Don Fried — Playwright & Author

“No Way Out”

Posted on: December 9, 2008

no-way-out1It was early December, 2004. I’d had a stressful week of contract negotiations in Peoria with Caterpillar, but now I was headed home. The flight from Chicago to Denver was three-quarters full when I boarded, but I managed to find a window seat with an open middle between me and the man on the aisle.  I settled in for what I hoped would be a peaceful beginning to the weekend.

At the last instant before they closed the doors, she hurried onto the plane, lugging a wheeled carry-on suitcase, a computer bag, and an oversized purse. Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine. Wait a minute.  That’s a different curmudgeon story! She surveyed the cabin and took aim at – me! What? Do I have a target on my forehead?

She made her way down the aisle to my row, pausing only to remove several bags and coats from a nearby overhead bin and put her things in. Then, leaving the stewardess to deal with half a dozen irate passengers whose bags were now on the floor, she settled into the middle-seat next to me. I ducked down behind my newspaper.

“Hi, I’m Anne,” she said.

“Uh, I’m Don,” I responded reluctantly.

“It’ll be nice having somebody to talk to for the next couple of hours.”

I pretended to be engrossed in the listing of hog future prices on page 16.

“Look at that headline, she said, reading the side of my paper facing her. “Supreme Disallows Nativity Scene on City Hall Grounds. Those morons!”

I mumbled something about the Constitution and separation of church and state.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” she replied. “This is a Christian country. It was founded by Christians and nobody should object to us putting up a nativity scene on the grounds of the Town Hall.”

I abandoned any hope of relaxing, and settled in for a fight. “Actually, I object to it. Put your religious displays in your church, and I’ll do the same with my religious displays in mine.”

She glared at me with animosity, I supposed trying to determine how I had managed to hide my horns under my hair. Then, in an attempt to be civil, she tried what she was sure would be common ground for any sane person. “Well, at least the country is on safe grounds for another four years now that we’ve re-elected Bush.”

“I voted for Kerry,” was my response.

“I’m sorry for you,” she replied.

And on it went. It was like the Sartre play, “No Way Out.” Each thing she said made me want to strangle her. And like an idiot, instead of keeping my mouth shut, I argued with her.

Finally, the pilot came on the PA to announced that we were beginning our descent into Denver. By this time, Ann and I had lapsed into a tense silence. I saw her winding up for one final attempt at conversation.

“There’s one thing that we can certainly agree on. It’ll be great when they make it legal to use your cell phone during the flight, won’t it?”

At that point, I completely lost it. “Are you absolutely out of your mind? It’s bad enough we have to listen to people screaming into their cell phones everywhere else in the world. Look around you. We’re prisoners here. There’s absolutely no escape!  But it’d be worth it if it meant I didn’t have to talk to you!”

We sat in silence for the rest of the trip. And no, I didn’t ask for Ann’s phone number so we could keep in touch.

2 Responses to "“No Way Out”"

Ah… Don… showing your charm and interpersonal skills again! You see why people believe you to be a people person? It is just written all over you! I mean honestly??? A great big old teddy bear!

You know it’s not good to keep your feelings inside! Your supposed to let them out! LMAO!!!

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