Traveling for Dummies: Anxious, Insane Dummies (part 2)

Yesterday, I started the unofficial Pollak Guide to Air Travel. But then I had to go, so I pretty much stopped mid-sentence. Now, I’m continuing it.

When is it okay to put your seat back?

Travelers everywhere spend countless hours deliberating on the appropriate time to put the seat back while on a plane. Thankfully, I’m here to fill you in on the rules.

Rule Number 1:

If the flight is less than one hour, put the seat back immediately upon take off. The flight’s not long enough to risk not being comfortable. If the flight attendant isn’t watching, you can sometimes get away with putting your seat back before take off. Live on the edge.

Rule Number 2:

If you attempt to push your seat back and the person seated behind you holds the top of your seat to prevent you from doing so, then your sole responsibility for the rest of the flight is to make that asshole as uncomfortable as possible. That means that if he starts eating, you should move your seat back and forth as much as possible. If his knee touches the back of your seat, you should lean a bit forward and then slam your midsection into your seat with as much force as you can muster. If he grabs a magazine from the seat pocket, turn around and glare. If he starts watching Fight Club, tell him that Edward Norton is Tyler Durden. If he gets up to pee, trip him.

He declared war on you. Win it.

Rule Number 3:

During food or beverage service, adjust your seat to maximize your comfort. This is a good time to see if the seat should be up a little more or back a little more. Pay no mind to whether the person seated behind you is balancing a number of fragile items on his tray.

Planes were designed so that trays comfortably hold a 3 oz. cup of soda and two Rolos. The small indent on the tray, which in no way correlates to the size of a real cup, should prevent any spills when you move around. So feel free to make yourself comfortable.

If person behind you eats anything that emits a smell that you don’t like, I recommend the old “pretend you’re looking for something in the overhead compartment and then fall back to your seat with a little extra oomph” gag.

Flying with kids

If you have kids, it’s your job to make them behave while on the plane. It doesn’t matter what it takes: Benadryl, whiskey, poison, whatever. Just don’t let them kick the back of the seat. If they do kick the back of the seat, do something about it.

Here’s what I recommend: After your kid spends five minutes kicking the crap out of the seat in front of him, have the following conversation at a volume loud enough for the kickee to hear:

Parent: Sweetie, did you just kick that man’s chair?
Kid: [no response – either because crying or watching bubble guppies]
Parent: Didn’t I tell you not to kick the seat.
Kid: [no response]
Parent: Don’t bother that nice man sitting in front of you. He’s just trying to watch his marathon of Say Yes to the Dress in peace.
Kid: [no response, kicks seat again]
Parent: What did I just say about bothering the nice man?
Kid: [No response]
Parent: If you don’t behave yourself, then you can’t have any candy.
Kid: But I want candy. CANDY.
Parent: Then you know what to do.
Kid: Fine, I’ll stop.
Parent: Good job. You’re the best behaved child in the entire land. Here’s some candy.

Deplaning

At the end of the flight, the flight attendant will sound a chime indicating that the flight is over. When you hear that chime, immediately jump up from your seat and run to the aisle as fast as you can. If possible, try to squeeze in front of the people one or two rows in front of you. You won’t be able to move anywhere for an hour or two, but standing in the aisle allows you to take up as much space as possible while telephoning your friends to let them know you’ve arrived and that the flight was terrible.

Additionally, your breath is atrocious at this point, so stand awkwardly close to the people who look annoyed that you’re standing in the spot where they would be standing if you followed the internationally accepted etiquette practice of waiting your turn. That’ll show them.

Once you’ve navigated your way through the crowd, remember that you put your bag in the overhead compartment quite a ways from where you are standing. Instead of saying “excuse me, can I sneak by to get my bag,” you should push your way through and then remove your bag with no regard for who it hits on its way out of the bin. If another bag is in your way, do not touch it or help take it down, especially if it belongs to an old person or pregnant woman.

Movies

Don’t watch Big Fish while on a plane. I did that once and I started blubbering like a baby.

Safe travels everyone!

 

 

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Traveling for Dummies: Anxious, Insane Dummies.

Anne and I are going on vacation next week. So I thought today would be a great opportunity to share everything I’ve learned about travel. (Alternate title: Why Anne hates traveling with me.)

Getting to the Airport:

Leave for the airport 7-12 hours before take off. My parents trained me this way so that if you’re involved in a horrific accident along the way, you have time for minor surgery AND can still arrive at the terminal with enough time to navigate a security line slightly longer than those from September 12, 2001.

Cartoon by Rob Pollak get to the airport early

Security:

Once you arrive at the airport, stress levels increase. Particularly with the security line. Stare at the other lines to make sure that your line does not result in a security experience thirty seconds longer than someone who checked in after you. As you do that, you should have a running monologue in your head like the one I have:

Did I bring the tickets? Of course, idiot, they just checked them. What if my passport doesn’t get scanned? Will they think I’m a terrorist? What if they put me through that special x-ray machine that broadcasts my penis to the entire airport? Did I remember to put my toothpaste in a clear plastic bag? Shoot, is it 3 oz or 4 oz that’s allowed?

Did I accidentally pack fireworks? Do I still have the tickets in my pocket? I better check again. Maybe I should hold Anne’s ticket too. What if she drops hers? Did my flight board yet? It’s supposed to leave in 5 hours. What if it left by accident? Then what happens?

Am I wearing any metal? Anne, do you have the tickets? Are there going to be enough bins left when I get to the machine? It looks like they’re running a little low. Ugh, the other line is totally faster.

Is that dickwad cutting me? Oh, like just because you have a pilot’s uniform means that you can go in any line you want? Asshole. Where’d the tickets go? Oh, they’re in my hand. Thank god.

Can I bring this coffee with me? Will there be any food on the other side? I can’t see over there. What if there’s not? Will they have the new Golf Digest or the one I already have? Do I need to take my laptop out of its case? I forget. Why is everyone staring at me? Am I sweating? Do I have my wallet? I better pat my pocket to check. The tickets?! Dammit, Anne. What’d you do with the tickets?

Boarding:

Approximately thirty minutes prior to boarding, an airline representative announces that boarding will begin. At most airports, this announcement will be both inaudible and incomprehensible. You will, however, clearly hear the announcements for other flights boarding in nearby airports.

Although boarding proceeds in the same manner for every flight, you should hover right next to the boarding area for the entire boarding period. This allows you to be first through the gate once your designated section boards. Not only will you be closer to the gate, but the people who are actually permitted to board might think that you’re in line and stand behind you. Success! Now you can get through the ticket taker before them and stand in the same exact line on the other side of the gate.

A cartoon by Rob Pollak - Travel guide where to stand when boarding a plane

Overhead Bins:

Once aboard the plane, commandeer an overhead bin wherever you want. It doesn’t matter if it’s close to your seat. Airplanes only have enough overhead bin space for 1/17th of all passengers.

Once you’ve taken up as much bin space as possible, ignore all requests to keep smaller items like backpacks and jackets out of the overhead bin.

Peeing:

As if peeing in a coffin-sized bathroom isn’t bad enough, you have the added stress of navigating the beverage service and other passengers when timing your pee. Once beverage service begins, all bets are off. The flight attendants hog the aisle and never ever leave. So if you kind of have to go, then you should try to go before the drinks come out. The flight attendant may yell at you because you’re never allowed to be when you have to go, as noted by the “fasten your seatbelt” sign. This is just a recommendation – as if seatbelts on flights do anything.

Pay particular attention to the little light that lets you know when the bathroom is empty. Continue to stare at the light until it changes from red to green. In the meantime, identify anyone else playing the same game. You can spot them because they are staring at you while preparing to murder you if you try to get up first. Ignore their threats and hope that there’s an air marshal on board.

Takeoff:

Just before take off, the flight attendant will remind you to turn off your cell phone and place your seat in the upright and locked position. You only have to follow this rule if you’re not currently using your cell phone. If you are using your device, it’s just a recommendation.

If your device is off, then you can glare at and judge the E one asshole sitting on the other side of your aisle. You know, the oblivious guy making a tweet before take off. It probably says, “Ugh. STILL on the runway. Jetblue is the WORST” or “JFK —-> LAX.” If you’re not familiar the airport code to airport code update translates roughly to “I’m a douche.”

The garbage collection:

If you’re not 100% focused on the flight attendant, be prepared to sit with your garbage for the rest of the flight. I obtained a copy of the Flight Attendant Training Manual, which reads as follows:

How to PIck Up Garbage from Passengers in Business Class:
Step 1: Remove one garbage bag from the flight attendant staging area.
Step 2: Cover hands with blue latex gloves.
Step 3: Address each passenger by name, make eye contact, and ask if he or she has any trash. Example: Mr. Jones, do you have any trash that I can take for you?
Step 3a: If the passenger hands you garbage, place it into the trash bag and proceed to Step 3c.
Step 3b: If the passenger does not hand you garbage, proceed to step 3C.
Step 3c: Thank passenger by name. For example, say, “Thank you, Mr. Jones.”

How to PIck Up Garbage from Passengers in Coach Class:
Step 1: Run down the Coach aisle as fast as possible.
Step 2: Avoid eye contact.
Step 3: Hold the bag open just enough for one crumpled napkin.
Step 4: Do not touch any garbage so each passenger in the aisle has to hand it to some stranger sitting next to him.
Step 5: Proceed to the intercom system and announce, “We will now begin trash collection for this flight.”

Ireland Live Blog (From America (and not live))

Back when my live blog was still live, Anne and I had just survived a terrifying clockwise journey around the Ring of Kerry and sang classic Irish ballads (James Taylor, Oasis, etc.) in the Dingle Pub.  Although we’ve been home for ages now, I feel compelled to complete the live blog so future readers don’t get concerned that we perished from an apple pucker incident.  

Before I get to the additional details of our travel, it’s important to note a major shift that occurred somewhere around Dingle.  A small discovery led to a huge change in how we saw the country and what became important.  I discovered the “miniaturize” feature on our camera and from that point forward, my sole purpose in life became finding things that would look awesome as miniatures.  I no longer cared about beautiful scenery, sleepy pubs, or romantic hideaways.  Unless they would look good smaller, and then I cared a lot.

In case you’re not familiar with the epicness that is miniaturization (and you’re probably not), here is a picture of a group of golfers on the 18th hole of the Old Head golf course:

And here is the same picture but with the golfers “miniaturized”:

Looking at these pictures now, on a big computer screen, I realize that the difference isn’t all that substantial.  I’m not even completely certain that I correctly labeled the miniature picture.  But on that little screen on the back of the camera, I would laugh and laugh and laugh every time I found something to make miniature.  I’m putting words into her mouth here, but it’s fair to say that Anne hated me by this point of the trip.

I should also mention that those photos were taken after Anne arrived at the golf course.  It looked beautiful and pleasant when she showed up.

When I was playing golf, it looked like this:

But back to the trip.

After leaving Dingle (!), Anne and I headed to Galway via the Conor Pass. The Conor Pass is Ireland’s highest mountain pass.  In Irish, “highest” actually means “treacherous, narrow, curvy, unpassable, and with sheep-towing trucks speeding towards you.”:

Thankfully, I remained quite calm throughout:

In case you were wondering, that slick ride we were driving was a VW Golf:

Yeah, that’s right.  I miniaturized it.

We barely survived Conor Pass and arrived at the most scenic overlook in Ireland.  Everyone we talked to said that the view would be our the reward for surviving the treacherous driving conditions.

Here’s how it looked when we got there:

From there, it was on to Cliffs of Moher, one of the new seven wonders of the world (currently ranked 24 of 28 for the title).  The cliffs are one of Ireland’s top visitor attractions.  Most likely achieving this status by having a website labeling themselves as one of Ireland’s top visitor attractions.

Words cannot describe a world wonder, but if forced to try, I would say that they looked like large cliffs with tourists taking photos.  If describing them to my mom, I would probably call them “breathtaking” or exhale loudly in a show of exuberance.  That would make her happy.

If you have the Internet, you don’t really need to go to the Cliffs because they look exactly like they do in the pictures.

For comparison’s sake, here’s my photo:

Right after taking this picture, my focus shifted from miniaturizing things to making the same joke (admittedly a terrible terrible joke) ovher and ovher for the rest of the day.  Mostly, I joked about how bohering the cliffs of Moher were and how we should pick up some souvenirs at one of the stohers.  If you lowher your standards for a moment, I think you’ll appreciate the humor in it.  Anne particularly disliked the jokes with the punch line, “I hardly even moher.”  As in:

Anne:  Do you want to go to the Cliffs of Moher today?
Rob:  Mo Her?  I hardly even Moher.

Well, that one doesn’t work exactly.  But you get the gist.

A little known fact about the Cliffs – if you pay 3 Euro moher than the regular entry fee, you can head up to the O’Brien viewing center, which the guidebook said provided the best view of the Cliffs.  We knew it would be a good view because only Americans were savvy enough to pay to see it.

Once again, we were rewarded for our reliance on the guidebook:

There are some additional details about our trip that I’d like to share.  But you’ll just have to wait because I JUST discovered a new feature on the camera.

A few random items that are bothering me

  1. The let rule in tennis – Why is it a redo if the ball clips the net and ends up going in, but a fault if it tips the net and lands out?  In both cases, the ball clips the net.  If the purpose of the rule is that the clipping of the net creates unpredictability, then wouldn’t a serve ending up in or out be a perfect example of that unpredictability?  In case that didn’t make any sense, let’s just all agree to agree on this.
  2. Throwing it around the horn – When a guy strikes out in baseball, the players throw the ball around the horn as follows:  Catcher to Third to Second to Short to Third.  Two times for the third baseman, none times for the first baseman.  There’s only one explanation: Racism.  
  3. The Entourage Finale – My only gripe was that when Lloyd pulled up to Ari’s driveway, the director should have done a better job of focusing the camera on the car’s Chevy logo.  It wasn’t quite centered in the screen, which seemed inconsistent with the show’s internal framework.  On the positive side, I was happy to see that Vince and Sofia finally got together. 
  4. Pints – Upon returning from Ireland, I learned that a pint does not equal a pint.  Why didn’t anyone tell me that a pint in Ireland is 20oz (or as commonly called, “not a pint”) as compared to America’s 16oz pint (aka, “a pint”).  I am considering launching my own guidebook company that includes only important information.  Can’t we all agree that everyone skips over the “history” and “architecture” sections anyway?