Monday, February 4, 2008

Travel rituals

Big or small - we all have a travel ritual. It's the routine or pattern of one or more activity that we do before a long train, bus or plane trip. The ritual is calming and reassuring and makes the inevitable journey manageable.

As no shock to some, I have my own pre-plane ritual that helps me feel comfortable before a flight. As a kid, my dad, brother and I used to travel every summer and it was no problem to board a plane and head off into the sky. I don't think I need to explain now why I'm so uncomfortable with doing so, but it's all a mental "fake out" the evening before a trip. And now, given my "healthier" diet, I am very excited about the ritual that I will continue at O'Hare tomorrow.

Once I'm through security and my bags have been checked, my ritual goes in this order:
  • Browse through the magazines at the closest newsstand and the candy at the register but ultimately do not buy anything
  • Find the closest McDonald's for a very unhealthy meal of cheeseburger, fries and a soda
  • Sit near the gate with my food and eat, while watching television
  • Call my dad to catch up
  • Multiple checks to make sure I have my ticket, wallet, keys (even though I won't need them for a while) and hotel information
  • Call or text some friends to bother them during work or their free time
  • Once boarding begins, I hoard to the front of the crowd, in the hopes that my row will magically be called first (it's not)
  • Before boarding, call my dad again to tell him that I'm getting on the plane and that I love him
  • Board the plane and begin daydreaming about it already landing in my destination

Seeing this list actually written down, I realize that it looks totally neurotic or panicky, but it is what gets me on the plane every single time and has delivered me safely. So crazy, yes, but if you want me on that plane, you must indulge me.

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