To know me you have to fly with me. Sit down. I'm the aisle, you're the window-trapped. You crack your paperback, last spring's big legal thriller, convinced that what you want is solitude, though I know otherwise: you need to talk. The jaunty male flight attendant brings our drinks: a two percent milk with one ice cube for me, a Wild Turkey for you. It's wet outside, the runways streaked and dark. Late afternoon. The first class cabin fills with other business men who switch on their laptops and call up lengthy spreadsheets or use the last few moments before takeoff to punch in cellphone calls to wives and clients. Their voices are bright but shallow, no diaphragms, their sentences kept short to save on tolls, and when they hang up they face the windows, sigh, and reset their watches from Central time to Mountain. For some of them thsi means a longer day, for others it means eating supper before they're hungry. One fellow lowers his plastic window shade and wedges his head between two skimpy pillows, while another unlatches his briefcase, looks inside, then shuts his eyes and rubs his jaw, exhausted.
- From Up in the Air by Walter Kirn