I am sitting with hundreds of people whose mothers never taught them to talk with inside voices. Like the two women behind me.

NEW YORK—LaGuardia Airport is located in the Queens borough of New York, smack dab in the Fifth Circle of Hell.

The airport is big, rundown, covered in bubblegum wads, and full of angry people who are waiting for delayed flights. I am told that LaGuardia always has thousands of delayed flights.

In fact, three quarters of New York’s population is comprised of airline passengers, most from the Midwest, who have been waiting for a flight home since 1940. They are sleeping atop their luggage, huddled in various corners, living on breath mints.

I am sitting with hundreds of them. Most of these are people whose mothers never taught them to speak with inside voices. Like the two women behind me.

One woman says loudly, “Have you ever seen that one movie with, oh… What’s his name?”

“What movie?” says the other.

“It has that movie star… Oh, what’s that movie? He was real funny.”

“Chevy Chase?”

“No, not Chevy Chase.”

“I love Chevy Chase.”

“I don’t remember the name of the movie.”

“Look it up on your phone.”

“My phone’s dead.”

“Why don’t you charge it?”

“I forgot my charger.”

“Are you sure it wasn’t Chevy Chase?”

“No. It wasn’t Chevy Chase.”

“Chevy Chase was in a lot of movies.”

“I’d remember if it was Chevy Chase.”

“I like Chevy Chase.”

“I wonder what ever happened to him?”

“Who? Chevy Chase? He’s still going at it.”

“Chevy Chase is?”

“Chevy Chase won’t quit.”


“Did I ever tell you about my hysterectomy?”

Sweet Jesus.

Beside me are boys playing games on smartphones. They barely speak. They are not even in this world. Their heads are craned forward. They are staring at bright screens.

Every few minutes one shouts something like, “HAHA! I JUST DECAPITATED YOU!”







Maybe I should be concerned about America’s youth. But of course these are just kids having a little old-fashioned fun. What’s a little decapitation among friends?

But I’m not being fair. Not everyone here is all that bad. There is a sweet old man, for instance, seated on my left. He is infected with H1N1 Swine Flu.

Each time he hacks, without covering his mouth, he says to his wife, “How high was my fever before we left the house?”

Which leads to more hacking.

He turns to another woman and says, “Don’t worry, the doctor said it’s not contagious. Not after four rounds of antibiotics.”

Anyway, our delay is almost over and we are about to board at any second now. The airline representatives keep telling us this.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” the intercom voice says, “we are sorry for the delay, Delta Flight 666 is about to board, just as soon as our pilots get through playing strip poker with the flight attendants in the cockpit. Captain Jenkins, in strict accordance with FAA regulation, is waiting until his beer buzz fully wears off. Thank you for your patience.”

But what makes my airport waiting experience truly special are all the televisions. There are hundreds of them. They are mounted above everyone’s heads. Each television is tuned to a twenty-four-hour news network.

These high-energy news shows are basically the same. The host introduces himself and his guest, then they yell at each other for twenty minutes before being joined by The Expert.

The Expert is usually a white-haired man filmed in a separate location, posing in front of an official-looking big-city backdrop—often D.C., L.A., New York City, or Dothan.

We only ever see these experts from the chest up. And it always makes me wonder if these men are actually sitting alone in their living rooms with a video camera, naked from the waist down.

I’d like to think they are.

Finally, the lady on the intercom tells us it’s time to board. We herd toward the gate like cattle. We tow our luggage, elbowing our way forward, and form a line. Only it’s not a line. It’s more like a prison riot.

Swine Flu Man loses a lung when he coughs. Spit goes flying. The spray from his blast showers several of us nearby.

He reassures us by saying, “Don’t worry, folks, I’m not contagious”—COUGH! COUGH!—“unless it’s pneumonia.”

We get on the plane. I walk down the aisle past the first-class passengers. They do not make eye contact with us peasants on our way to the lesser classes. They are too busy drinking bourbon, wearing fuzzy slippers, and commanding flight attendants to stoke their private fireplaces with more hickory logs.

I keep walking past business class, economy class, refugee class, international-war-criminal class, Purgatory, and I finally arrive in livestock class, where I will ride the remainder of the flight with a chicken in my lap.

People are placing luggage into overhead compartments. They are settling into seats. Ahead of me are the video-game boys.







I see the same loud-talking women from earlier. They are inspecting the seat bedside mine. Carefully. They get closer to me. And closer.

“Please,” I am praying. “Please, God. Don’t let them sit next to me.”

They sit beside me. They buckle their seatbelts. One woman leans over my body and shouts to her friend across the aisle.

“You know what? It WAS Chevy Chase.”



  1. Carolyn from Georgia - October 17, 2019 10:01 am

    Thi guy flew 6 flights wearing a MAGA hat & had the middle seat empty on all 6. LOL!! THIS IS A FUNNY VIDEO!!! ENJOY!!!

  2. Sandy Herrin Swindall - October 17, 2019 11:03 am

    I think you nailed it. . . . (and we don’t even get good food and those little shiny wing pins anymore.)

  3. Kat - October 17, 2019 11:24 am

    💕Sweet Lord indeed ! This is why we wear noise cancelling headphones when we fly💕

  4. AL SMOLKO - October 17, 2019 11:26 am


  5. Cheryl Goldin - October 17, 2019 11:36 am

    One of your best yet. Thanks for making me laugh this morning.

  6. Steve - October 17, 2019 11:43 am

    Lordy this one brings back nightmares! I was a business consultant with IBM for well over a decade. 100% airline travel. I flew every Monday and every Friday every week of the year. I have well over one thousand flights, and close to 200 were through LaGuardia! I even slept on the floor once! In a suit and tie! Sean, I know you’re just trying to be funny, but folks – this is a pretty accurate description of my professional life. This Southern Boy hated it. There are no homemade biscuits and gravy in New York. None. I survived, but just barely.

  7. Nancy - October 17, 2019 12:15 pm

    I hate to fly. Really, really, hate to fly.

  8. Donna - October 17, 2019 12:25 pm

    Delta flight 666… HaHaHa

  9. Joe Patterson - October 17, 2019 12:49 pm

    Thanks a people watcher enjoy always entertaining

  10. Edna B. - October 17, 2019 3:03 pm

    I usually avoid that particular airport when travelling. I hope your next flight is much better. You have a great day, hugs, Edna B.

  11. Linda Moon - October 17, 2019 3:30 pm

    ……wish I could help you out…other than recommending long, leisurely, road trips with someone you love, maybe also a pet or two along for the ride. That might be a goal and a luxury for your old-age retirement years! I’ve been fortunate enough to have some of those trips with a loved one and four pets!!

  12. Harriet - October 17, 2019 3:39 pm

    These are my favorite lines.
    “…stoke their private fireplaces with more hickory logs.“


    “ I finally livestock class, where I will ride the remainder of the flight with a CHICKEN IN MY LAP!!!”

    That last one kills it!! Hilarious!

  13. Bette - October 17, 2019 9:08 pm

    They should let those of us who check luggage get off the plane first. It’s only $35 people!

  14. Stu - October 18, 2019 2:15 am

    That’s why I’m driving 9 hours on Monday for a business meeting.

  15. Nancy Wright - October 18, 2019 4:37 am

    That’s a good one Sean! That’s exactly how I feel when we fly out of Atlanta! We’re usually on our way to South Florida via Ft. Lauderdale airport which is like a beautiful dream in comparison! I don’t know if I would consider Dothan a major city, but it was a funny touch!

  16. Gayie - October 18, 2019 11:54 am

    I had to laugh at your Post this morning -so true about Airports

  17. Susan - October 19, 2019 9:13 am

    O.M.G!!!! I can not stop laughing!!!!! One of your BEST EVER true stories! Thank you for this tear inducing laugh!!!

  18. Janet (Saucer) - October 19, 2019 3:37 pm

    Boy you had me howling with this one! I can totally relate!

  19. Audrey McLane - October 25, 2019 1:46 am

    I’m just now catching up on your posts. Tomorrow I will be passing thru the same airport to see my mom Edna B. Thanks for the heads up Lol

  20. Dawn Bratcher - October 26, 2019 5:04 am

    What a nightmare…but usually occurs just like this 😂!

  21. Carolyn Molyneux - November 11, 2019 3:57 pm

    This is why I don’t fly any more. Haven’t been on a plane since 2010. This sounds about right. What happened to stewardess in nice uniforms, a nice meal, classy surroundings? When did airplane travel become steerage?

  22. muthahun - March 21, 2020 5:11 pm

    What a difference 5 months makes, eh? Love this more than my luggage and hope COVID-19 is soon as treatable as H1N1.


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