Virgin Altantic Flight Number 401.Destination: London
Airports are always worth a good story.Dubai International is no exception.A pristine, open and airy facility lined with fake palm trees and endless shopping districts.My friend and I mused one day how ridiculous it is that luggage is sold in airports."Honey, don't worry about packing.Just throw it all in a grocery sack and we'll pick up some luggage at the airport."Seriously.I'm sure those aren't a top seller.People generally come prepared.Generally.But here at the Dubai Airport, you can buy a luxury vehicle."Honey, don't worry about long-term parking fees.We'll just buy another Lexus at the airport."I'm sure there must've been a wedding hall somewhere in that mall…er... I mean airport.Those are a big deal in the Middle East.But no matter how nice that place is there was no escaping the muggy view outside the windows.Reminded me a bit of Los Angeles.Except for a WHOLE LOT LESS LIBERAL.Women in full-dress, black burkas… Men in their all-white Man-jammies… That's another thing.It's well over 100 degrees the majority of the year in that region.I get the point behind cultural protection of modesty and such… but black?! The men get to wear reflective white and the women have to wear absorptive black. That's just cruel.But don't mind me… I'm just being a rational American here.Lastly about the airport:How many times does a person need to x-ray their bags and take off their shoes?You think you're safe when you get to your gate.But alas… both your passport and body cavities need a third scrutinizing before getting on the plane.Really.
I've never flown Virgin Atlantic before.A very colorful interior, but very reminiscent of the flight I took to Korea or the Philippines. Now, I'm not a big person, but I can't help that my bone structure alone is much denser than those of Asian decent.Economy is a very tight fit on this plane.Quite tight indeed. The crew on this flight is British, no doubt, by their accents.Plastic smiles and even more plastic communicative pleasantries abound.During "Duty Free" retail therapy time, the flight attendant turns to the person behind me and says, "80 of your finest Durhams, please?" (Emphasis actual).They are so polite when asking people to fork over more money.And the way they speak to one another makes me chuckle:"Let's get a move on, honey bunny."Reminds me of an old lady in the south saying, "Oh bless your little heart…" I catch the drift.One can't complain.They are "being nice."Truly though.On my flight on Lufthansa to Germany about five years ago, I remembering the German women not being so 'nice.'I expected a cage match to spontaneously break out.Or on the hopper flights going into a combat zone, you'd be lucky to get water from the flight attendant.They'd rather remain buckled in their seats, in case something happened.Can't imagine why…One thing that did impress me on this flight was the amenities.There was one that stroked happiness onto my heart.They give out cheeky hot socks to their passengers.As many of my constituents know, the way to this woman's heart is through her feet.I know someone loves me when they give or send me a pair of outrageous socks.The socks I'm picked up from this flight are red with a tiny printed airplane leaving a white trail of swirly smoke across the toes.Utterly fabulous.Simple things amuse me.
But before leaving I also picked up a book, knowing there was only so much airline movies and television I could stand to watch.A dear friend once told me that airports are a good place to grab a mindless or fun read from the gift shop.Her advice was less a suggestion and more of a mandate, actually.So now when I fly, I try my hardest to comply… but I can't seem to justify wasting valuable terminal time not feeding my habitual need to be productive.So I compromise.I look for something that both educates and engages in some sort of entertaining way.This time I picked up a book by Malcolm Gladwell.I do believe it's his fourth, behind The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers - all of which I have started, but have yet to finish.Now, it hasn't been for lack of interest or a flaw in his writing abilities.Rather, it's more of a matter of timing. I believe books have the potential to become pivotal instruments at particular times in our lives.If at one time a certain book does not appeal to or resonate with me, then it just isn't time for that book.But I don't consider it a loss.Instead, I set in on the shelf to wait for the right time and the right 'Summer' to be ready for it.So why try yet another book of Gladwells?There was a goofy looking dog on the cover and he called the book, What the Dog Saw (and other adventures).Knowing Malcolm's previous writings to contain heavier content, it was the silliness of the cover and title that made me think twice.In this book he ventures to find the magnificent of the mundane… the miraculous within mediocrity - the rich stories of real life.That peaked my interest.I've always believed that people tend to gloss over some of the greatest stories that ordinary life holds.I'm no different.I miss a whole lot while existing in my own self-absorption.Malcolm promised to tell me incredible things in this selection of his adventures.So far?I am hooked.
In his preface he writes, "self-consciousness is the enemy of 'interestingness.'"There I sat, waiting on my plane dressed like some National Geographic adventurer fresh out of the Outback - complete with my Afghani camel leather cowboy hat and purple striped reading glasses - FAR from self-conscious.I've become quite comfortable in my own skin and often say to myself, "I am who I am, and that is enough."He goes on to say how he had never set out to be a writer, but sort of "fell into it."It shows.His writing reads more like a conversational recount than a dictatorial lecture.I appreciate that.At least, I do now.It makes me wonder if Malcolm has always written that way, but now I'm at a point in my life where I'm able to see it.
Presently I am trying to discover what abilities I have with writing, testing the waters where and when I can find the courage.Something I read in this book helps prop up that pursuit.Gladwell wrote:
"Nothing frustrates me more than someone who reads something of mine or anyone else's and says, angrily, 'I don't buy it.'Why are they angry?Good writing does not succeed or fail on the strength of its ability to persuade… It succeeds or fails on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else's head - even if in the end you conclude that someone else's head is not a place you'd really like to be."
Rock on, Malcolm.Rock on.My sentiments exactly.I'll take it a step further and say that I feel even more frustrated when I receive no feedback at all.Are people afraid of offending or hurting my feelings?They shouldn't be.I don't put myself out there to seek validation or accolades.I submit myself to a measure of vulnerability in an effort to grow.The best service a person could do for me, instead of sheltering me, is just say something.On the other hand, if a person doesn't have time, or the want to make time to read something I asked for feedback on, then the least that person could do is tell me so.Where has the transparency in communication gone?To the dogs??Well Malcolm… tell me What the Dog Saw.I'm sufficiently engaged and so, as a writer, you have succeeded already.To my dear friend who mandated that I find a mindless or funny story to read on my flight?Well… I've satisfied a part of that requirement, too.Reading about the life and times of the "Chop-O-Matic" inventors/salesmen is surprisingly quite humorous:"…He picked up a package of barbecue spices and used it as a prop.'Take a look at this!'He held it in the air as if he were holding up a Tiffany vase."Or how there is even philosophy behind the story of ketchup.No seriously.Deep thinking there!Right up my alley.The book made for a great in-flight companion.