The Hygienitard

April 27, 2014

September 2005: Airport

11:15 am – Flight 345 to San Francisco began to ascend when I noticed the faint aroma of corn chips floating nearby.  I enjoy corn chips, so this made me a little hungry.  A mental note was made to bring my own snacks on the next flight.  Snack boxes are 3 bucks, and they don’t include Fritos.

11:21 am – The 4-oz.-bag-of-corn-chip smell gradually progressed to a 20-oz.-bag-of-corn-chip smell.  With a couple of deep whiffs, I traced the aroma to the sleeping passenger to my immediate right.  I twisted the overhead air nozzle and escaped into my novel.

11:58 am – A tickle in my right nostril distracted my focus on my novel.  There was a moment of confusion as I thought someone was waving a bean-dipped corn chip coated in bad breath under my nose.  But it was only the hygienitard sitting next to me.  Despite being hidden under a blanket, her stench invaded my olfactory like a Memphis home invasion.  How could she sleep through this?  Was her nose deaf?  Did the person on my left not smell this?  They weren’t reacting to it if they could.  How could my neighbor on my right not smell it?  I pretended to prop my head on my right hand, using the position to mask clogging my right nostril.

1:34 pm – Somehow, shutting off one nostril only made the stench stronger.  I attempt to open the air nozzle more, hoping to reveal a secret hurricane setting if I twist hard enough.  I notice the hygienitard is not using her air nozzle, but before I could extend my arm to maneuver it in my direction, I sneezed.  This caused my nose to run.  I climbed from the middle seat to clean my sinuses.

1:35 pm – In the tight bathroom of the A320-SR, I rediscovered the joy of fresh(ish) air.  I blew out the vile stench that clung to my mucus and inhaled the sweet smell of airline hand soap and blue commode water.  A public toilet never smelled so good.  I didn’t want to leave.  Subjecting myself to the cloud of nose-hate again would be sadistic, but I couldn’t very well stay in the bathroom for two hours.  What to do….what to do…

1:37 pm – I left the bathroom and casually loitered in the aisle at the back of the plane.  I figured I could do this until we prepared to land.  There aren’t rules for standing during a flight.  What could they say, that I’m strange?  I passed the time by nonchalantly reading over other passengers’ shoulders.

1:47 pm – I felt the plane jostle.  My face blanched when I heard the familiar ping of the “fasten seat belt” sign and listened in horror to the captain announce, “We are about to go through a rough patch so please return to your seats and fasten your seat belts.”  Frozen, I seriously weighed the consequences of defying airline regulation by standing my ground.  I mean, how bad can airport jail be?  However, when an authoritative voice behind me demanded I sit down, I did as I was told instead of saying, “No thanks.  I’ll risk it,”

1:47:15 pm – 3 steps closer to my seat, I felt a lump form in my throat.  The plane shook again.

1:47:35 pm – 6 steps closer, my eyes began to water.

1:47:56 pm – 9 steps closer my lower lip quivered, and I fight back a sob.  The plane suddenly dropped, and I had to grab the seat next to me for balance.  With only 3 steps away, my nose began to run again.  Good thing I brought tissue from the bathroom (oh, the fond memories of the airplane bathroom).

1:48 pm – Back in my seat, I lifted my torso and face as close to the blowing air nozzle as possible while the plane shoot and people panicked.

1:50 pm – The plane took another nasty dive.  Some passengers yelped or gasped; I prayed we were crashing just so the oxygen masks would drop.

2:55 pm – The “fasten seat belt” light didn’t disappear until we landed.  But when it did, a manic blurt of laughter escaped me.  I was as giddy as a child on Christmas waiting for the opening of the fuselage door, excited that fresh air would be mine again soon.

2:07 pm – The urge to shove old ladies out of my way was strong.  I had to leave immediately.  The line was moving too slow.  You need help getting your carry-on out of the overhead bin?  Fine.  Here.  Take it and move along.  No.  No need to thank me.  Really.  Just go.

2:13 pm – I was finally free of the hygienitard’s putrid funk!  Xenu bless it, smog never smelled so good.

Lesson: Respect your fellow person.  Practice good hygiene every day.  Don’t be a hygienitard.