Saturday, December 31, 2005

Magellan didn't have to deal with shit like this

Will someone please explain to me what the deal with this whole jet lag thing is? All you have to do is tell someone that you've flown in from the US and the first thing they'll ask you (often with real concern in their voice) is whether you're over your jet lag. As though jet lag were some sort of debilitating disease - like chicken pox, or the bubonic plague. I'm almost tempted to say, No, I'm not actually. In fact, it's now advanced to its final stage and my doctor says I only have another 48 hours to live. 57 and a half if you're in Philadelphia. You'd better not sit too close. It might be catching.

Part of my trouble with this whole jet lag thing is that I have absolutely no idea what people are talking about. I mean, look, I've done my share of long-haul international flights. And sure, they've left me feeling tired and aching and a little disoriented - but not any more so than, say, a long day at office (yes, I DO know what that feels like, thanks very much). I certainly haven't experienced anything that it would take me three or four days to recover from - I mean it's just a long flight, it's not childbirth. If anything, I usually end up getting more sleep on these long international flights than I do at home - simply because there isn't really that much else to do. And okay, so maybe I'll sleep a little longer than usual the first night I get in, but that's about it.

When I tell people this they simply refuse to believe me. They look at me suspicously, as though I hadn't flown from the US at all, but had simply been hiding out in my parent's cupboard for the last 18 months (talk about coming out of the closet. heh.). They'll quiz me keenly about when my flight left and from which airport and when it got here, as though hoping to trip me up on some detail or the other. When I finally manage to convince them that I have actually flown in from the US they'll get even more suspicious - old rumours about how I have martian blood in me will resurface. You can see them wondering if they should report me to Military Intelligence.

At some point all this gets to me. I start wondering if there's something wrong with me. I feel deprived. I consider writing to Continental Airlines pointing out that they never provided with the jet lag that was supposed to be covered in my ticket. I wonder if my inability to have jet lag is somehow linked to my inability to stay in meaningful relationships. Maybe the secret to a good marriage is the ability to feel really, really sleepy after a long flight.

I go look up Jet Lag in the Merriam-Webster dictionary [1], It's defined as a condition that is characterized by various psychological and physiological effects (as fatigue and irritability), occurs following long flight through several time zones, and probably results from disruption of circadian rhythms in the human body. Hmmm. Maybe the reason I don't have jet lag is because my usual levels of psychological disquiet and general fatigue and irritability are so high that a little more doesn't really make a difference - the way you never find out when the sea gets flooded. Or maybe it's just that I have really, really good circadian rhythms. Yes, that's probably it. You hear that, baby? I got rhythm. And circadian [2] rhythm at that. Who can ask for anything more?


[1] My trusty OED is back in Philly.

[2] Isn't circadian just a gorgeous, gorgeous word - Circe and Diana - what a combination!


DoZ said...

In my last job, I worked in shifts. You don't have to travel long distance to get jet lagged. I got it just by sitting at my desk for several nights in a row, and following that up with a series of very early mornings at the same spot. That I didn't get paid extra for the disruption to my uh, circadian rhythms, had probably a lot more to do with my irritability than any actual disruption...

Karthik said...

Umm.. you underestimate the power of jet lag. Try snapping at someone, and then blame it on jet lag the next day. Always works.