Man

Two Men on a Plane

Man 1

We boarded the plane. I was the very last to board, as usual, because I really don’t like standing in line. I really, really don’t like standing in line.

Why’s that?

Because I don’t like to stand.

I like to sit.

Being the first to board a plane means more time standing in line, waiting for the gate to open. That’s why I like to be the last to board a plane.

To get here, I had walked the entire length of the airport with no problems en route. Walking is fine with me; moving at a 60 foot per hour pace is not.

Think about it. Boarding first is great and all, but you stood in line for thirty minutes at the gate. Thirty minutes is a lot of standing for someone like me who likes to sit.

I’ve always been this way. When I worked retail – my first job in the 9th grade – the first hour of standing was a shock to my entire system. In my entire life, I had never stood for so long. Never in my whole entire life. I had walked, ran, played, but never had I stood stationary, like that first day on the job, miserably standing stationarily at a cash register. Forty-five minutes into that job, I thought, “this isn’t right.” About thirty seconds later, I found my boss and gave my two second notice. I quit, vowing I would never again in my life stand still for so long.

First trip to Europe, I noticed at the grocery check out that they sat. But no, we Americans have to stand. We have to stand all day long. Whether it’s that blue collar job, standing in line at Disneyland, or watching the parade pass you by among the crowd on the city sidewalk, it’s stand stand stand. No other country does this to its citizens. Not one. I’ve checked into it.

I know they say sitting is bad for your health. They also say a lot of things are bad for your health. At least, “they” believe those things. And who “they” are is whomever the mainstream contemporary science sages anoint as the seers of all human wisdom. Don’t misunderstand, I have a reasonable amount of confidence in modern science, except for that time when my doctor gave me advice to have surgery after which I got a second opinion from another doctor who, just like the first, graduated from an accredited medical school and, like the other, practices as a specialist in exactly the same field, yet who somehow proposed the complete opposite approach to solve my health issue. One chooses surgery, the other does not. One suggests heavy-duty medicine, the other herbs. One a cast, the other amputation. One proposes nothing, the other euthanasia. I have a genuine interest and trust in the human pursuit for good science. But I also carry a healthy amount of skepticism.

So I’ve read the articles: sitting isn’t at all good for humans. It takes years off your life, they say. It’s much better to stand, for your physical health and well-being, they say. But I don’t always do what is best for my health, I say. I do what is best for my mind.

You see, the body scientists don’t always factor in the best practices developed by the mind scientists. For me, the health benefits right there, on my decision where I opt for good mind science over good body science, is, for me, the better choice. And while this is by no means scientific, the skeptical part of me is reminded of the fact that my rear end is the fattest part of my otherwise lean body, so I’m inclined to think that the purpose of that fatty area is not to help support the human body in a standing position. It’s for sitting.

Which is why I am last to board a plane. I do it to reduce the time standing.

My seat was the never-coveted middle seat, way back on aisle 24. I sat comfortably. It was wonderful sitting there, staring at the backs of a hundred heads. For about 30 minutes, all was fine, all was normal. Then, all of a sudden, something happened in the row behind me. It happened directly behind me. It happened in the seat in the row directly behind me.

He began to snore.

It was a hearty, solid snore. It was as if, if he were awake, it was as if he was intentionally making pig snorting sounds. It was as if, if he were awake, his vocal chords were capable of producing an incredibly loud speaking voice. A voice so loud, very loud, or much louder than me. It was a manly snore. A confident snore. The kind one might engage in in a more private setting, such as one’s bed.

The woman in the aisle seat to my right turned around once, then twice, wondering who it was who could be making such a noise. The man in the window seat to my left also turned around. Both seemed so bothered by it, I wondered if either would get up to forcefully nudge the snorer awake. Neither did.

I’ve heard snoring on planes before. I’ve never heard snoring like this.

The snoring continued. It would regress to a heavy inhale, exhale. Then an aggressive violently loud full-fledged snore. The kind of snore that damages throats, that causes the non-viral kind of sore throat, the kind that causes throat cancer.

After a few minutes, sitting in sitting bliss, I would forget all about the snorer, because he stopped. He awakened, for all I knew. Until I again would be distracted by the noisy neighbor seated directly, as the crow flies, behind me. The one in row 25 and I was row 24. The one I assumed was a man because of the snorer’s subwoofer-like, subterranean-tectonic-plate-moving quality snore. The one who was tearing apart his throat and the ozone simultaneously, shredding both to pieces with each passing CO2-emitting snore. Would he ever communicate verbally again? The one whose snores were louder than any I had ever heard on any plane in my lifetime?

The snoring continued, off and on, for hours. And hours. The man could snore AND quite remarkably sleep through it all.

The rumbling, steady roar of the plane engine would be silenced by another Snore. A Snore with a capital S. This kind deserved to become a pronoun. It was alive.

The snore became white noise for the plane engine. In the battle of noise, the snore won. We forgot we were flying on a plane. We were now flying on a Snore.

Again and again this continued. And again and again and again. It wouldn’t stop. Passengers became irritated. The irritated became anxious. The anxious became furious and the furious went mad. Flight attendants began throwing pretzels around the plane. Movie watchers could hardly concentrate on their movie. Pilots rocked the plane to and fro in hopes that the passenger would finally wake up.

Throughout this peculiar scene, sometimes I would laugh. Sometimes I would get angry. But for the most part, I sat patiently, staring ahead, watching American Sniper through the two inch crack on the iPhone of the person in the row in front of me.

The snore made me consider myself. I’ve been told on many occasions throughout my life that I, too, am a snorer. Apparently, I snore. And when I snore, I do so loudly. I do the kind of loud that vibrates the mattress, floor, and walls – the kind that can be heard in other rooms.

Not only that, but I’ve even slept on plane rides.

Which means I could have snored loudly at least once on a plane. Possibly even twice. Who knows, I could snore every time I sleep on a plane. I’ve never been told by anyone after I awaken that I’ve been snoring. I don’t think I’ve ever been nudged. Fellow passengers may have let me snore away until I awakened, as we were doing for this man.

Which is why I lacked the moral authority to do anything about the snoring man in the seat behind me.

This snorer could have been me.

Maybe this man, I thought, like me, also likes to sit.

***
Man 2

I never know what to do because I care too much what other people think.

It’s time to end it. It’s time to not care what others think about me.

I just buckled my seatbelt on a plane and right this very moment I’m thinking of what to do next.

Suddenly, it hits me:

I could fake sleep.

I could fake sleep!

Why would I do that? What would that accomplish?

Here’s what it would accomplish: I would see if I could fake sleep in the most annoying manner possible and not stop based on the desires of the upset people around me.

In case anyone was looking at me, I thought it would be a good idea to make it look as believable as possible. As the plane lifted off, I pretended to fall asleep, because that is usually when I fall asleep for real.

I closed my eyes and then began to jerk my head from side to side in an effort to effectively and artfully get the right sleep “look.” By jerking my head from side to side, I wanted to show I was an energetic fake sleeper.

As soon as I was fake asleep for about two and a half minutes, I decided that fake sleeping wasn’t a problem. I would have to make some noise. So I begin to fake snore.

At first, no one seemed to notice, so I thought I would make more dramatic snoring sounds. I can be a loud person when I speak, and so I tried to snore as loudly as I possibly could.

Still nothing. I sensed no reaction whatsoever.

I thought I would try making a pig sound. I would make my snores more dramatic. I would “saw logs.” I literally made a sound of sawing a log.

I began to hear people whispering. I was getting their attention. The whispers turned to concerned voices. Concerned voices turned to yells. I was finally beginning to make a scene.

They wanted me to stop.

It was tormenting to not comply with their wishes. I wanted to stop so badly. I wanted everyone to be happy. I wanted everyone to be spared the pain of listening to my every snore.

I kept snoring.

Flight attendants were summoned. I kept snoring.

The flight attendants said they would wake me up, but they couldn’t touch me to awaken me. They couldn’t give me a nudge. Even if they did, I became more and more calloused to their wants, needs, and desires. I kept snoring.

The plane began to move back and forth, side to side. My snore must be penetrating the steel door separating me from the pilots, I thought. My snore could be interfering with the communications of the plane. I was becoming more determined not to be switched off to airplane mode. I kept snoring.

My snoring became snoring opera. I was performing a show of snores.

I could feel the thick emotional reaction from the crowd. They were all ears. I was all theirs.

“Sir, sir!” The flight attendants beckoned. I kept snoring.

“Wake up!” a toddler yelled from the back of the plane. Everyone laughed.

Others throughout the plane began to yell, “Wake up!”

After a few seconds, every passenger, in unison, began to chant: “Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!”

This went on for several minutes. It was remarkable. And they sounded great. But I ensured that my snore would carry above their chants. My snore dominated. It was the snore to rule them all.

I snored on for hours.

It was the last time I didn’t care what other people think.

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  1. Pingback: Podcast Episode 71: Two Men on a Plane | Josh Rolph

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