On the flight back from New York, I was seated next to an eccentric older woman who seemed to think everyone’s job was to keep her entertained, informed, or/and comfortable. She asked a guy across the aisle to help her put her suitcase in the overhead bin, and then five minutes later asked him to pull it back down so she could search through it for reading materials. After she finally took her seat, she looked over at the novel I was reading.
She: “So you like Joseph Conrad?”
Me: “Yes, I do.”
She: “I have a first edition of one of his books.”
She: “I can’t remember the title, though. It’s the one about the boat captain.”
Me: “Several of his books have boat captains. Is it Heart of Darkness?”
Me: Lord Jim?
She: That one. But, you know, I don’t care for his writing.
Me: Oh no?
She: I bought the book because he’s so famous and a first edition of his is very valuable, which is what I’m interested in.
I must have had a horrified look on my face, because she immediately asked, “Wait, are you someone who’s into books? Are you a writer?” I nodded, and then took out my reading glasses to signify that I wanted to read now, and to please leave me alone, but she wouldn’t shut up. I got to hear about her earlier flight, the troubles she had with security people, etc. She complained that the coffee was lukewarm (“It’s a plane,” the attendant quipped), got drunk on red wine, snored when she slept, and woke me up when I finally managed to doze off so she could go use the bathroom. Every time I travel on an airplane, I become more of a misanthrope.