Every now and again, we come across someone who holds a torch to light the way ahead for us and we are eternally grateful to those passing strangers that set new standards for human endeavour. I am sure you can think of many of those individuals: Da Vinci, Newton, Einstein, Ghandi, Chaplin, Steve Jobs, etc. I would like to add another person to this list but sadly, I do not know his name so, let’s call him “Blanket Genius”.
Until this incident, I thought I had worked out a fool proof system for avoiding unwanted conversations with fellow air passengers. Family and friends vouch for my avoidance tactics which simply entail inserting earphones in my ears whether or not they were hooked up to any device; People are not likely to inspect you closely enough to ascertain a loose bit at the end of your earphones, are they? Anyway, this system had about 95% failsafe record. Not perfect, but good enough against the most determined of next seat chatterbox flyers.
One day, I settled down in my aisle seat, inserted the earphones and busied myself with the inflight magazine until take off where I could open my laptop or iPad. Shortly before the doors were closed, a middle-aged gentleman entered the cabin and stood silently in front of me seeking to be let in to the empty seat next me. I stood up and stepped aside to let him in, he said nothing, not even a “thank you” so, I returned to my seat and my routine. The doors were shut and the plane pushed off the stand ready for take off.
My silent neighbour opened a large plastic bag, took out a bottle of mineral water, earplugs and a blanket. He inserted the earplugs, downed the entire 1.1 litre of water in one gulp and unfurled his blanket. I assumed he was going to shroud his body with it and go to sleep but, I assumed wrong.
He took one corner in one hand and another corner in the other and ran the blanket over his head until he was satisfied his head was roughly in the middle of the blanket surface area, thus creating a net with his head as the net pole. He rummaged for his seat belt, which he buckled around himself and the blanket, sat back and went to sleep. This allowed me to turn to my right and inspect him more closely. The flight was about 3.5 hours and for the duration of the flight, he remained under the blanket and made no attempt at shifting, shuffling, going to the bathroom; nothing issued out of him until the announcement came telling the cabin crew to take their seats for landing in 2 minutes. He sat up, removed the blanket, folded it and placed it in his plastic bag, took out the disposable earplugs and placed those in the bag too. We landed and I let him go ahead of me, I wanted to watch the genius who showed me how to get a 100% fool proof “do not talk to me” system.
When I grow up, if I grow up, I want to be like him!