Mel asked people for travel stories and I thought I'd share this column, which I've revised in places.
I'm starting to love airplanes and airports but not for the usual reasons.
I know I'm supposed to love them because of how quickly they get me from place A to place B.
But that's almost an afterthought to me sometimes.
Instead planes are a place to have an alternate life. I think of them as sort of fleets of communes or retreat homes.
And airports... well, most people seem to hate them but as a news junkie I love it. How often do you get free newspapers? Oh, you didn't know they were free?
Well, then, take a lesson from a newspaper-reading fiend like me.
When choosing where to sit, look for the person reading a stack of newspapers. Sit two or there seats away.
As the person finishes, he or she will inevitably look around as they decide whether to throw it away or be a litterbug and leave it there.
So solve the problem for them. Ask, "Excuse me, but would you mind if I borrow that?" Often they smile and sometimes they even thank you for taking the publications.
Tip: Try not to drool or stare while waiting. Read your own magazines until he's done. Doing this I was able to read copies of
On planes I'm exposed to different people and view relationships I would not normally see, such as a teenager daughter doing her AP Physics homework and then discussing/analyzing the results with her bright but pushy father. Or the men who call home on their cell phones as soon as the plane lands, one saying, "Come get me dear, I love you!" while a jerk calls his wife to say "Put the kids away I'll be home soon. I said, do it now!"
But what I most love is what the plane does to me - it lets my mind and body relax, because I know I don't need to be watching for phone calls or emails from friends and work and don't need to run errands immediately.
Instead it frees me to read and think. I end up always having lots of thoughts on planes and so I bring paper and a pen to scribble it all down in my famous handwriting, legible only to me.
And I usually go through four books and two magazines just between flying to California and back.
And sleeping. Wow, is there a more relaxing sound than that of a plane in the air? I've oft thought they should package that sound and sell it to those needing white noise at home.
You know when you get off the plane and the flight attendant says "Thank you!"? I always say, 'No, thank you." This is both polite and makes their frozen smiles falter temporarily, both of which are good things in my book.
One time I was so relaxed, reading the end of Word Freak, that they had to ask me to get off the plane. I was tempted to ask what their hurry was considering how many delays they generally cause us passengers. But I didn't want to cause any further delays for the next reader, er, passenger so I shut up.