Always plant yourself in such a way as to make it very difficult for anyone else to sit next to you.
I chose to be a solo traveller when I was 30, well except that I was a single mother with no money and a mortgage running at 17% so cleaning other people's dunnies was a sideline in which I excelled just so I could keep food on the table and the odd pair of Italian shoes on my feet. Don't tell me that Kmart shoes would have done, cos I know that, but I was just struggling to have some of what I had when I was married. By all means judge away.
SO as it was my choice to go it alone, I obviously devised ways and means of doing it without having to tell too many people to fuck off, and without ever smacking anyone with a shovel, not that I didn't fancy doing that from time to time. Restraint was the order of the day, cos there sure wasn't gonna be any white knight riding in to save me if my mouth runneth over.
When my Lovely girl was visiting her dad, I would pop off to the pictures or the theatre or a cafe and I was more than happy to sit on my own. I have always had a thing about sitting on the aisle, laughingly explaining to people that if there was a fire, I could be the first one out, but the truth is that I am stupidly claustrophobic and so can only bare to be next to one person at a time, and it is more than a little helpful if I actually LIKE the person I am sitting by.
I know that the HOUSE seats at the theatre are in the middle of the row a few rows back, cos that's where the best view is, but I'll take the skewed view from the side every day of the week and twice on Sunday, or not go at all.
So in my 30s I hatched a devious and effective plan whereby I would book or grab the aisle seat and shove my handie on the seat next to me so I was on my own, Plenty of air not being contaminated by a stranger. I don't like polluted stranger air, or their possible bad breath or their BO or worse still their stinky farts exploding the remnants of last night's curry. And I don't enjoy that tussle of who owns the arm rest that seems to be a given when sitting next to some stranger in a public place.
So the handie was useful for more than just toting tampons and a lippy.
But last weekend in Melbourne I had forgotten my Solo Traveller rules. BUGGER!
Stevie has been my wing man for so long that I had forgotten about the usefulness of the handie.
On the plane down, it was OK cos I had stumped up the extra cash for a good seat and so I sat on the aisle and mostly ignored the bloke next to me.
The cabbie was an arsehole who drove far out of the way, even though I was pointing and say, 'We need to be going over there!' but when he finally dumped me at the hotel, I put on a sunny smile to greet the check in folk cos after all it wasn't their fault that the fucking plane was late and the cabbie was a turd, and I'd missed the Dior Exhibition.
On Saturday I tootled off to the Leukaemia Conference.
I knew that I needed to get in early to make sure that I had an aisle seat, even if that meant that I had people climbing over me to get to the central seats. This I know gives people the shits and some so much so that they rather purposely stomp all over your feet, but trodden on toes is a price I am happy to pay.
In the end I shuffled around a bit and settled on the aisle seat right in the front except that it was right on the side, so if the sprinkler system started up I would be up and out before anyone. There was no-one next to me cos obviously it was the shit spot, what with the oblique view of all the AV stuff. Yippee.
Or so I thought.
Just before the Key Note Address, a somewhat strange, rather stinky, very snuffly sneezing coughing bloke sat RIGHT FUCKING NEXT TO ME. I had forgotten solo traveller 101 and my handie was perched on my lap not the seat next to me. Bugger.
Not only was he RIGHT FUCKING NEXT TO ME, he was swilling around his disease and germs and then suddenly and loudly he wanted a run down of, 'Your life with cancer so far?'
'I don't want to discuss it.' would have stopped most people in their tracks but not this fella.
But the conversation attempts were not nearly as disconcerting as his appalling habit of sticking his fingers - yes plural! up his nose, perhaps in search of diamonds and then wiping the slurry all up and down his trousers. I am not fucking joking!. Even in the dark I could clearly see the wet lines on his pants. Perhaps he was striving for some pin stripe look, but then the stripes turned to puddles and then lakes!
Now I am just your normal middle classed gal with decent manners, and a potty mouth. I tried to inconspicuously scout out another seat, but in the dark and as it needed to be on the aisle, this was not easy. I knew if I just hopped up and moved, firstly EVERYONE would see me and secondly, this guy would just think I am a rude snobby bitch. Why this was important to me I don't know.
Finally after his fruitless panning session which resulted in sodden snot stained trousers, I could bear it no longer and I stood up and shuffled my way to the entrance aisle and stood and listened. Ahh plenty of room, even if there was no chair.
This was a pretty extreme revision lesson of how to travel on your own.
But I am happy to say that I am a reasonably quick study and after lunch, I found the right room and went in early and sat on an aisle seat and my handie and umbrella sat defiantly on the seat next to me. People may have wanted that seat but it was just too fucking bad.
My handie enjoyed her sightseeing adventure on the tram sitting the the seat right next to me, ignoring the sometimes pleading looks from fellow travellers.
Ahh all was well in my world, until we were delayed again on the plane home and the family of 4 behind me used up far more than their share of the air, but that's a whole other story.