Flying out to Orlando for this conference, it occurred to me for the first time that I am the flying equivalent of the pocket protector, medical taped horn rimmed glasses engineer. Last year when I attended this conference in Phoenix, I came home and proceeded to get the worst bronchial infection I’ve ever had to date. I’m certain that I got this infection from the plane trip home, with the recirculating air. I missed over 2 weeks of work; was borderline pneumonia; and almost put in the hospital. IT was the beginning of my year long on again-off again rounds of antibiotics. Not wishing to repeat this episode in 2008, I acquired some surgical masks from one of my docs, to wear. So, upon arriving at the airport, I masked up.
Additionally, the pressurization really screws with my ears. So, for a long time, I’ve purchased ‘ear planes’, which look like IUDs for the ear. It’s as I’m sitting, the plane is moving from the tarmack to runway for take off that I start to insert the aural devices, that it hits me, what a total geek I must look like. Now, on the plus side, people tend to ignore/avoid you. Since for reasons unbeknownst to me, I seem to be a freak magnet, this kept them at bay.
Once we landed and deplaned, I went to the bathroom in the airport (no Larry Craig antics), took off the mask and went down to collect the luggage. So far, so good. I’m tired, but because of the change in routine and the different pace one has at meetings/events like this. I’ll be masking up again for the trip home.
The trip home:
Well, so much for warding off the freaks. The shuttle that took me to the airport picked me up at 9:00 am. My flight wasn’t until 12:45pm. I arrive at the airport, mask up, get through TSA security and go to the gate. The gate area is crowded. I find an end seat next to some man, I would guess to be in my age co-hort, somewhere in his 40s. I open my backpack to get out my book to read.
“Have you ever read the Bible?”, says the man I just sat beside.
“Yes, I have.”, I respond as non-committally as possible, without looking at him, not wanting to encourage the continuance this conversation.
“It’s fortunate that you sat next to me. I’m just reading here in Acts about God’s healing powers. Are you a believer? Is Jesus Christ your personal lord and savior.?”
“No, I’m not and no he isn’t. I’m not going to have this conversation with you.”
“Jesus loves you and wants to heal you.”
“SIR, I’M NOT GOING TO HAVE THIS CONVERSATION WITH YOU.”
He continued for a bit longer, without me taking the bait.
Had I not been tired, and had I felt like a good sparring match, I would have said,
“The reason I’m no longer a believer is because of people like you, who think it’s fully appropriate to approach a total stranger, wearing a face mask/barrier, make assumptions about what disease I may or may not have and think it’s your right to come and start proselytizing to me. And because I don’t believe exactly what you believe, I am somehow inferior. I have no use for that type of theology or god.” Had I really wanted to get his ire up, I would have introduced myself as a Sodomite fag.
Instead, I turned my back to him, and pretended to read my book. After a few minutes, he selected a new victim on the other side of him, who was more receptive (or perhaps, less direct) than I in rejecting him.
The mask, my fool-proof anti-polarity method of repelling the freaks has failed me! What does it take to keep me from being the freak magnet?! Tonto, I need your help.