My First True Love upon Return to the States: The Office
It's a lottery when you travel alone - who will you end up seated next to on a fifteen-hour flight from Delhi to Chicago?
A. Silent, sleeping types
B. Talkative but courteous types who shut up the minute you put on headphones or read the in-flight magazine
C. Garrulous types who keep on asking questions or giving you their life histories, even when you close your eyes to take a nap.
D. Business executive types who bring out their laptops the minute the captain gives the "Electronics good to go" speech - they're almost an extinct species in the economy class.
E. Mom with a crying baby on her lap. It makes me want to suffocate the kid.
F. Mom with a calm, cooing baby on her lap. It makes me happy.
G. Coughing, hacking grandpa. I wonder about his past: Was he a smoker? Does he have bronchitis? Is he traveling alone, too? Does he have any teeth left?
H. Supremely annoying types who watch the in-flight entertainment and burst out laughing manically every five minutes or cry at the end of the featured drama movie.
That's me. I'm H.
Yes, I confess to my crime of being one of the people You Fear Sitting Next to on a Plane. But it was my first time in 31 months that I had a television that wasn't blasting Bollywood music videos or horrible Arabic soap operas. I took advantage of my personal TV to watch three episodes of a TV show that I'd heard mentioned in the Peace Corps circle: The Office.
It was hilarious. I laughed out loud, unabashed that Steve Carrell's poker face amused me that much. And who is this Dwight character? Is he supposed to be mentally retarded on the show? If he is, great; if he isn't, great. I loved him either way.
Every 2 or 3 minutes, I'd burst out with a series of spastic laughs, and since I couldn't hear myself (I was wearing headphones and suffering an ear infection that rendered me deaf in my left ear), I didn't bother to tone it down. I mean, how else would you react when Steve Carrell burns his foot on a grill and then his coworker pops the plastic bubble wrap that his foot is wrapped in? What was I supposed to do when Dwight showed up in a kurta (traditional Indian men's dress) at a Diwali dinner and then tried to dance? And I couldn't help myself when Steve Carrell thought the samosas were s'mores and spit them out mid-chew on his plate.
Honestly, it felt great. The Office was hilarious and just the type of American humor that I missed while abroad. The only disappointing thing was that American Airlines had only three episodes available. But next time you sit next to someone like me, resist that urge to slap them silent, because who knows? They could just be enjoying some comedy after years of deprivation from entertainment as legendary as The Office.
Let them have their laugh (or 2, or 3...maybe 67). It would've been quite tragic if I would've tried to suppress any laughter - most likely, I would've wound up with snot all over my hand and that TV screen in front of me.