I was about to head to Charleston, South Carolina, for two weeks of training for my job. I didn’t make the trip with any co-workers; however, I wasn’t alone. I was accompanied by my usual travel companion, my Inner Reactive Voice, also known as IRV.

Some people are blessed with internal voices of reason; others, internal voices of feelings. I have a cynical, sarcastic, inner voice who has a tendency to panic and overreact. But IRV is all I have. You can pick your lottery numbers, your nose and your friends but you can’t pick the voice inside your head. It wasn’t long after arriving at the Burlington airport that I realized IRV was going to make it a very long day. It went something like this:

Me: OK, I arrived two hours early, checked my bag, got through the TSA screening without a problem. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for the flight to Newark, catch my connecting flight to Charleston, and start this adventure.

IRV: Wonderful, we’re going to Newark, New Jersey; armpit of the world. We’ll probably get mugged waiting for the plane. Or maybe the pilot will miss the exit, and we’ll get lost. This has nothing but disaster written all over it.

Me: Look IRV, that negative thinking really isn’t helpful. All it does is raise the stress level. If you don’t have anything positive to add to the conversation, keep quiet.

IRV: You’re right. Sorry.

ANNOUNCER: Flight 1943 to Newark has been delayed by 20 minutes due to a mechanical issue.

IRV: We’re going to die.

Me: Relax. Everything is going to be fine.

ANNOUNCER: The pilot has decided to ground flight 1943 to Newark. Please see an airline agent to rebook your flight.

Me: See, we’re going to be on another plane. There’s an agent, let’s see what she has to say.

IRV: Nuts, I forgot to say goodbye.

Me: Goodbye?

IRV: To your suitcase. It’s on that grounded plane. You’re never going to see it again. You can always buy a toothbrush and underwear at a drug store.

Me: Hi, I was booked on the flight to Newark.

Agent: Let’s see. Sir, I can rebook you on a plane to Chicago.

IRV: My geography isn’t great, but isn’t Chicago west of Vermont? And we’re going to South Carolina which is, well, south? On the plus side, we’ll have a chance to reset our watches in a new time zone. I love the idea of flying a plane into a windy city. Bet you wish you got life insurance for this trip.

Me: Shut up.

Agent: Excuse me?

Me: I’m sorry. That will be great.

IRV: We can always hope there’s a mechanical issue with the flight to Chicago, and get rebooked on a plane to Topeka. Or maybe Omaha. I’ve never been to Nebraska. Isn’t that two time zones away?

Me: They’re already boarding. Let’s go.

IRV: People sure take advantage of bringing carry-on luggage. Look at that guy trying to stuff the body bag in the overhead compartment. And that lady behind us with the portable dumpster on wheels. Is she planning on holding a yard sale once we reach cruising altitude?

Me: Here we are. It appears I have the middle seat.

IRV: The middle seat? That’s the worst. You can’t see out the window, and you can’t look up and down the aisle. This is going to be pure hell. It’s going to be like going for a ride in the car and traveling in the trunk.

Me: It’s all a matter of outlook. I’ll be between two very friendly looking passengers.

IRV: Who have already claimed the armrests. You’re going to have put your arms around their shoulders. This should be cozy. I’ll bet the big guy with the greasy hair has showered at least once this month.

Me: I’m going to introduce myself …

IRV: Oh boy. You start them talking, and you’ll never shut them up. With the luck you’ve been having, he’s going to tell you all about the rally he just attended and she’s going to help you find Jesus. Your head is going to go back and forth like you’re watching the U.S. Open before it spins off. On another note, there’s absolutely no leg room. What are you supposed to do, assume the fetal position for the duration of the flight? Well, at least you only have to go 3 feet to get to the bathroom.

Fortunately, when I travel with IRV and he gets to be too obnoxious, I have a way to escape from him for a while.

IRV: Hey, what are you doing? Don’t put on those headphones. The music is going to drown me out! You won’t able to hear my insightful thoughts and observations. Mark? Mark? Hello?

Mark S. Albury lives in Northfield Falls.

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