Tuesday, January 10, 2006

dazed: why I hate the red-eye

I'll go a year without once taking the red-eye and then all of a sudden I start thinking, hey, I can do this, I'm a macho, "get it done" kind of guy, sure I can take the red-eye instead of staying over an extra night. I've got "stuff to do", and "times-a-wastin'". I'm a "captain of industry" after all, and sometimes the captain needs to be on deck.

(Inject your favorite self-indulgent fantasy of overweening corporate worth here if you'd like.)

So imagine my alarm when 11:30pm (pacific) came and I found myself sitting in SFO staring at the bars across Peets Coffee and every other merchant in the concourse and I saw the looks of abject dread on the faces of everyone seated at gate 86 near me and I realized that I was well and truly screwed.

For I of course had conveniently forgotten that I, in fact, hate the red-eye. I forgot all those other times. . .
. . .like the one time I ended up flush against the window on a front bulkhead seat for 8 hours from SFO to LaGuardia on some Airbus sky taxi wedged next to Attila the Flatulent, praying for death, swearing I would leave the software business and go be a circus carny or something respectable. . .
Through some fluke of logistics or perhaps the collective wisdom on the part of other travellers, I was able to obtain a center seat with three (3) free seats in front of me, three (3) free seats in back of me, and one (1) seat on either side of me. I felt (inexplicably) blessed, and prepared myself for an attempt at sleep. Four hours, dude, you can do it. Spit in the face of your past failures, rise up and "be the ball".

Were it not for the regularly scheduled turbulence and the sodium-flare brightness of "The Corpse Bride" on the dozens of monitor screens glaring down at me from the roof of the cabin, I might have gotten that sleep. But no. Every hour it was bong seatbelt time!! and here come the "flight attendants" to "make sure I have my seatbelt on" and the curiously loud announcement from the "captain" who I endowed with the new title "sleep prevention officer".

I reached for the eject button to spew my tormentors into the icy void of the upper atmosphere, but alas, no such button presented itself to my searching hands.

My other horrid miscalculation was a failure to correctly estimate the amount of space it takes a six-foot-tall American (read: bulky) male to arrange himself into anything vaguely resembling a comfortable sleeping position, even when presented with the opportuntity to "recline" across three seats. It wasn't pretty.

And so at 5:45 this morning, shuffling through Terminal C and through the Tunnel of Epileptic Seizures back to the main terminal, a final insult was delivered when I caught a brief glimpse of myself in a mirrored surface and was treated to one of the most hideous cases of "bed head" I've noted on anyone in a very, very long time. I looked like an immodest blend of hung-over cattle wrangler and, dare I say it, circus carny.

My fears had been realized. I had to be at work before noon, because I had, you know, meetings. With co-workers. All of whom had a lot more sleep chits stored in their brainstem than I had. And here I am looking like a hung-over cattle wrangling circus carny.

Later in the day I discovered (again) why God made caffeine, and thanked Him repeatedly for graciously creating so many exciting ways for me to ingest it. Many of which I explored, to great effect, and in immoderate quantity.

And so now, I look up at the clock and see it is 10:30pm, central. I am officially overtired, and incapable of sleep. My heart rattles like a frustrated child contemplating violence, and my eyeballs feel like very, very lean baseballs of bacon.

I will forget all of this, and some time in the not-too-distant-future, I'll get all macho and think, I can do this, because I'm a macho "get it done" kind of guy.

Remind me then that it's a bad idea, OK? I promise to listen.

1 comment:

You Mon Tsang said...

I fall into the same trap. Sometimes you have to do it, but the only way now is to make sure I get 2-4 hours of sleep when I arrive on the East Coast. Check in early to the hotel, crash, wake up semi-refreshed. And perhaps you can be half a human.