One perk of my job is that I get to travel. I get to travel, a lot. Because of the distances covered, my preferred mode of travel is aeroplane. So, I don’t know if the same sort of thing goes on in buses and trains, but I rather suspect it does.

Last week I was flying back to Edinburgh. A good chance to catch up on some well deserved sleep, I thought. But no. Two passengers, one male and one female, sat directly behind me. It was obvious that they didn’t actually know each other, but they decided they were going to find some common ground by chatting in voices that drowned out the welcome drone of the plane’s engines.

For an hour and a half I was treated to their entire histories at full volume: employment, love lives, family and medical. It was interminable. While I desperately tried to nap, I couldn’t drown out their chattering on about how their bosses didn’t appreciate them, rotten boyfriends, cheating girlfriends, family feuds and hospital appointments, with particular attention to irritable bowel syndrome.

Now, in a bus or a train you can just get up and move seats. In an aircraft you’re buckled in and stuck with it. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one on that flight that fantasised about beating myself to death with the in-flight magazine.

He was trying to impress the young lady with his in-depth and all-encompassing knowledge about – well – everything. She chattered on inanely about every aspect of her life. And her work colleagues’ lives. When she wasn’t doing that she was cackling in a pitch that alerted dogs a mile below us on the ground.

To make it worse there were no cushions on the flight. Nothing to stuff into my ears; or their mouths.

They must have been so engrossed in their conversation that they didn’t hear the stewardess announce: “Please open the overhead lockers carefully, because after a landing like THAT things are bound to have moved around.”

When the young lady opened the locker a heavy flight case fell out and hit the poor fellow square in the face. I’m sure there was a silent cheer went up from the entire planeload of travellers. Sweet.

For a short time there was wonderful, delightful silence while he scrambled around on all fours trying to work out where he was.

Unfortunately, that incident just gives them one more story to recount on their next flight. I only hope that neither you nor I are sitting in front of either of them when they decide to share it.

Drew McAdam


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