Sometimes It Isn’t What You Write, It’s What You Write On

English: Southwest Airlines 737-300 N310SW. I ...

The scene (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I find something to write about, I make a note to myself about it. Topics that I am eager to handle are a big problem. I want to sit down and go right to work. Life doesn’t always allow for that.

The idea for a post on Airport Pizza came to me last week. In the few minutes I had between forming the idea and boarding a plane I stored the first few lines of the post in my phone.


Southwest Airlines doesn’t assign seats, just a place in line to board the plane. Seats are first come first served. I got aboard and scored a spacious exit row seat.

Settled in, with my iPod on, I relaxed and realized that 90 minutes on a plane with nothing to do is an opportunity to write. Paper was easy to find; I took up my pen and went to work. Words flowed. My make shift desk (the in-flight magazine) was just right…after all, tray tables must be in their full upright and locked position during boarding and take off.

Other passengers filed in and chose their seats. The two prime exit row seats to my left stayed empty. There was writing to do, so I didn’t dwell on it. I was still writing when a man took the aisle seat just before we left the gate. No one took the seat between us.

I paused to watch the world beneath the plane get smaller. Glancing around the cabin, I noticed it was a full flight. Nearly every seat was taken. Mysteriously, I still had the luxury of the leg room of an exit row and the elbow room of a vacant seat beside me.

It’s Not Them, It’s Me

English: Seal of the Transportation Security A...

Hi! Love you! Mean it! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Me, the guy who’d been sitting alone in an exit row while everyone else had filed on to the plane.

Me, happily writing, not paying a bit of attention to anything around me.

Me, pouring words on to the only blank paper I could get my hands on.

In retrospect, I probably would not have chosen to sit next to the guy scrawling his thoughts on an airsickness bag either. My apologies go out to any of you who might have been on that flight and made the choice to stand at the back of the plane to avoid me. You had no way of knowing how harmless I am and every reason to believe I was potentially dangerous.

In the event that my actions caught the attention of the good people of the Transportation Security Administration, I’d like to start by saying hello and that I appreciate the job that you do. I hope that you’ll find it in your hearts to allow me to continue flying. I promise that, on future flights, I will either bring my own paper or put my pen in my checked luggage.

Behold, The Barf Bag Of Literacy


28 Comments on “Sometimes It Isn’t What You Write, It’s What You Write On”

  1. List of X says:

    I’m really glad that you haven’t had to face the dilemma of whether to use the bag for its primary purpose. That could have been awkward.

  2. Daile says:

    The idea of a first come first served for flights baffles me. But now I know how to get people to avoid me on planes and public transport!

    • omawarisan says:

      I think it works because that airline does not charge for checking a bag. There didn’t seem to be nearly the hassle on boarding because most people didn’t have large carry on bags.

      Glad to help you get some space.

  3. I have a hard time writing at home, where there are far too many other things I can do. I do most of my writing by furiously scribbling into a mead college ruled notebook, while sitting in dark corners of bars with a beer in front of me and my ipod headphones on. Needless to say I don’t “pick up many women” that way, but I sure get a lot of writing done!

  4. Finally, good use for the puke bag! I get most of my ideas for writing when I’m working out. Very annoying to have to stop exercising, run over to a notebook and scribble stuff down. I’ve also written stuff on napkins while in the car waiting for the kids to get out of school.

    • omawarisan says:

      I ideas are so hard to come by sometimes that you have to do that. Everything has to stop to get it saved.
      I’ve made notes at work like “tye dye locomotive” or “inventing a collideoscope”. I worry if I have an accident at work they’ll think I’ve lost my mind.

    • Were you looking around furtively as you were writing? Your handwriting wasn’t nearly cramped enough, there’s room between the words and lines, so it couldn’t have been mistaken for a ranting manifesto. Some people are really touchy.

  5. dufmanno says:

    When I see some guy scrawling furiously on a makeshift rippy bit of paper on a plane I automatically assume they are 1. Writing a manifesto before getting up to no good. 2. Putting their “I’m leaving you” speech down to refer to during a breakup after de-planing. 3. Making an important grocery list.

  6. Katie says:

    I’m going to be flying for work in July, and I was already planning on how I was going to use the hour or so of free time in the air. Now I’m inspired.

  7. While I applaude (clap, clap) your use of the materials at hand, might I suggest a nice mole skin notebook? Of-course the trade of is the space a barf bag offers. . .life is full of trade offs like having to be nice to TSA in order to reach your final destination.

  8. Love.It.
    I was just trying to tidy my desk a bit so I could prioritize some stuff. Not an easy task as I tend to write on whatever is at hand. I carry a notebook in my purse. Some of the scattered pages are from there but more often then not I grab something else. I forget about the notebook that is supposed to keep me from this mess or I am not near my purse at the time. Notes and messages in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some written in pen, some in pencil and some in eyeliner.
    None are on a barf bag. 🙂

  9. Debbie says:

    Your choice of what to write on wouldn’t have bothered me — unless I felt a bit queasy in the first place and figured I just might need that bag!

  10. We Found Him Captain! says:

    I had trouble reading your barf bag. Please write bigger and bring a brown paper shopping bag on your next flight.

  11. Way to adapt by writing on the barf bag! We do what we must to write!

  12. I don’t see the problem. In fact, I think you just DOUBLED the potential of these wonderful bags that will hold dry heaving only.

  13. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    My mom used to bring these home after a trip somewhere. She’d send me to work with my lunch packed in them. They do make quite useful lunch bags.

  14. YES! Writing is a much better use for those things!

  15. lee says:

    If I ever have make another appointment for a TSA physical, I will endure the experience knowing a Barf Bag of Literacy will be there for me, ready to receive the contents of my cranial stomach, because all electronic devices I would normally use for the purpose will be ordered turned off and stowed for takeoff and landing. It’s either that or flip through an issue of Sky Mall, hoping to find an overpriced journal that fills itself with blog ideas.

  16. Betty says:

    I’m booked in a dreaded center seat for one leg of a trip later this month. I think I’m going to try this to see if I can clear the surrounding seats. Perhaps it’ll help if I also have Viola in my carry on bag, peeking out a bit from under the seat.

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