Snots!



Three weeks of social isolation and quarantine have been a mixed bag for those of us lucky enough to be well. Some of us are managing it okay (hey! I didn’t know I had so many different pajama combinations) and some of us, well, not so much (who keeps drinking all my wine?). Overall, though, I would contend there are worse things than quarantine.

Right before we were asked to shelter in place, for example, I took an airplane ride to Alaska to see our son and his family. It’s a long trip from Boise to Nome and even without the Great TP Crisis of 2020, I knew it would be a difficult journey. I was seated in the last row of the plane and assigned to the middle seat, privy to flushing and other noises that emerge throughout a six-hour flight. Those sounds are not muffled, are unpleasant, and often are accompanied by a strange odor.

My seatmates were a gray-haired mother and adult son, surrounding me, but both infringing on my middle seat. I asked if they wanted to be seated together, but no, Son chose the window and Mom chose the aisle. Closer to the bathroom, she said. Away from Mom, he said.

Mom carried a tote that easily would have fit a litter of St. Bernards, but, alas, no dogs. Just tissue. Wads and wads of tissue, and by tissue, I mean the nose-blowing kind. The tissue paper made its appearance the second the plane door closed, when Mom immediately reached across me to hand about half of it to her son, who had scrunched away from her toward the window. He ignored her, but she continued poking at his arm, saying, “Son, you have to blow your nose when we take off. If you don’t, you’ll get an ear clog. Blow like this.” She demonstrated the blow: Honk. Snort. Honk. Snort. He followed directions, I am guessing, because he thought it easier than taking her chastisement. We took off: Honk. Snort. Honk. Snort. On either side of me.

At this point I was ready to jump from the plane, but it got worse. When we leveled off, Mom poked Son who ignored her, but she stretched across my body, saying to me, “Excuse me, could you pass his tissues back to me so that I can store them for our next leg?”

Indeed, there are worse things than being quarantined.