I hate flying. It's not that I have a fear of flying or anything. It's just that I think that planes are like flying buses with less room and fewer pitstops.
Today I flew from Salt Lake to Baltimore so that I can spend a week with my family, looking for jobs in the Maryland area. Whenever I fly, I try to get as little sleep possible the night before so that I can sleep during the entire flight. I truly outdid myself last night---I was up till 5:00. I had filled my evening with traditional Valentine's Day activities and day-before-the-deadline freelance work. I only got about three hours of sleep total, which was actually rather exciting to me, since I thought it guaranteed that I'd sleep for the whole flight.
I did manage to sleep through take-off. I woke up shortly after, though, when the old lady next to me lowered my tray and put my snack pack in front of me. I would have preferred to keep on sleeping, but that was sweet of her anyway. Throughout the rest of the flight, I went in and out of sleep; I certainly didn't get the sleep that I had been hoping for. I slept in the full upright position. I slept in the reclined (by two inches) position. I slept with my face pressed up against the window. But mostly, I didn't really sleep. That's the point.
As the old lady's elbow was poking into my fleshy, tender underbelly, I was reminded that I've had better.
On March 31st, 2004, I went to catch my plane home from my mission. I went to the airport with another sister who was on a different flight that left at the same time. We said our goodbyes (they weren't particularly tender or difficult to say) and for the first time in eighteen months, I went off on my own. I found my gate and went to check in for my Alitalia flight. Apparently looking at luggage through x-rays wasn't going to be good enough for my luggage---they informed me that they'd have to poke through my luggage themselves.
So I happliy hoisted my humongous bag onto the table and opened it for the little baggage-check guy to look at. As he riffled through my stuff, I chatted to him about any interesting things in my luggage, as well as my entire experience in Italy and how much I was going to miss his country.
This experience seemed somewhat new to the Alitalia employees, who don't usually have someone so happy about having the contents of their luggage strewn all over the place. As I went back in line, with my luggage intact, to officially check in, I heard one employee say to another, "She was cute. Bump her up to first class."
And so it was that I was bumped up to first class for the first time in my life.
When I got on the plane and tried to take a left into first class, I was immediately blocked by an older gentleman who demanded to see my boarding pass, while starting to show me the way to coach (in Italy, missionaries are of the same class as street beggars and pickpockets). Upon seeing my boarding pass, he immediately apologized and escorted me to first class.
And what a class it was! I won't go into all the blissful details. I'll only say that after removing her elbow from my upper intestine this afternoon, the old lady beside me said that first class is like the celestial kingdom and coach... well, it sure as hell isn't the celestial kingdom.