Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Gate Agent's Conundrum

I hold my phone close, but the boarding pass scanner rejects me. The agent guarding the gate gestures me to scoot sideways towards his colleague at the podium.

Podium Colleague does not make eye contact, she sighs as she pokes at her keyboard.

"Your seat has been reassigned to someone with higher status," she informs.

I say nothing as she resumes her clicks and sighs.

"We do have two empty seats. One is next to a Mr. Werner Herzog, and the other a Mr. Henry David Thoreau."

I don't want to sit next to either. I recoil from celebrities, I have too much respect for myself to need to be in their shadows. Besides, there is a high probability neither has bathed.

A flight attendant jump seat was not an option.

Thoreau might be an option, as I suspect he would ignore me. I don't mind a few pleasantries, but I like to be left alone on a long flight.

But I might find Herzog interesting. If he's talkative, I could try to steer him towards the subject of walking, particularly his crazy walk from Munich to Paris in 1974 to keep a dying friend alive. Maybe I would ask about his Minnesota Declaration at Minneapolis's Walker Art Center in 1999, but I would avoid item 10:
10. The moon is dull. Mother Nature doesn't speak to you, although a glacier eventually farts. And don't you listen to the Song of Life.
Item 7 might be a better conversation starter:
7. Tourism is sin, and travel on foot virtue.
Hey, maybe I could try to steer Thoreau towards the subject of walking, an activity we both favor. Maybe we could have an actual conversation about his little-known 1861 visit to Minneapolis.

But chances are I would find his introspection just too tedious.

Ultimately, I find Herzog more compelling. On his 1974 walk he broke into empty houses. Later he made a movie about a guy who moved a steamship up and over a hill in the Amazon. Nature was defeated.

"Maybe Herzog and Thoreau should sit together," I offer.

That apparently is not an option.

Finally I opt for Thoreau because he would be more likely to be sober and disinterested in conversation. Perhaps a groupie will lean on my seat and spout facts gleaned from a skim of Walden CliffsNotes. I'll offer to swap seats.

  • Thoreau's Walking and Herzog's Of Walking on Ice are quick reads.
  • I'm developing a walk around Thoreau's 1861 visit to Minneapolis.
  • My actal (nonfiction) Tokyo Narita departure pictured at the top of this post made it as far as the runway before it had to turn back to the terminal. The flight was then cancelled; seating arrangements were moot.

No comments:

Post a Comment