Saturday, October 1, 2016

Hawaii Diary - The Travel

Hawaii Diary - Pt 1 - The flying

I figure there are two types of people in this world: those who lean their seats back in airplanes, and those who do not. 

I’m not a frequent enough air traveler to say anything conclusive about my own habits other than the fact that I have never tilted my own seat back, so I can make the assumption that I’d fall into the latter category.  Perhaps, if I enjoyed the delights of air travel more I would be more likely to indulge myself in the lie that more comfort exists when your seat is angled back by 10 degrees (or maybe even less, I don’t generally have my protractor handy in my carry-on luggage). 

The type of air traveler who tilts his or her seat back - barely increasing their personal comfort while dramatically decreasing the comfort of those unlucky enough to be seated behind these self-indulgent perpetrators of this heinous crime against humanity - is the same type of person who takes BOTH armrests at the movie theater, even when you’re crammed into the midnight showing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and your drink is nestled next to THEIR left hand; constantly touching and being brushed by its - most likely - unwashed fingers.

It’s like sitting next to a dude that, for some reason, feels it necessary to sit with his legs splayed out wide like he has to make room for another person in between his legs.  I’ve discovered this type of guy doesn’t even have to be tall (tall people have an excuse on planes, as they have a stacked deck of cars shoved into their lap by a greedy airline system) to “need” the extra legroom that doing a vulgar set of splits in their semi-cushioned seat 32B seems to require.  I would hazard a guess that this type of behavior is somehow suggestive of their libido, telling the world (or really just the passenger next to them who likely could not care less about his or her neighbor in the slightest) that they are ready, and they are capable.  Of what, we do not know. But at least it’s obvious what he wants me to know…

But I’m not complaining, no sir.  I’m on an airplane that’s somehow managing to fly 32,000 feet up in the air at six hundred miles an hour.  With people stuffed into its body (which is basically a big metal phallus) and some spindly wings - to which are attached two gigantic jet engines - which also hold jet fuel we hurtle across hundreds of miles of open oceans and are served fine meals of… Well to be honest I’m actually not sure what that breakfast was.  It looked to have some fruit, but since I exist on a tan diet I did not venture to discover which fruits were in the sealed paper cup as they had at least some color to them. My guess is they are not Hawaiian fresh. 

I’m definitely not complaining as I’m flying 8 days in advance of Christine’s race and at least 24 days in advance of my race to an island that caters to tourists due to its staggering visual feasts and abounding local flair and - next weekend anyway - is the center of the triathlon universe, where we get to stay for over 3 weeks and do two world championship events.

Unfortunately, this plane is probably at least 20 years old and has an in flight entertainment system that is bettered by the Red Roof Inn I stayed in a few months ago somewhere around Six Flags Atlanta, which featured nearby businesses that involved stripping and trucking. But if you’ve ever read Michael Crichton’s novel “Airframe” you’ll know that these planes undergo rigorous and demanding safety checks of the ten thousand bolts and rivets that hold it together and keep it hurtling at those aforementioned speeds and aforementioned altitudes.  For what it’s worth, don’t read “Airframe” if you have a fear of flying…

But again, I’m not complaining. I just wish the guy in front of me would put his fucking seat upright.


Hawaii Diary - Pt 2 - The part in between flying, the LAYOVER

Right now I’m sitting at the Honolulu airport, having realized that I have a 3 hour layover before boarding my flight to Kona. After the initial disappointment this knowledge created - having somehow forgotten in the interim between scheduling the flights and now - I realized this is a great chance to take stock of humanity.  Because, let’s be honest, what better place is there to analyze and people watch than an airport? Other than Wal-Mart, of course. 

The short answer is that there isn’t anything better than sitting and judging everyone else simply because you don’t know them and are therefore not required to get to know them at all before you do proceed to judge them. It’s the beauty of transient context.  In our real lives we are somewhat likely to see people again, especially as we go about our normal “routines” and so the likelihood of additional encounters increases the longer your routine stays the same.  At the airport, in a place I’ve never ever been before (or even in a pace I have been many times) I can imagine whatever I want and label someone however I want.  It’s spectacular.

For example, in front of me right now there’s this little bird hopping around this lady’s feet.  The lady appears to have passed out, most likely from trying to hold her breath throughout the duration of her flight due to the gross stink of a 30 year old plastic and metal tube that’s hauled tens of thousands of people in who knows what types of conditions and suffering from what sort of ailments all over the world and is now relegated to the tired role of being a “Hawaii” plane. She is completely unaware of this bird, which someone showed up indoors. It appears to think as though she is going to offer it snacks, although any snacks she did have were likely consumed amidst an ongoing issue with starvation during her flight, because obviously the chips at the end of the 6 hour journey were enough to sate anybody’s lingering hunger after that delicious … breakfast. Not.

I would say the MOST annoying thing to me in an airport (and potentially in life, generally speaking) is people’s seeming inability to pay attention to anything other than their mobile phones. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that we didn’t have the latest Facebook shitstorm flooding our every waking moment, to be honest.  I entered college never having sent a text message before, and only got my first phone in that first semester.  This was 2007, so less than a decade ago I was a texting virgin.  Of course, T9 was quickly mastered by my deft fingertips, and my world has never been the same since.  
These same symptoms appear to have befallen most travelers, who wander through the airport - which, keep in mind, is packed with people for the most part - starting at their hand rather than being aware of the things going on around them.  Wandering back and forth and in perpendicular directions compared to the normal lanes of travel because, obviously, shit going down on twitter and insta is WAY more important than looking around you and realizing how in the way you are to people who are, actually, paying attention. 

Perhaps more interestingly, it is astonishingly easy to single out the triathletes.  For example, if someone has a giant M-Dot logo PERMANENTLY etched on their calf … the chances are high that they tri. Anybody in Newtons? Probably a triathlete. Wearing brightly colored shoes at all? Probably a triathlete.  Race shirt of any kind? Probably. Sport sunglasses? Yea. Some form of wristwatch that is made my Garmin? Mhm.  

Introspection over, let’s get back to judging others. 

There’s a lot of what I’d term “stereotypical” Hawaii travelers here.  Lots of cameras, lots of fanny packs, lots of “safari hats,” lots of red and sunburned skin… I assume this is also a main stopping point in between west coast US and east coast Asia and Australia, so there’s a lot of that as well. A lot of accents, foreign languages, etc.  It feels a but like a melting pot, but for some reason the AC is pumped up SO high that nothing is melting. I am cold. In Hawaii. Paradoxical, no doubt.


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