©2022 Michael Raven
I’ve been settling back into home. A home that feels awkwardly not home for reasons I haven’t quite grasped yet. I feel discombobulated and adrift. Maybe even a little weirded out.
The flight home didn’t help with the surreal feeling I have, even upon waking up the next day. It was an utter madhouse, a carnival sideshow. I couldn’t walk fast enough once I exited the plane.
Behind me, I had a family of six, all four of the children under the age of five by my best guesstimate. When the most infant fussed, it set off a chain reaction of fussing and crying — and that was one of the most normal parts of the passengers nearest me.
Beside me, I had a lady who reeked of pot (I’m absolutely tired of the smell of cannabis) and kept looking back at her “fiance” seated behind her to make secret little face gestures that didn’t make much sense, as those things are apt to do. During the flight, she was watching a comedy on the screen and hee-haw laughing at the top of her lungs as if she didn’t realize that she wasn’t in her own living room and that no one else knew what she was laughing about. She did the whole elbow spread like men do the manspread with the legs and didn’t seem bothered at all that she was making me lean away from her into the aisle. And near the end… she started listening to a rap playlist provided by the airplane entertainment system and “danced” in her seat in the most utterly un-rap-ish white girl dance that ever existed for the final hour of the trip. While we were waiting to leave, that’s when she decided we we best friends and played 20 questions with me that I avoided answering as best as I could.
In front of me was an older woman who would tell anyone who dared to listen just how horrible her day has been because she’d fallen earlier and needed to be hauled around by wheelchair because of her injury. And then she put her stockinged feet up into the armrest of the first-class passenger in front of her, demanded multiple “snacks” and alcoholic beverages, fussed about not having free internet on the flight, called for the flight attendants multiple times for frivolous reasons, had to be told to put on her mask multiple times while she hacked and wheezed and coughed up a lung (during a pandemic). She was pissed that the first class passengers got “special treatment”, and had to have it explained that those people had paid extra for that special treatment. She was sitting in a seat with an alternative arrangement for the monitor and table, saw another passenger with a similar setup had figured it out and asked for help on handling her own. He tried to help (while we were in the middle of the ascent), but she absolutely was not listening to him and doing everything but what he was telling her to do until he gave up. “A gentleman would have helped a lady,” she snarked at him. “Lady, I tried to help you and you didn’t listen to a damned word I said, so go to hell.”
There was another couple with their adopted daughter (she was of Asian descent and they were both too old to be natural parents, and very white) who were snipping at each other (still) about how it had been “so hard to find a water fountain to fill the bottles” in the airport. This is after we were on the flight. I had found the fountain — it was up the concourse about 25 yards from the gate.
Then, miss “I am white trash elderly wanting to be treated like royalty because of my poor poor hurt back” takes a few moments to bitch about how she has to wait for everyone else to disembark before she can leave because she needs to be taken out by wheelchair.
I almost ran screaming with joy after being trapped with those people.
To add to my discombobulation, I tried to log into my email for work to see what kind of disaster awaited me to discover my account was blocked “for suspicious activity”. Apparently, my travel to two NW Coastal cities triggered the block when my phone “checked in” from multiple cities with no laptop activity (I didn’t bring my work laptop with me). I spent an hour with the helpdesk trying to recover my account, playing another episode of 20 questions that made me wonder if I’d slipped into another dimension while I was out west. I offered to let them call me for this question/answer session, but apparently that wasn’t what they wanted to do — and yet they needed to “confirm” my identity. I don’t know about you, but I can usually recognize someone’s voice patterns if I’ve spoken to them more than a few times — and this person has spoken with me multiple times over the years. It took far longer to recover the account via email.
Going through my emails for work, my unpaid leave was supposed to be taken care of for my timesheets. And yet, I got several nasty emails about not filling in my timesheets (which I was explicitly told NOT to do), until my HR rep got involved. And then, the problem went magically away.
Meanwhile, everyone in the house seems uncomfortable with me being here, including the cats. “Glad you’re back, miss you!” but being handled with kid gloves. It’s all very odd.
They do have stories about Oregon being a place where weird things happen, and I’m starting to wonder if there isn’t some truth to that now that I’m nominally back home. Everything feels like it is designed to feel “off” today.
Or maybe I just need to drink the Kool-Aid and see what happens next.