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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Altercation

There are so many things about traveling that tend to drive sane people crazy. For me, I can deal with delays just fine, because I always have plenty of entertainment. Bumpy flights don't bother me, because it's a great time to pray! Annoying flight attendants bug, but I know they're only part of my life for a short period of time.

My least favorite part about flying is the other passengers - it doesn't take much to get under my skin. I'm not a huge gabber (thank goodness for iPods), because I can't really hear anyone all that well over the roar of the airplane anyway. But I've decided, that in general, my fellow travelers are completely inconsiderate of those around them. They are the businessman who knocks over the little girl and doesn't even pause while he's hustling to get on the jetway to sit on his butt for hours on the plane; the still-drunk (and quite smelly) dude next to you whose first words are to warn you that he's likely going to ralph; the cat-lady who just can't bear the thought of sedating her 2 very loud felines for the duration of the flight; the middle-aged couple who take cell phone calls and leisurely stroll down the aisle of the plane while 30 rows of people behind them wait to unboard the plane; the 22-yr old child who needs his beauty sleep and forces an altercation with you on the plane. Yep, I was lucky enough to encounter all 5 situations on my round-trip to Phoenix last week (plus many more not worthy of blog space)! The most entertaining of which was The Altercation...

Whenever I board a plane, I take notice of my fellow passenger seated directly behind me. This person determines whether or not I attempt to recline my seat. When I recline, I'm only talking by a few degrees, not all the way back. But really, it's not like reclining your airplane seat makes the thing any more comfortable.

Well, the 22-yr old child (I'm being generous here), we'll call him Dumas, didn't bother to notice 5'9" me, sitting directly behind him. Dumas was a young man, traveling with his non-English speaking Chinese girlfriend, to the Valley of the Sun - a short 3.5 hour flight from Chicago. Dumas was also about 5'4" tall and maybe 100 pounds dripping wet. As soon as the plane began to level off, Dumas decided that he wanted to LAY IN MY LAP. I decided to be a little forgiving and refrained from constantly kneeing his seatback, but he still received quite a bit because there was NOWHERE FOR ME TO GO. In fact, reading my magazine proved a little difficult because I find it hard to focus when the words are only 3 inches from the tip of my nose... and that's about how close the top back of his seat was to my face.

Within 3-5 minutes of having an uninvited lap buddy, I notice that the air from my vent is hitting the top of his cowlick and he doesn't seem to be liking it very much. That made me smile. See, I personally don't enjoy the prospect of other people's germs entering my respiratory system, therefore I keep my vent turned up high, but aimed toward my lap so I don't dry out my eyeballs. (The air on a plane is completely recirculated and replaced every 2-3 minutes, and I believe the best way to get fresh air is through your vent.) Watching Dumas feel around the top of his head where he was being hit by my vent was sheer pleasure for me. If he had been upright, or less reclined, he would have been completely out of drafty range.

Meanwhile, I had received many sympathetic looks and quiet comments from my other fellow passengers, and even a moment of recognition from the Chinese girlfriend, that Dumas and his reclining seat were totally out of line. I leaned back into my fully upright seat and watched his Alfalfa cowlick blow in the wind. I was determined to make passive aggressive fun!

For awhile, I zoned out on my iPod and tried to ignore the fact that he was so close, I could smell his hair. About mid-flight, I noticed Dumas trying to get my attention, so I politely removed my earbuds.
Dumas: "Ma'am, I'm trying to sleep, and your air is bothering me."
Me: "Well, hmmm... maybe if you weren't so far reclined you wouldn't feel my air?" (posed as a true question to help him realize his rudeness)
Dumas: "But Ma'am, I'm trying to sleep."
Me: "And I'm trying to fit my knees behind your seat. See, you're so far reclined, you're laying in my lap, and that's the only reason you're able to feel my air."
Dumas: "But I'm trying to sleep!"
Me: (His need for beauty rest at noon affects me how??) "Like I said, you're laying in my lap. If you'd like to adjust your seat, I'd be willing to turn down my air."
Dumas: "I'm... I'm just trying to sleep."
At this point I shrugged my shoulders, and he could tell I wasn't going to cave in. Apparently that was THE LAST STRAW, so Dumas proceeded to press his flight attendant call button.

I. Am. Not. Kidding.

I'm not big on scenes, but this was one situation where I refused to back down... I knew I was right, and I had even offered to compromise, but Dumas really needed his beauty sleep. The really annoying flight attendant comes our way to see what's going on (here comes the part where I fell in love with her)... at this point, everyone around us is paying attention.
Dumas: "Miss, this lady won't adjust her air... it's blowing on me, and I'M TRYING TO SLEEP."
(Yeah, she was a "Miss" and I was a "Ma'am"... she had at least 20 years on me! Stupid child.)
Me: (I said not a word, but motioned at the sheer lack of space between my body and the back of his seat.)
Flight Attendant: "Well, sir... you are laying in her lap." (and walked away!)
Fellow Passengers: (They were clapping! No joke!)
Begrudgingly, Dumas lifted his seat slightly, but by the end of the flight he was fully reclined again. Nevertheless, I held up my end of the bargain and adjusted my air (but only by a minuscule amount). I ended up watching his cowlick dance again. I should have told him I wasn't paying for any lap dances.

Somehow, when it was time to unboard the plane, I was hit in the head by the overhead bin door. I glanced up to see who the offender was... Dumas. I told him he'd better just hurry and get off the plane. He looked kinda scared. That made me smile, too.

I'm sure Dumas got off the plane and whined to his friends and family on his MySpace page about the inconsiderate beeyotch behind him, because that's what 22-yr old children do. I think he's lucky I didn't act like this guy.

So, the moral of this story is the next time I fly, I'm going to have to get me some of these!


tiburon said...

Best story I have heard in a long time. I heart you. For real.

Christy said...

Oh, I am SO with you on this one.. I felt all angry inside just reading about it. If I am ever in that sort of situation and I'm with my kids, I switch seats and let my kids kick away... if the person complains I tell them I had to switch because there wasn't enough room for my legs... if they moved forward I will switch back.

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