My office reminds me of one giant airplane flight. Or maybe plane flights remind me of a day at the office. Or maybe I’m overworked and need to stop thinking about work when I’m on vacation.
I was lucky enough to travel this past week (complete with maybe a little bit of vacation guilt) and get away from it all. But in order to get to my destination, I had to take a long flight and enjoy all of the office parallels that come along with it.
1. Same job description.
On the plane, your directions are basically “Sit still and don’t fuck anything up,” which is also pretty much the unofficial job description of any entry-level office position. You’re sitting there, bored, staring out the window and wondering what it’d be like to be outside. You’re wishing you could get up and walk around, but there’s not really anywhere to go. You’ll probably take at least one not-completely-necessary trip to the bathroom just to break up the monotony.
2. Other passengers are your coworkers.
And you still hate talking to them. No Brenda, I don’t give a shit how your parent-teacher conference went yesterday. No, random sir beside me, I don’t care how many times you’ve flown to Florida or that you think the complementary snacks seem to be declining in quality. Luckily, putting in headphones seems to work well in any environment to signal “Don’t talk to me.”
3. No matter how well you plan, you will still get fucked by other people.
Get to the airport two hours early? Boom, looks like everyone within a 50-mile radius of you is flying today and half the TSA called in sick, so have fun waiting in an hour-long security line. Oh, you got to the gate half an hour early and are even diligently keeping an eye out for suspicious bags? Guess what, you’re switching to a gate on the opposite side of the terminal. You know how you planned that activity at your destination shortly after landing? Flight got delayed — you’ll be two hours late and miss it.
4. Flight attendants are middle management.
They do perform important roles, but every time you look at them you’re probably thinking their job isn’t that hard. And they still technically have authority over you, so you’re obligated to listen to even the pettiest requests: “Sir, will you please return your seat to the upright position? We haven’t reached cruising altitude.” Is the 1.25 inches that I reclined really going to make or break my safety on this 737?
5. Little things mean a whole lot more than they should.
Just like having the office-supplied mediocre coffee or the thrill of finding doughnuts in the break room, the little things go a long way to a make the day (trip) go by quicker. I will gladly devour some stale pretzels and a couple ounces of juice on the rocks in a little plastic cup on any flight.
6. A solid couple hours of productivity is framed by twice as many hours of bullshit.
If you’re anything like me (and if we’re both “millennials,” you’re probably exactly like me because “we’re all the same”), you get a few hours of solid work done by about lunch time. You’ve pretty much completed everything you have to do, but you can’t leave until 5:00. Similarly, you’ll actually cover the 600 miles you’re traveling in about an hour and a half, but the whole damn process seems to take half a day: getting to the airport early, parking, shuttle, security, boarding, landing, baggage claim, and finally post-flight transportation all reminds me more than a little of all the random stuff I have to do at work that is definitely not work.
So next time you swap the fluorescent lights and cheap carpet of the office for the equally fluorescent and cheap interior of a plane, think of it like another day in the office and you’ll be a seasoned pro. You already know how to phone it in through a day of work. .