I spend a lot of time on planes, but it’s usually a few hours week from short-haul flights within Europe. For me, these are short periods where I behave like luggage, putting myself into storage, trying to pretend that I have a hibernation button like my laptop.
This week I’m flying from Geneva to Auckland via Zurich and Singapore. The first flight is 30 minutes (although it arrived 20 minutes late – only the trains run on time in Switzerland). The second flight is 11 hours followed by 3 hour stop over in Singapore followed by a 9 hour 40 minute flight to New Zealand.
That’s way too long to treat yourself as luggage. I figure that how I behave when confronted with the prospect of 20+ hours isolated in a steel tube will tell me something about myself.
Should I plug myself in to the movie stations and see how many I can watch before I arrive and how many I can remember afterwards?
Should I try to fall back to the luggage option and see how much sleep I can get?
Should I be diligent and power up my laptop and work?
Should I be creative and push to finish one of the stories that are currently in limbo on my c-drive waiting to find out how they finish and what they mean. Makes me think of myself as a work in progress, waiting to find out how and when I will end and whether it will have meant anything.
The one option not on my list is to talk to my fellow passengers and make new friends or new business contacts. That says a lot about me, I think, and not necessarily something good.
I’m in business class on Singapore Airlines in seats slightly wider and more comfortable than the ones in the photograph above. I’m surrounded by Swiss business folks from the Banks and the Pharmaceutical companies. There are conversations about the joys and risks of playing polo, of the property market values in Singapore, of whether the new iPad has a good enough camera to make the change in functions worthwhile. No conversations I want to take part in. No conversations I think I belong in.
I feel like the interloper here. I am travelling on business; a client that we owe a favour who wants and expert to turn up in New Zealand and help them work out a strategy for something important to them. I’m looking forward to it. They’re nice people and its an interesting problem. Unfortunately it’s on the other side of the planet. Still, this, in my mind, doesn’t give me a ticket for one into the Zurich business community.
Right now, I’m still on the ground in Zurich, nearly two hours after we should have left. There’s a fault in the heating system that they are trying to fix. I’m hoping they manage it. My week is totally screwed if I don’t make the connection at Singapore.
Seems iconic, being totally screwed if I don’t make a connection over which I have very little control.
Two hours in the steel tube – on the ground – and already I’m maudlin.
Note to self: never try sensory deprivation therapy – you won’t make it out of the tank.
Time to go. I hope.
They’ll close the door and I’ll find out a bit more about who I am from the choices I make.