My opportunities to travel by air are rare nowadays, but my trip to and from Dallas last Saturday was a reminder that there’s nothing like an airport to provide blog fodder. I can’t think of many places where the people-watching gets any better.
Flying from and to Midland is always interesting because of the certainty of encountering a few people you know, and the likelihood of meeting someone you don’t. Saturday was no exception, as we visited with the following folks*:
- An oilman returning from his second home in New England
- The former head of Downtown Midland Inc. who is in the process of starting up her own educational resources business
- A mother and her adult daughter from Fort Stockton, heading for Dallas for a day of mall-crawling
- A Midlander who divides his time between family ranching interests in the Glass Mountains and a local prepaid legal services franchise. He was networking to beat the band, without much success. It was amazing to see how many people had somehow managed to forgot to bring any business cards with them.
- A physical therapist who tried to help me with some back pain some years ago
The configuration of Southwest’s new 757s has extended the people watching possibilities beyond the terminal. The slightly staggered row alignment now makes it easier to observe the people across the aisle without their knowledge, unless they have the peripheral vision of a chameleon or Marty Feldman. (One must, of course, be able to deal with the likelihood that one is also the subject as well as the observer.)
I took an aisle seat and was rewarded during the return flight by the opportunity to watch a gentleman doing battle with his MP3 player.
The fellow was obviously not in the primary “rip, mix, burn” demographic, appearing to be in his 70s, and he was not enjoying his digital music experience.
The cause of his vexation was a tiny Philips music player with a nice bright color screen. I watched him fiddling with the various buttons and scroll controls; every so often he would jerk the earbuds from his head, wrap the cord around the player, and hold it in his lap, apparently cogitating on his next move. He would wait a few minutes, then unwrap and replug and re-fidget. Occasionally, he would deal the player a hefty whack with the palm of his hand, as if to rouse it from a digital coma. (Personally, I admired this aspect of his troubleshooting technique.)
During his ceaseless inspection of the controls, he turned the screen toward me and I captured a mental snapshot of a portion of the content. The album that was queued up was by Jennifer Lopez. As the flight continued, I noticed that the display never changed…he was apparently in possession of a music player with a perpetual J-Lo setting.
I tried to intuit what he was thinking. “Pretty funny, those *(^*(& grandkids — giving me a music player with nothing but Jennifer Lopez on it. Just wait ’til Christmas; we’ll see who’s laughing then.”
As the flight progressed, he grew increasingly agitated, and I noticed that the screen never changed. I couldn’t decide if his ire was over the fact that the player contained nothing but J-Lo, or that it was frozen and he couldn’t listen to even that content. He finally wrapped the earbuds around the player and stuck it, screen still shining, in his shirt pocket, and went to sleep.
I now believe that he had managed to press the lock button that keeps most MP3 players from being inadvertently turned on or off. I hope he solved the problem by some means other than depositing it in the nearest trash receptacle upon exiting the plane. Although, if it really was perpetually stuck on J-Lo, that was probably the only reasonable solution.
*I could name all of these people — except for the therapist, whose name I’ve apparently blocked from memory — but I won’t, in respect of their privacy. But it causes me to wonder if there should be some kind of requirement for bloggers to wear special ID tags when traveling so that those around them will understand their peril.