It took longer than a year.
But finally, here I was on a plane flying cross-country to actually attend a meeting in body as well as spirit.
The trip proved that in-person meetings still get far more done than the Zoomified type.
It also proved that wearing a mask for six hours is about as enjoyable as a transparent glass sauna in Times Square.
Still, there I was on the way back, sipping my water (you doubt me?) and engrossed in a book.
A Very Peculiar Bathroom Break.
I'd just got to the part where the female spy confided in the other female spy about what she'd really done and to whom.
It was likely the excitement that made me look up to catch my breath. While doing so, something caught my eye.
A woman was standing outside the bathroom door.
I know enough about current flying regulations that you're not supposed to congregate outside the bathrooms. Yet here was this woman, just standing there. And standing there.
A minute became three. Three drifted on toward four. The woman still didn't move.
I looked up above her and the bathroom light was green. There was no one in there. Why wouldn't this woman go in? Was she merely stretching her legs? Was she not desperate enough? Was she building up the courage?
Finally, a flight attendant approached her and the woman moved slightly to one side. Now I could see that she was holding an iPhone and the charging cable ran into the bathroom.
You, of course, have already rushed to several difficult conclusions. I, however, overheard something of the ensuing conversation.
Woman: "The power outlet at my seat isn't working."
Flight Attendant: "Have you tried the seat next to you?"
"Woman: "It doesn't work either."
Flight Attendant: "I'm sorry about that, but you can't stand here and charge your phone in the bathroom."
Woman: "But I need to charge it."
Flight Attendant (more firmly): "I'm sorry, that's not possible."
You may have already decided that the woman had to be of millennial years. I'll not disabuse you of that decision.
The whole scene, however, was quite bizarre.
The woman's desperation appeared to have nothing to do with any urgent matter. It appeared to have everything to do with her complete inability to function as a human being without a charged iPhone.
What would she have missed in the remaining three or so hours of the flight? Was there really no way she could occupy her time and mind to get her through this most modern of ordeals?
Or was she so greatly in the grip of gaming, Instagram, or, who knows, TikTok that her world would have melted before her?
There were further protestations. There was further demurring from the flight attendant. The latter won. The woman went back to her seat, stomping just a touch.
I Guess That's Why They Call It The JetBlues.
I found my emotions more torn by this scene than by my spy novel.
Should I have admired the woman's initiative for thinking she could charge her phone in the bathroom outlet meant for shavers?
Should I have been appalled that the airline couldn't have working power outlets or provide some reasonable alternative for a customer in distress?
Or should I, perhaps, dip my head in reverent sadness that we've become so attached to our gadgets that without them we atrophy?
The woman could, surely, have watched a movie or even live TV. Perhaps she might have availed herself of a book or magazine. She might have meditated or merely tried to, dare one suggest, relax.
But no, this suffering was too horrific to contemplate and too great to bear. So she complained. A lot.
Perhaps one should be grateful she didn't cause even more of a fuss. On a recent American Airlines flight from Tokyo to Dallas-FortWorth, a passenger whose phone wouldn't charge allegedly became so unruly that the plane had to divert to Seattle.
I do, however, have good news for the passenger on my flight. The airline in question, JetBlue, is beginning to introduce Qi power wireless charging for its most fancy passengers.
Instead of trying to block the bathroom door, all this woman may have to do in the future -- should sudden pain like this strike again -- is ask a kindly First Class passenger for use of their wireless charger. (All First Class passengers are kindly, right?)
Oh, but what might she do if, for some hideously unaccountable reason, the wireless charger doesn't work?