The best thing to do after a 9-hour flight and 12 hours traveling? Get on another plane.
I called my mom during my layover and reported that I hadn’t slept, and wasn’t planning on it during the next leg. That way, I’d arrive in the San Francisco airport ready to sleep off the journey.
Ten minutes into the five-hour transcontinental flight, my head hit the tray table and I fell fast asleep.
I woke to the crackling speaker and the captain’s voice “…landing in San Francisco, about 11:30 pm local time.”
What? I’d slept through the whole flight? Oh glorious day!
I decided to make a celebratory trip to the bathroom to stretch my aching muscles before they turned on the seatbelt sign and prepared the cabin for landing. While I waited for the little indicator light to turn green and vacant, I asked the woman behind me if she knew how long it would be until we landed.
“Well, he said 11:30, so however long it is from now until 11:30, I guess,” she hazarded.
“Yeah…I just don’t know what time it is…” In other words, your response is entirely useless.
“Oh, um, me either. I’m guessing around four hours, but I really don’t know. Maybe he knows?”
I glanced at the businessman on his computer and slurred, “Yeah…maybe…” I was still a little groggy. Hopefully she didn’t notice.
I lost interest in her feeble attempts to discover the time the second the tiny lavatory became available. As I closed the door behind me, a fuzzy thought registered: four hours? What was she talking about? That’s almost how long the whole flight was supposed to be. Maybe she was doing mental math aloud and subtracting from four total hours? Whatever. She was clearly off her rocker, so no need to worry.
I half expected her to report her findings when I emerged from the bathroom, but no such luck. That was okay. I’d already forgotten about it by the time I sat back down and buckled my seatbelt.
I engaged in a staring contest with the blue fake leather seat in front of me for a good ten minutes before it occurred to me I could check the time. I squinted at the dual clock on my smartphone and blinked. 7:56 pm? That couldn’t be right. That must be Barcelona time. North Carolina time? Whatever, it wasn’t San Francisco time. Since my phone had been in airplane mode, it probably hadn’t updated to the right location yet.
Wait a minute. BARCELONA 4:57 AM. SAN FRANCISCO 7:57 PM. San Francisco. And the time just updated. It was only EIGHT O’CLOCK?? You’ve gotta be kidding me.
Did I mention I was in a middle seat?
One that didn’t recline?
It all went downhill from there.
After waking up in an absurd, cramped position for the fifth time, I wrote a poem to make me feel better.