When the pilot turned the seat belt sign off, the other passengers jumped up like a pack of hungry lions attacking their prey, thrashing and roaring like the beasts they were. They flashed their sharp teeth to scare the benevolent little ones.
One older gentleman leapt from his chair like a cheetah on steroids. Everyone started to talk louder and the noise became unbearable. I put my engaging book down and took in the scene. I reminisced about my two hours of hell and how it all started.
I sat down and didn’t say much. The middle-aged man next to me was battling what I think was narcolepsy and cold sweats. When he wasn’t zoned out, he fidgeted frantically, trying his hardest to get his overstuffed bag onto his lap.
When I first sat down, it looked like he was reading a magazine filled with little pictures of knives and guns. That made me a little nervous. I realized later, after my eyes started to hurt from looking sideways to see what he was reading, that he was actually taking some sort of test to become a home decorator. The knives were tools for plastering. There weren’t really any guns after all. The cold sweats continued.
The three women in front of me had to be in their sixties. They were loud and obnoxious and anyone listening to their conversation would think they were auditioning for Sex and the City 2: Nursing Home Edition.
The woman on my left was wearing beige clothing and bright pink lipstick. She kept turning around to talk to the man behind her, who I assumed was her husband.
She did what many people do when they first get on a plane, which is scan the local newspaper. Then she followed with People magazine, reading up on all of the gossip from the Academy Awards. Then, like all good Christians, she took out her Bible to see who Jesus sat next to at the Last Supper, what food was served and who got a little tipsy.
Both of my rowmates were nice though. They didn’t say much and they tried to leave room for me to sit comfortably.
A few rows in front of me were the snotty men and women. They were all dressed in business suits like they just came from a very important meeting. They looked me up and down as I walked through the aisle.
They spread out comfortably with their nice pillows and sheets while looking at their menus. They were later served Caesar salads, wine, vegetables and large portions of meat.
I was given two bags of pretzels. My water was served in a plastic cup with two ice cubes. I devoured the pretzels like a hungry raccoon, holding the bag close to my face. Normally, I only receive one bag. I should be happy the lady was feeling generous.
I kept looking up a few rows ahead of me, drooling at the gourmet meal being served to my obnoxious companions. All of them were laughing and having a great time. They had their own little trays and hot rags. I was given a paper napkin the size of a Wheat Thin.
The curtain separating first-class riders from the coach passengers was taken down to make all of the cheap, poor people feel even worse about their status in life. We all kind of shuffled our feet as we entered the metal death trap and held our heads low as we walked by those better than we are. I felt like I was walking a pirate plank, minus the eye patch and parrot.
I’ve never enjoyed flying. I have never sat in first class. And most of the three times I’ve flown, I was stuck in the middle seat, holding my breath and my bladder for the entire flight.
When flying, I am constantly reminded of that great “American Dream.” No matter how hard I work, I’ll never be good enough to sit in first class.
Charlie Eder is a sophomore majoring in mass communications and political science.