The Proverbial Sardine in a Can ~

At this moment I think I understand the feeling of the proverbial sardine in a can. I am currently somewhere around 30,000 feet trapped in a tin cylinder with about 240 other sardines. The man sitting next to me is probably 6’2” if he’s an inch and although I pity him, practically folded in half in his middle seat, no way am I giving up my aisle seat for anyone.

Just across the aisle from me sits Abi, and behind him is a woman who was asleep before we even taxied out to the runway. Oh, how I envy the sardines who can sit down, close their eyes, drop their jaw open and snooze blissfully unaware until it’s time to land this tin can.

Packed in like sardines

Packed in like sardines


I’m not sure Orville and Wilbur were aware of the Pandora’s Box they opened all of those years ago. I wonder what they would think if they could see us now. Or see me sitting here drafting a post on my laptop; definitely a first for me, writing a post while soaring through the clouds; although there is barely room for me to have said laptop in my lap. I fervently hope the man in front of me doesn’t recline his seat. And by the way, I’m pretty sure he bathed in cologne before boarding the flight.

Gone are the days when flight attendants demonstrate emergency procedures, now, just watch the monitor, please.

Gone are the days when flight attendants demonstrate emergency procedures.  Now, it’s all about just watch the monitor, please.

I hate to fly. There isn’t one single thing I enjoy about the experience – other than it gets me where I want/need to be. But if I could ride the rails, drive a car or ride a bicycle, I’d choose any other mode of transportation there is, over getting on a plane. It’s a long story but nearly 40 years ago (yes, I’m that old) I endured one scary ass turbulent situation in a single engine plane and the memory of that day stills ring clear every time I fly. And it’s not the take-offs and landings that bother me – not at all – it’s the slightest hint of turbulence and I’m back in that single engine plane.

But as much as I hate to fly, I’m a pretty big fan of airports. I love people watching and I can’t help but wonder what their stories are. Where they’re going, where they’ve been, are they happy, sad or indifferent? And if you’re as old as I am you remember – like I do – when there was no such thing as TSA, security screenings, full body scans, etc. etc. I remember walking right up to the gate to greet someone or say good-bye. It made for great airport melodramas.

Chicago O'Hare Airport

Chicago O’Hare Airport

Now, it’s just a royal pain in the ass to get through security. Although… yesterday morning I was granted a random TSA preapproval and it was all kinds of fabulous. I just walked right through security. I did not have to take off my shoes; I did not have to pull out my laptop or my prescription meds. I just smiled at the happy TSA agents and breezed through. Of course now I’m completely spoiled and will be even more impatient standing in the long lines.  Sadly, Abi did not get super special preapproval and so off came his belt and shoes, out came his laptop and because he had a couple of credit cards in his front pocket, which he was asked to remove, they actually swiped his hands. Who the hell knows what they were looking to find on his hands. But the question begs to be asked… if I can be randomly selected to breeze right through (my bags and my body were x-rayed) why can’t everyone? Are the game rules changing? One can only hope.

So here we are, after a night of no sleep, back in one of our favorite cities, Washington, D.C.  See, this is where flying comes in handy because one can get all the way across the country in a matter of hours, rather than a matter of days.  But I’d still rather take a train or hit the road!

Our flying tin cyclinder

Our flying tin cylinder


28 Responses to The Proverbial Sardine in a Can ~

  • Enjoy Washington DC and say hi to Monkey Lady and Darrel

  • All it takes is one “scary ass” experience with turbulence to make a person fearful of flying. I know many many other people in the same position. It’s extra tough when the flight is super full. But you’re right – working can take your mind off the stress of it all – good for you!
    Michele Peterson recently posted…8 Detox secrets from Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita, Riviera MayaMy Profile

    • Yes, it would be nice if after so many decades I could get beyond the memories, but alas… it’s not meant to be. Thanks so much for reading!

  • My hubby would rather drive everywhere and if there is such a thing as a reincarnated driver – he was a driver in his former life! I love to fly and get there quickly, although getting scrunched between huge and smelly people is drag.

    I’m a licensed skydiver, so flying is always fun even if I have to land with the plane and not get the signal to jump out.
    Neva @ Retire for the Fun of it recently posted…Ride on The Impossible RailroadMy Profile

    • Licensed skydiver?! Whoa! That’s something. No way not ever. I’m with your husband and the driving because I love road trips!

  • It’s a necessary evil to take these monsters…how i really dread being in the middle seat – pity the guy at 6,2′
    noel recently posted…Filbert steps in San Francisco,Travel Photo Mondays #44My Profile

    • The middle seat is never fun. A few years ago hubby and I started choosing aisle seats – across from each other – and it works pretty well. It’s a little harder to chat, but it’s much more comfortable.

  • Patti, I am not a big fan of flying either. We’re heading across the Atlantic in just three weeks, and the flying is the worst part. I do love airports…not the security parts….as well! Enjoy DC!
    Corinne recently posted…Qatar’s One and Only World Heritage Site – Al ZubarahMy Profile

    • Oh, those are long flights. On our last trip to Europe we flew from Oregon to D.C. to Paris – whew! The only good thing is those flights are usually super big airliners and the sardines are not packed quite as tightly!

  • Glad to see I’m not alone in hating flying….Just couldn’t resist commenting. You remembered the good ol’ days when we could all just go to the gate accompanied by friends or family….how about the really good old days…when your goodie tray included a pack of cigarettes!!?? And not just to adults. I was in 9th & 10th grades. And probably later on smoking was restricted to the 1st 4 rows or something.

    • I do remember! One row would be smoking and then next row, non-smoking – like it made a difference, right?! Crazy! I’m so glad you commented!

  • Loved your post, the picture and the metaphor!
    Air travel has become quite a hassle most of the time, unfortunately. How thankful we are for little favors like an aisle seat and a pass through TSA:-)
    Irene S. Levine recently posted…The murky rules of tipping: When, who and how muchMy Profile

    • Thanks Irene! I felt inspired by my level of uncomfortableness; I love it when a post practically writes itself, don’t you?!

  • I despise flying too, but like some airports as well. I always fly economy, but got VERY lucky and upgraded to first class from LA to Tokyo. We had beds, curtains, fussy food, It ruined me for life! feeling like a sardine in a can is a great analogy!
    Michelle recently posted…Why I’m Glad I Visited Bali and Why I Won’t ReturnMy Profile

    • We too have had the experience of flying first class and I completely agree that it spoils you for life!

  • Four days ago, we took our 16th flight since January 6th from San Francisco to Boston, so I feel your pain. Actually, after our longest day (flying from Philadelphia to Chiang Mai, Thailand— without leaving planes or airports) mere transcontinental flights don’t seem so bad. (Feel free to remove this link if it violates your comment policy).

    I’m also getting addicted to TSA PreCheck. From what I’ve read, it’s the airlines who suggest people to TSA who meet the TSA criteria. I’ve had TSA pre-check on my last five flights—different airlines. I also think it helps to be a woman of a certain age. My husband also didn’t get Precheck when I did the first time, but he has ever since. (I think hanging out with a woman of a certain age also helps 😉

    PS: I suspect the woman who passed out before you even taxied for take-off was medicated. On one of our recent flights, my husband “volunteered” when the flight attendant asked if there were any medical personnel on the flight. He was taken to see an elderly woman who was completely unresponsive. He was quite convinced she was dead until he realized that her vital signs were normal. It turns out her daughter had given her some ambien and then some wine to wash it down.
    Suzanne Fluhr recently posted…“If You Want to Make God Laugh, Tell Him about Your Plans” — Carpe Diem EditionMy Profile

    • Oh my that’s a lot of flights! I’m hoping we both get the TSA preapproval for our flights home; it make life so much easier! I’ve never known anyone who actually was able to respond to, “Is there a doctor on board?!” 😉

  • You hit the nail on the head, Patti, when you mention being spoiled. I’ve had the good fortune to fly biz class or better on several long haul flights and now have trouble if/when I have to fly economy. It’s like drinking fine wine. Once you’ve developed a taste for it, it’s hard to go back to drinking slop. But all in all I still enjoy flying as it gets me to the places I want to be.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Fairmont Orchid is my kind of placeMy Profile

    • That’s a great analogy, fine wine – first class seats! Flying does get me where I want to go, but I’ve accepted the fact that I will never be comfortable. Oh well, at least I’m able to tolerate it enough to make my destination!

  • I guess I’ve always flown sardine and it’s the worse part about travel. I’d rather drive any day, though it’s just not always possible.
    Gaelyn recently posted…More than zebras at Mountain Zebra National ParkMy Profile

  • My gosh I think I could write a sitcom based upon all of the crazies I observe on planes. I think this is a great topic for a post, just every day life…on a plane! Thank you for the reminder!
    Suzanne Stavert recently posted…Designer Fashion on a Budget in New York CityMy Profile

    • Thanks for reading Suzanne and I agree about the sitcom idea. People continue to slay me with some of the behaviors, funny or otherwise!

  • That single-engine plane incident sounds nasty. I experienced the worst turbulence on a very small plane in Borneo at the beginning of our trip which has scarred me too; at one point the plane literally dropped so suddenly I flew off my seat; I wasn’t the only one who screamed. Now, like you, whenever I feel the slightest turbulence it makes me panicky. I love all your observations about people on planes and flying though, they are so true! Have a great time in Washington 🙂
    Amy recently posted…Angkor Wat Cambodia – Temple Hopping Part OneMy Profile

    • That’s pretty much what happened to me, Amy. We hit a pocket of turbulence and I came out of my seat belt and then we bounced all over the sky until we landed about 20 minutes later. We’ll have to be brave! 😉

  • I have almost cured myself of the gripping fear I used to have of flying. Fear caused by a lightning strike very close to the plane I was on, maybe it caught a wing, I’m not sure it was along time ago and people were screaming.It was a very scary experience for me but as I said. I am pretty good with flying part. Not so good with the sardine can feeling. Planes feel smaller inside every time I get on, there has to be a limit to how many seats they stuff inside, right?:)
    Tracey recently posted…5 Things I Did To Stay Positive When We Were Waiting To TravelMy Profile

    • You would think so, wouldn’t you?! What a frightening experience for you. I haven’t yet been on a flight when anyone screamed, although there have been times when I was screaming inside. 😉

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We are Patti and Abi. We retired early to live a simpler life, travel the world and hopefully, inspire others to redefine retirement.


3 years, 104 days ago!





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