The things you learn simply by listening and observing – on an hours long flight. It’s literally forced voyeurism. Between my love of solo travel and exploration, two daughters in colleges on opposite coasts, vacations and accompanying hubby on business trips from time to time, it’s safe to say I’m on a plane as many hours a week as many put in behind a work desk.
From the moment you board, you’re interacting with complete strangers. Not to mention entrusting your life to at least two of them – the pilots. You’re inadvertently touching, exchanging glances, conversing, breaking bread, helping place bags in overhead and sharing small spaces with people you’ve never met and may never see again. Naturally, if you’re traveling with your family or friends, those stranger danger encounters are more limited – but not entirely eliminated.
Once the proper altitude is reached, it’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy the show. To my right is a slightly older couple, likely retired, pleasantly enjoying best sellers on their readers. The row in front of me holds an attractive young gentleman, with great hair, sipping red wine while focused on the latest popular movie sequel. Due to the subject matter, I was grateful I wasn’t traveling with children. Next to him, and directly in front of me, is the annoying passenger of the day winner who is constantly moving around in her reclined seat while attempting to chat with her travel mate. Meanwhile, the travel mate is ignoring her lack of an inside voice chatter and engrossed in his own utopia of vodka and tonic.
I think of what the attendants must notice as they pass out headsets, food and drink to the rows of generally compliant passengers. What all have they seen?! What all have they heard?!
Most recently I had the distinct – well – pleasure – of a new mile high educator. She, herself, oblivious to her own surroundings, so it seemed. Just a few rows up on an aisle seat for all to admire, there she was, aggressively attacking the keys of her laptop. There was no shame to her distinct subject matter of the assignment. Was it a lecture perhaps?! Adjacent and open for all to see including the unassuming middle passenger next to her, there it was, a detailed and illustrated slideshow on – sex.
Yes, that 3 letter taboo word that causes embarrassing blushes, forbidden topics, hushed whispers, strange looks and evokes secret desires. I found myself completely engrossed.
I couldn’t – or wouldn’t – look away.
The verdict is in. Guilty. I’m an airline voyeur.
This wasn’t about making babies! This was a legitimate discussion – or dare I say education – on the why’s, what’s, how’s and science of sex. Even better, there were illustrations and flow charts on the “synchronized cooperation.” I learned about positions “of authority,” testosterone and prolactin, drives and reasons. And, did you know, that sex is the most often cause of arguments among couples only second to money?
The detail and thought placed onto each slide was so mesmerizing that I didn’t realize I was actually causing a show of my own – by looking. I became the subject of my row mates’ voyeurism with my stretches of the neck, shuffles in the seat to see and snickers at what I saw. I became the educator on how to snoop. Or, was I simply the educator on being a highly inquisitive person into another’s private affairs?!
The pilot turned on the seat belt sign and as the cabin prepared for landing, my subject closed and stowed her laptop. When we deplaned, I couldn’t muster the courage to approach her to say “thank you” for the enjoyable in flight entertainment and tell her how much I had admired her knowledge. In retrospect, my apprehension was that she would know her privacy had been invaded. Perhaps my thanks to her is simply by sharing this with you.
The next time you fly, keep your seat belts fastened and your eyes and ears open. You could be in for an enlightened mile high education.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my new friend “Al.” We boarded as strangers and disembarked as educated friends.
What are your thoughts? Is it an invasion of one’s privacy to see what they are doing on a plane or public place? Or, should one be more considerate of their surroundings and not do or watch anything they wouldn’t want another to view? Are you a mile high educator or airline voyeur? Let me hear from you! Your comments are welcome.