The cabin of the Boeing 737 was dimly lit, almost gloomy. The only light in the sparsely lit cabin came from small lamps positioned directly above passengers, who appeared to be squinting into the pages of their books or freshly purchased magazines. The musty smell of stale sweat hung in the air, surrounding us like the smog of Los Angeles. The first eighteen hours aboard the huge commercial airliner were rough; however the last leg of the thirty-six hour long flight was just about as unbearable as you could have it.
An hour into the first leg of the flight, I had tried to watch a movie, but found that my left earphone made a soft scratching sound, the right side, a high pitched drone. I would have asked for a new set, but I hadn’t seen a stewardess since our departure. I decided instead to get some rest. However, sleep would not come. A mothers baby began crying somewhere behind me. Its incessant screeching becoming almost unbearable. People around me began shuffling their feet, clearing their throats, coughing, anything to keep their minds off the ceaseless sounds of the crying baby. I got up to use the restroom.
Though I tossed and turned, sleep would not come to me and my torment of insomnia would not be eased. I had no leg room to speak of, and seating was so cramped that changing posture was out of the question. My feet were tucked under my seat, with my knees firmly pressed into the backrest of the chair in front of me. I was conscience of my knees because I could feel the gentleman’s knees behind me, digging into the back of my chair, and it was effectively a little more than uncomfortable. I had thought, momentarily, of easing my chair backwards, but dismissed it as visions of the gentleman’s legs behind me - jammed into a fetal position - flooded my weary mind.
The captain came over the loudspeaker, breaking the monotonous silence, “Buckle up folks! We will be arriving at our destination in approximately fifteen minutes and, LORD willing, we‘ll be able to get out and stretch our weary limbs a mite!” Sighs of relief were heard throughout the cramped air bus, and passengers began talking gleefully amongst themselves. I couldn’t help but feel the excitement in the air rise, and contagiously, it took control of me until I found myself looking around, smiling at no one in particular, and everyone at the same time. I had been watching the planes course religiously on a GPS monitor ever since we had taken off, and knew that finally, we had arrived at our halfway point!
Taxiing to Gate E was a jubilant time of light jokes and soft laughter. Even the baby had sensed something different in the atmosphere, and had stopped crying. Folks began turning off the dim lights above their heads, and began raising the blinds of their windows. A flood of light began tumbling in, lifting the gray and gloom, and lifting our hearts to happiness. Warmth began to fill the cabin as excitement spread like wildfire.