Let’s say you’re on a direct flight coast-to-coast. Should you try to get an aisle seat or a window seat?

Aisle pros: More legroom, can get up to go to the bathroom whenever you want
Window pros: Can look outside (sometimes the views are spectacular) and control the window shade, can rest head on window to sleep, are not woken up when someone else in your row has to go to the bathroom

I’ve been a window guy for a while, but on the way to Boston the diuretic one-two punch of being in an airplane and watching two movies, combined with the two other people in my row executing a perfectly synchronized tag-team of sleeping, nearly did me in.

Dan’s wedding this weekend was the last one I have scheduled, and ended what I’d call the first wave (or mode) of my friends getting married. He was also the first of my high school friends to get married. The weekend was a nearly perfect combination of fun and heartfelt emotion. The groomsmen (except for Dan’s brother) were all my best friends from high school. We got to know Dan’s beautiful new wife April better. We also saw Dan accept her daughter Alyssa as his own in a very touching part of the ceremony. Of course there was also the endless succession of sports and joking around and partying that comes with hanging out with my high school friends.

I’m incredibly happy at how we’ve managed to stay in touch so well for so long. These guys are the perfect friends: good-natured (and never mean-spirited), hilarious, really athletic, personable and courteous, always up for having a good time — or doing something crazy to make a good time — yet 100% dependable when it counts. They’re never late or unprepared for anything important (in fact, we were early to all of the wedding functions)… and yet we’ll play Connect-Four at a restaurant during lunch, blow Will’s trumpet in the parking lot after the rehearsal dinner to congratulate Dan and April, bust out every ridiculous move in the book on the dance floor, or whatever else makes life fun. The fun to stress ratio is practically infinity.

So that was good. I also got to spend a a few days in Boston, perfect bookends to the wedding. Saw a bunch of college and work friends, had some great conversations with Matt, and pigged out at Wing and Jen’s. Here are some pictures — can you pick out the one that wasn’t taken on my camera? By the way, the last picture is from the window of the plane — a pro for window seats!

My friend Sach has finally started his own blog — check it out!

I’ve witnessed two scary airport moments in the last two years. Maybe they’re a result of paranoia, but let me tell you, when you’re in these situations, it’s virtually impossible not to think “bomb” or “terrorist”, no matter how rational you try to make yourself.

1. I’m sitting at some gate in some airport (I forget which one) and I notice a roller bag sitting upright, unattended right in the middle of the big aisle between my gate and the opposite one. Just sitting there, while travellers flow by. I find it interesting, but not yet scary. Two minutes later, an airport employee makes an announcement: if the bag standing between gates X and Y is yours, come to the desk immediately. No one comes to the desk. The bag still sits there. Despite my best rational thoughts, I start to get nervous. If you can imagine a picture of the scene taken with a long exposure — a blur of limbs and luggage, and in the middle sits this one item, rock steady — that’s what it begins to look like.

It’s weird what goes through your head at times like these. At first you think that it’s preposterous, there’s no way there’s a bomb in the bag. Then no one claims it, and doubts start creeping in. You judge the distance between yourself and the bag, and gauge if the support pillars might provide some protection. You weigh possibility of leaving the gate, and decide that it’s too neurotic, slightly embarrassing, and anyway doing so would take you closer to the bag, if only for a few moments.

Soon a number of people in my gate are looking at the bag. The gate attendant calls security. Another few minutes pass. If this were a Stephen King novel, the bag would seem to start pulsating malevolently. I force my nose back into my book. When I look up next, two minutes later, the bag is gone.

2. Last Monday, I fly from Logan to SFO. I want to eat my Dunkin’ Donuts meal before going through security. The airport is packed and the only empty seat I can find is next to another empty seat with a bag and an open book at its foot. Their owner is nowhere in sight. The bag is fashionable, and the book quite literary, and so I dismiss the chance that they might be some terrorist’s. I sit down and start reading the Globe’s coverage of the previous night’s Sox game. Then I begin to think…. well, if someone wanted to plant a bomb, maybe he’d intentionally use a good bag, etc. A minute later a uniformed security guard walks by and asks me, “Is this your bag?” “Nope,” I say, “It was here before I sat down.” “Okay, no problem.” He moves on. I suddenly think, in a very morbid way, that sitting this close to the bomb means that I’d die pretty much instantly, and hey, that’s not so bad. I would just wink out of existence, and being dead, I certainly wouldn’t regret not living anymore. I consider moving, but something makes me stay.

Two minutes later, a uniformed woman comes by, verifies that the bag is not mine, and tells me to get up and move away. “You never want to sit next to an unattended bag.” She radios for more security. I gather up my half-eaten meal and bags and shamble off. As I’m walking away, a young man comes out of a book store and claims the bags. The woman says, “Well, they’ve been unattended for a long time, and you’re in trouble,” and makes him sit two seats over while security comes. I drift out of earshot.

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9 Responses to

  1. vchou says:

    window seat

    a veteran of the coast-to-coast flight, i prefer red-eyes when traveling west-to-east and either way will sit in the window after having made myself as tired as possible. since i plan on sleeping for 3-4 hours of the flight, i will probably not drink any liquids and not have to sleep.

    however, my old boss used to demand the aisle seat when he travelled SF-DC. this is beacuse he liked to get up and walk around. me being the lazy sloth that i am do not have that problem.

    ps. “compulsive theorist” as a label really strikes home.

    • aj says:

      Re: window seat

      I agree about the red-eyes. But this flight was during the day, and I practically exploded. On the way back, though, I had a window seat and didn’t get up for the entire flight. Go figure.

      Yeah, “compulsive theorist” is an awesome title. And it describes him pretty accurately. I think that’s why we got to be good friends so fast. Well, that’s my theory, at least :).

  2. snafuuu says:

    Doh, just missed you. We’re done with the bar tomorrow evening and then apartment-hunting in Berkeley this weekend. We’re leaving out of San Jose Tuesday evening. Oh well. Have a good time in Boston!

    • aj says:

      Oops, I think my bizarre present-tense usage threw you off — I was actually in Boston this past weekend. And here (in Berkeley) now. If you guys have any time this weekend, definitely give me a call and we can meet up for lunch or whatever. I’ll even show you my place if you’d like for comparison :). I’ll email you my cell phone number right now!

  3. Anonymous says:

    dan and his wife look so beautiful! soo cute. oh man, it gives me all these fuzzies inside.


  4. rwclark says:

    On the subject of aisle or window, the following article might interest you:
    Elbow Etiquette.

  5. ccho says:

    Probably the one called “wedding_pictures_101” is not taken with your camera, although it easily could have been. Grant looks really tan — almost the same shade as that lotion that simulates the color of a tan.

    As far as the attention paid to unattended bags, I think it is just a method for comforting the public and very ineffectual in scaring off suicidal terrorists. I don’t think they nearly as careful and thorough as keeping people off the White House lawn.

    • aj says:

      Haha yeah, that’s the one. Also it’s the only one with me in it. But I do think that it’s quite obviously different in terms of picture quality. (Although perhaps this is harder to tell in the 800×600 version… but the over-exposure is a clue.)

      Grant actually *is* really tan… he’s been living it up in L.A. for the past couple of weeks.

      • ccho says:

        Ok, I didn’t pickup on that clue because I assumed that since it was shot into the sun, most point-and-shoot cameras (or any camera set on auto light metering) will average in the bright light for the exposure value. You would either want to use flash fill, do spot metering, or get a different angle. So the quality is worse than that of your camera? It looks a little bit like it was taken through a ceramic lens (found on most thin point-and-shoots and camera phones).

        Those sunflower-like flowers are pretty neat, I saw some in Battery Park a few weeks ago. I wanted to take some photos, but I never take my camera into the city.