Working on a plane can be a tricksy enterprise.
There are so many distractions – the tiny meals you can pretend you’re a giant with, the loud children you fondly dream of jettisoning mid-air with a packed lunch and a tiny parachute, the in-flight entertainment that you can secretly judge for your film review blog only your friends and a weird guy in Kansas reads (I joke, everyone knows Kansas doesn’t have the internet).
I find working in general difficult, but on a plane, nigh on impossible. There’s generally a feeling of pressure in my head and an overwhelming desire to have a snooze, not to mention the little extras that air travel likes to throw at you to keep you off the straight and narrow of Doing Your Work while trapped in a tin can for several hours.
In my latest experience, these have included: a highly intoxicated ‘business man’ in a light leather jacket who said something incomprehensible followed by “Robert” while extending his hand. When I shook it, he took the opportunity to stroke my palm with two of his fingers and then spent the next five minutes saying ‘Mmmm’ under his breath as he stared at my head, while I desperately tried to make it look like playing solitaire on an iPhone was the one thing I wanted in life (aside from a renewable, portable chocolate fountain).
Luckily this ‘distraction’ was removed fairly quickly when Robert tried the same antics on the cabin crew, who weren’t going to take any nonsense and suggested he sleep it off before firmly exiting him from the aircraft via the disarmed doors. One up to me, who quickly switched to Robert’s emergency exit seat and enjoyed the extra leg room all the way to Dubai.
Another distraction from work came in the form of a reported illness on board and the Captain’s casual mention that the plane would be checked by Quarantine. Cue various paranoid fantasies about guys in HAZMAT suits with Geiger counters standing over me and saying, as the scale went through the roof ‘We got a live one, let’s go DEFCON Two’. Or some equally likely situation.
In the end, I realised that alas, I would have to put my work off for another time, with no distractions or possible threats to national health, and no aeroplanes.
Alex Walls is a New Zealand journalist currently exploring Britain's climate (rain, cold, rain, more cold) and the art of terrible travel selfies. Follow her @lxwalls.