Perhaps, like me, you always turn to your left when you board a plane.
Not because first class is that way, but merely to take a quick look at the pilots to see what they're doing and whether there's the faintest whiff of spliff or Johnny Walker wafting from their cabin.
So I am fascinated beyond excitement at what two Northwest Airlines pilots might have been doing on their laptops Wednesday night.
You see, these experienced men, Richard Cole and Timothy Cheney, were piloting a red eye from San Diego to Minneapolis when they seem to have forgotten to take in the final Minneapolis part of the journey.
They were somewhere over Wisconsin when, according to The New York Times, a flight attendant happened to call them, with a vaguely relevant question about the time of arrival. The time of arrival at Minneapolis, a city they had already overflown some time before.
You might imagine that the pilots had fallen asleep. Your suggestion is supported by the fact that they seem not to have responded to repeated entreaties from air traffic controllers for a chat.
Tests have reportedly shown that the pilots were not drunk. In interviews with concerned members of law enforcement, Cole and Cheney reportedly said they were on their laptops discussing a new scheduling system.
You see, they are Northwest pilots who now are under the Delta banner. And Delta does things a little differently.
I suspect you might scoff at this explanation.
You see, they had allegedly pulled out their personal laptops, which is a violation of Northwest policy, Delta policy and, one imagines, the policy of every airline bar. (Except, perhaps, Southwest, whose pilots wear leather jackets, strut through airports as if they have just returned from the Battle of Britain, and always seem to be having a jolly good time.)
We should therefore wonder what Cole and Cheney might have been doing. I have canvassed some of the brightest minds to come up with these suggestions.
One very lucid mind suggested quite simply that they were watching a ballgame. Another offered that they had uploaded a "How to lie effectively" video. And a third feels sure they were watching the classic Hilary Duff video "Wake Up," which I have embedded here for your delectation.
I fear some of you might be tempted towards the heinous thought that they were watching material of a sleazily sultry nature.
I cannot be so cynical. It is simply not in my nature. It seems so obvious to me what happened here that I cannot believe no one with a right mind and a left brain has reached the same conclusion.
Cheney, the pilot, was quite clearly a PC user (I just cannot imagine a Cheney using a Mac), while his Cole-pilot was a firm fanboy of the Mac. Like little boys comparing their trading card collections, they whipped out their laptops so that they could convert each other.
We all know just what a long conversation this will have been. The obstinacy of both sides is often so extreme that the parties might forget they are in the air, in a plane, or even flying a plane.
As Cheney proselytized about Windows 7, Cole counter-punched with some Snow Leopard. And before they knew it, Wisconsin waved at them from below while their passengers wondered what time they might descend from on high.
I feel sure that the next "Get a Mac" ad will feature Messrs. Hodgman and Long as Northwest pilots who want to settle this debate once and for all. By the end of the spot, they will be grappling in the cockpit and the plane will be ready to land in Minsk.
One can dream, can't one? Just as pilots do when they inadvertently fall asleep.