A quick Father’s Day trip to Chicago. I managed to arrive just at the moment Chicagoland transitions from moderate temperatures to a mini-heat wave (high today in the low to mid 90s; tomorrow, we’re supposed to have widespread thunderstorminess and temps in the low 80s; mid-70s on Monday).
The main question with which I come forth to the universe today is: Why would someone take a window seat on an airliner then not look out the window?
I flew out of Oakland at 6 a.m. Friday. The United flight I took used a 757, and every seat was taken. I got a middle seat in row 29. No big deal. For four hours of my life, I can accept living in a semi-reclined coffin position.
My preference, though, is always the window seat. I ignore the flight attendants’ suggestion to pull down the shade so that the icabin video monitors will be glare-free during the in-flight movies and sitcoms. My in-flight entertainment is everything I can see through that little window or window and a half I can see from the coach section. Takeoffs and landings are primo, because you’re close enough to the ground to see details of the landscape or cityscape below. But everything in between is riveting, too, from the Sacramento-San Joaqin Delta to the Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers (if you approach Chicago from the northwest).
Yesterday, a bleached-blonde and pink-topped and coral-fingernailed woman sat squeezed into the window seat on my right. Before we pulled away from the terminal, she was deep into a Danielle Steel novel (“Miracle,” I think it was; I read a passage in which someone named Quinn was realizing that “his life without her was a life sentence. Life without parole”). In the sliver of a view I could see beyond the book, patches of the Bay shore and the hills to the east and the Central Valley slid by). She never once glanced out the window. Of course, she could have just been nervous; she may not have wanted to be reminded how high and fast we were moving. But then: Why take the window seat? If Danielle Steel is what you want, you could pretty much ride in the cargo hold and get your money’s worth.
The little bit of a view I had went away when the flight attendant made the “shut-your-shade-to-avoid-video-glare” announcement. My rowmate pulled down the shades on command and didn’t open them again until we were within about 10 minutes of our landing. That was OK — it gave me a chance to take the nap I would have missed while I stared down at the Sierra, the basin and range of Nevada, the Utah canyon country, the Rockies, the plains and sandhills of Nebraska, the Missouri River, the ethanol-producing Iowa corn country, the Mississippi, the Illinois farmlands giving way to the suburbs and expressways and O’Hare.
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