Trip type: Personal

Airline: Delta

Route: BOS-MSP

I am nothing if not a serious observer of my surroundings (sidebar: my parents used to call me The Hall Monitor of Life because of my intense scrutiny and cataloging of those around me). I am completely fascinated (and sometimes horrified/annoyed) at how people react when their options are limited. Clearly, an airport is an amazing place to observe human nature…everyone is captive and forced to make due with the resources at hand.

On my flight home from a whirlwind weekend with my college girlfriends in Boston, my interest was piqued by my neighbor, a young woman who had the center seat to my left. She got on the plane very late, but came from the back of it, as though she had gotten all the way down the center aisle only to realize she was sitting in 10E and not 30E.

I didn’t think much of her at first (although I was really amused by her actually reading the safety card. I do usually glance at the emergency door if I’m in an exit row so that I won’t embarrass myself if I actually have to save lives, but I can’t recall the last time I’ve looked at the actual overview. I mentally applauded her effort.) and swiftly partook in my usual pre-takeoff nap. Once awakened by the 10,000 foot bell going off, I took out my iPad and fired it up. My neighbor took out her laptop and started it up as well and this was where things got more interesting–at least from an anthropological perspective.

As you can probably tell (from my last post alone), I’m over-prepared for every occasion. (I even have two sets of headphones in my carry-on in case one gets misplaced. God forbid I can’t hear Jack Donaghy.) So you can imagine my fascination when my seat mate (let’s just call her SM), pretty much had nothing with her for entertainment–not a magazine, an iPod, an abacus…nothing.

SM logged onto the plane’s WiFi but didn’t want to buy GoGo from Delta, so she just perused the sites advertising on delta.com. After looking at every Guess item on gilt.com (I’m not that nosy–this took over an hour…very methodical), she gave up on the computer and shut it down. SM then moved on to the Delta magazine, flipping through it in an agitated manner a few times. She then went back to the emergency exit overview before remembering she had her phone with her. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a smartphone, so it was rendered useless pretty quickly.

At this point I was almost giddy as I awaited her next move (“Is this what Jane Goodall felt like with her binoculars?” I asked myself). Unfortunately, it was to nap for the duration of the flight so that was rather anticlimactic. I’m sure Jane could empathize.