Flying Boogers

In his column the "Middle Seat" for The Wall Street Journal,
Scott McCartney writes about the state of the airline industry and what
that means for all of us as we rely on this mode of transportation for
business and for pleasure.  Let me rephrase that.  We rely on the
airline industry to take us to places for business and/or pleasure.

Today I happened to catch Fresh Air on NPR as McCartney explained in disgusting detail why to avoid the middle seat
on an airplane and were I near a phone I would have called in to state
my case as to "why to avoid any and all seats…"  I was
unable to make such a call but that won’t stop me from sharing my
latest experience with all of you should you decide to continue reading
this post.  Consider that a warning…

So there I was this past Tuesday, feeling pretty lucky I’d scored a window seat all by myself in a row of three seats.  Better yet, the three seats across the aisle were also empty.  That’s a statistical improbability in this day and age of airline travel.  I buckled my seatbelt and settled in. 

Hopefully no one else will board this plane.  With my luck he or she will plop down in the middle seat, right next to me, thinking assigned seating arrangements are etched in stone.  Wait, where did he come from?  Oh, he just did the same thing I did – he spotted an empty seat and bolted for it.  No problem.  He chose the aisle seat across the aisle from me.  Whew.

The man across the aisle from me appeared reasonable.  Normal.  Clean cut.  He was dressed in casual business attire, a pale yellow oxford shirt and matching tie.  He whipped out a thick hardcover book and wasted no time in picking up where he left of.  Unfortunately, however, that’s not all he started picking.  His right index finger went right to work and up his nose it went.  Repeatedly.  Deep.  He was going for the prize.  Anything else found in the process was flicked off the pointer finger with the thumb.  Repeatedly. 

GROSS! Has this man NO peripheral vision?  Has he not noticed me sitting across the aisle?  Does he think that just because I appear to be reading (well, I WAS) that I can’t see him?  Has it not occurred to him that I might have peripheral vision?  Oh God.  ENOUGH already!

I shifted in my seat.  I crossed my legs.  I cleared my throat.  Uh hem.  For heavens sake.  What was that man reading I wondered?  He’s just so engrossed in what he is doing…

NOoooo!!!  Now he’s switched hands!  With out missing a beat – yes, he’d fallen into a rhythm by now – he starts picking with the left hand.  Boogers.  They’re flying everywhere as he flicks them off.  We’re flying;  they’re flying.  Flying boogers!

I just can’t stand it anymore.  I’ve got to make him stop otherwise I’m just an enabler.  I clear my throat again.  Louder this time.  So he can hear me.

Uh hem. Brief pause to give him that one last chance to notice me and realize what he has been doing for far too long now…

No such luck.

UH HEM.  Would you like a tissue?

There’s a delayed reaction, then he looks up and around as if maybe he heard something but he’s not sure…

"What?"  he asked…

I said would you like a tissue?  And then I tossed him a look of disapproval that rivaled the ones my father is capable of giving.

"Oh, no thank you" he replied.

No thank you?!? 

I think I’m going to wear latex gloves the next time I fly.

~ Connie

Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

0 thoughts on “Flying Boogers”

  1. Eeeew! I’m going have nightmares about this and significant paranioa now every time I fly. Not sure WHAT I might be sitting on or putting my hands on. *shudders*


  2. Yikes, I do not know where to begin. The TSA truly needs to get its act together and be consistent. As a wheelchair user, I never know what to expect when I approach airport security lines. Sometimes I am told to go directly to the front of the line and other times I wait like all those that are bipedal. The new system of segregation may speed up lines but assumes passengers with “special needs”, a phrase I detest, are not expert travelers. I can get on and off a plane as fast as any seasoned business traveler but am often forced to board first and get off last. As for my fellow passengers and the cleanliness of the planes, lets just say I am not impressed. Today planes are indeed dirty and all parties involved assume some guilt. Airlines services are substandard and because many passengers act like slobs the cleanliness of planes continues to deteriorate. I never cease to be amazed by the staggering amount of food brought on planes by passengers. Surely one can survive a few hours without wolfing down fast food that smells gross. I dread airline travel and know that using a wheelchair makes me a target of abuse or benign neglect at best. The social abuse I am subjected to as a disabled person has gotten significantly worse in recent years. The new TSA policy will not help and reinforces the fact disabled people are treated like second class citizens.


  3. Well. After years of avoiding flying, these last two springs I’ve found myself on airplanes headed for places far away. I don’t like to fly; to say I’m a nervous flier is to understate the point. I simply can’t relax, whether it’s a 2-hour flight or a 19-hour marathon across the US, across the Atlantic and to Europe. That said, I noticed that the airplanes I flew on recently were filthy. They smelled bad. The seats in coach class were much smaller and the space more claustrophobic than I remember (though to be fair, I’ve gained middle-aged pounds and take up more space than I once did). Flying has never been a particularly pleasant experience for me, but now it’s worse.
    And now, add to all the other flying unpleasantnesses a man who picks his nose and flicks boogers as a nervous habit. Gahhh! What a gross thing to have to watch for an entire flight, Connie! You have my most sincere sympathy.


  4. Last flight, a direct from Boston to Los Angeles, I was treated to a seatmate who was CHEWING TOBACCO and SPITTING for the six-hour duration. I wish I was kidding. I couldn’t believe it–this guy was SPITTING on a plane–I’m sure he thought he was being discreet, spitting into a bottle, and I had my eyes glued into a book anyway, but DUDE, I can hear, and I can smell, and I’m sitting against you…. STOP SPITTING!
    I know, he must be very addicted to tobacco, and that’s a real addiction, and six hours is a long time. But he made my six hours just as long and nauseating…blech. Maybe our seatmates can get together and start an airline for flyers who cannot resist pursuing such nasty habits in public.


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