Middle seat, middle of the night.

On one side of me is a guy who could easily pass for the latest parolee from my home state’s reformatory. Squeezed into the aisle seat in my row is a man who must be a sumo wrestling champion. Sandwiched between these two strangers, I am doing my best at faking sleep, reading a bit, sipping a Diet Coke, and fighting claustrophobia.

My fellow passengers seem tired and cranky, and so do the flight attendants. Even when the crew members can summon the energy to muster a small semblance of a smile, their eyes are simultaneously sending subversive signals.

“Shark eyes, man, shark eyes,” the guy in the window seat says to me.

“Uh, what? I’m sorry,” I reply, thinking I’ve missed something. ...

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