trunks extending into the aisle. Having partially avoided working overnight flights over the last 6 years, I’ve recently softened on the idea of taking a single flight from the west coast east. The time change creates a sort of wormhole, popping me out on the other side 3 hours in the future.
These numerous visits through the wormhole have accelerated my life so many times that all of a sudden I’m a 30 year old who has worked the same job for six years.
“Those Doritos are staring right into my soul.” The flight attendant sprawled out on the jumpseat grabs the red bag sitting on the counter in front of her. She hesitates.
“If I’m shoving anything in my mouth it should be this over-achieving banana.” She slips an enormous banana out of her apron pocket and mimics shoving it into her mouth.
“Did you ever notice the air vents on these new planes look like nipples?”
She’s cemented the grotesque thought in my head, and now I will never again be able to enjoy a little air flow without the feeling that I am sexually assualting an airplane.
Soon, the sun rises through the small airplane windows, and with it rise the drugged and dragging bodies out of hibernation. The beasts are hungry and require sustenance in the form of potato chips and caffeine.
Later, our plane lands and I rush to the next gate to catch a ride home. My role is reversed and I now join the blurry-eyed grumblers filing in to a new air bus. Time comes to a screeching halt and I become an animated, sleeping version of myself. Hours pass before I can return home, where the comfort of familiarity waits to greet me.