Every now and again I see people ranting about how small the seats are… how long they have to sit in the chair… how much turbulence there was… how bad the service of Airline X was, as they soar through air orders of magnitude faster than any land creature alive. And, it’s strikes me as strange.
For much of my life I’ve had to stay awake on flights. It didn’t matter how long the flight was or how little I slept the night before. If it was a 20 hour trip. Awake the whole time. If it was a 5 day trip, and I’ve actually had one, awake… all five days. If there were layovers, I had to stay awake at the airport or risk missing the flight.
I had to stay awake. If exhaustion took me into unconsciousness, when I awoke, I’d puke. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I’d feel sick for the next week or so. It was very bad.
I began to associate air travel with things I don’t much care for, like local, non-awesome public transportation. Some cities have great public transportation. New York. San Francisco. London. Pretty much all of Japan. Awesome. Suburbs in Southern California… not awesome.
That’s what airlines got associated with in my mind. I started calling jets air buses, only later noting with no small amount of irony that there’s a company that builds jets called… wait for it… Airbus. So I guess I wasn’t the first to make this association.
Recently, as in, in the past 5 weeks, all that has changed. I had to fly to New York for the HOPE X hacker convention to screen ALGORITHM. I slept the whole way there. And, I slept the whole way back too.
I don’t know what about me changed, probably some spacial awareness, or as my PT wife calls it, proprioception. That’s how your body knows where it is in relation to itself. That combined with the vestibular in the inner-ear, and you know where you are in relation to everything else. The room, the ground, the ladder you’re climbing, you get the idea.
Whatever it was, it got cured and I could sleep without repercussion. Then, air travel became one of the most wonderful things in the world. Again, I could realize that I’m in a chair and I’m 7 miles up above the earth, traveling 10x the speed I’m allowed to drive my car. And, I don’t even have to drive.
Sure, going through TSA’s bit of lame-sauce isn’t fun. Sure, I don’t like screaming babies or not feeling like it’s socially acceptable to ask the guy/woman next to me to get up so I can use the restroom. I get that those are problems.
Here’s the thing: these cramped chairs with mediocre service, even in so-called first class, isn’t how I’d chose to spend my entire life; but I don’t have to. I only have to endure it for a few hours. At most, it’s an 18hr problem. And that really isn’t that big of a deal.
If you can sleep like I now can, it’s not even like traveling. It’s more like teleportation. I step in the tube. I sit down. I close my eyes. I open them and I’m on the other side of the country… or the other side of the planet. And that’s pretty awesome.