Monday, June 22, 2009

Barf Bag Story

"Everything is amazing right now and nobody's happy."

Louis CK made this statement on the Conan O'Brien show in an insightful monologue about what a bunch of whiners we have become as technology makes everything too easy. We want what we want when we want it - usually instantly. He uses air travel as an analogy for how freakishly amazing life is and yet we still complain. Well worth watching the clip.

I love to fly. It is still amazing to me what we can do while we're several miles above the planet earth. We can eat a meal, go to the bathroom, write a short story, catalog shop, sleep or even make a friend.

Still, there are some preparations I must make to ensure that all goes well.

After experiencing severe vertigo a few times, I make it a point to take Antivert and ginger. And even though I've never actually thrown up on a plane, it is imperative to have an "air sickness bag" handy. As soon as I stash my overloaded knapsack under the seat, I check to see if the bag is there, tucked neatly in between the instructions on what to do in case of a water landing and the magazine that tells me where to shop and eat if I only have three days in Kuala Lumpur.

On my way from Alburquerque to Minneapolis on Saturday, I was fortunate to be upgraded to first class. The knapsack wasn't such a squeeze, I had a blanket and a pillow, lots of room to slump and....wait, what's this? "air sickness bag"?!?!? Does this mean....uh-oh...I look around my ample seat for unsightly stains and sniff the air for any hint of what the previous occupant of 3A might have done. But it's clean.

OK, now I panic. I don't want to call attention to myself, so I wait until most of the passengers have boarded then casually stroll to the front and whisper "Hello, I'm in 3A. I don't have an 'air sickness bag' and although I feel fine, I would just really like it if there were one handy."
The airline attendant looks concerned. "Every seat needs an 'air sickness bag.' I will be sure to find you one."

I return to my seat and watch as she looks through all the tiny little cupboards, making sure each one is slammed shut. A few more people were boarding and she walked among them, her hands down by her side because, I was sure of it, she was trying to be discreet about my request. She came closer and I could see that her hands were empty. As she reached my seat she said very loudly "I don't have any air sickness bags in the front so I'll go get one from an unoccupied seat."

3 B and C look over at me and lo and behold I recognize them from Lansing! The people in front of her look at me and nod sympathetically because they think I'm feeling queasy. For some reason all of this matters very much to me and I reply "I'm fine, really, I'm fine" but then make the "shhhhh" gesture to indicate I'd really like it if she didn't make a big deal out of this. Which is interesting considering who is making a big deal out of this.

When the attendant returned a few moments later, she held out the "air sickness bag" like a prize then ceremoniously placed it in my seat pocket. My acquaintances across the aisle looked at me and ask if I'm really OK.

YES, I'M FINE, I'm just being FINICKY about wanting a FRIGGING BARF BAG.

The flight was smooth and uneventful other than I was served a delicious (really!) Greek pasta salad, bread sticks and a chocolate cookie. Six miles above the planet earth.

If the next passenger sits there, he or she will check the pocket and find that, alas, there is no "air sickness bag." Why? Because I purloined it. And here is a photograph of said pilfered item. I just can't help myself.

This begs the question, what happened to the one that wasn't there?


  1. Jane, that was funny, very funny. I could see the entire event unfolding. When I traveled to Dublin last month I got nauseous, the very first time it's happened to me. I must have looked it, too because those handy little white bags were being handed to me by everyone in our row. Thankfully, it wasn't necessary. I, too, always look to make sure I have one.

  2. This cracked me up. I'm not a flying fan and my recent trip added to that, although I will say that I, too, flew back in business and boy, does THAT spoil you! But I never looked for the Barf Bag. Hmmm. Rule of thumb: BYOBB.


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