My air china flight to New York was basically a preview of what hell would be like.
Because the flight was delayed one and a half hours in Beijing but because during said delay, we were all seated in the plane and the airconditioning was not turned on. I hyperventilated.
Because my flight, moments before landing, was rerouted to Boston thanks to a fantastic thunderstorm. And then we were made to wait in Boston in a hot plane because they turned the airconditioning off again. I hyperventilated. I was starving and tired and drifted in and out of consciousness.
Because despite knowing and acknowledging that I had ordered the vegetarian meal, the staff served me a seafood meal, which would have been fine except it wasn’t so much seafood as it was unidentified pieces of meat that smelt like seawater. This is not a testament to Air China in particular as it is to airline food in general – I am convinced that all the airline food served on all airlines is made in giant underground sewer somewhere in the Balkans.
And because seated next to me, as always, were some buffoons who were oblivious to how their annoying behaviour was irritating the hell out of me. Because even though I have sat next to some avant-grade idiots in my life (huge woman with bare, sweaty, fat arms, farty businessman, Chinese man with huge crush on me and no English skills whatsoever), nothing prepared me for twiddle-dee and twiddle-dum.
First of all, shut the fuck up. The lights have been dimmed and some passengers need to sleep. This is not a mid-air session of the Toastmasters’ Club. Secondly, let’s get one thing straight, the middle seat of the airplane is no place for motherfucking tai-chi. I am not kidding, this old couple was tai-chi-ing like it was the old-people Olympics. Elbows of old lady, meet ribs of the Jups. Not a pleasure to meet you. Also, I don’t care if you are cramping, you do not fucking CLAP without warning on a plane full of sleeping passengers. You scared the living daylights out of me every time I almost fell asleep. Thirdly (for those keeping track), you both also happily jumped over me several times to go to the bathroom, kicking me and my bag in the process when it would have been 700 times more considerate to just tap me and let me get up. It would have also been 3000 times more considerate if you had both gotten up to go to the loo together but that would have meant not kicking me twice.And finally, how is it that you are unaware that you are infinitely louder when you have headphones on? You ruined my sleep the entire journey with your talking nay screaming, your elbows and your clapping. You two are the gold, silver and bronze medalist of the Irritation Olympics. And what is amazing is that you don’t even know. You smiled at me across immigration queues like you knew me for centuries; you had no idea that you won the Irritation Olympics. You are cold-blooded psychopaths who belong in the elite torture squad of a rogue nation.
Sidebar: Before you make some kameha-meha hateful statement about mainlanders, know that the couple sitting by me was half mainlander / half hongkonger. The lovely lady whose elbows befriended my ribs was hongkonger.
And then there were the three rascals behind me. Because this story had to get better.
And because heaven forbid there was a stretch of five minutes where the old couple stopped talking/clapping/synchronized swimming and Jups gets some badly needed shut-eye. Rascals 1, 2 and 3 were in the business of kicking my seat for no rhyme or reason, shaking my seat during the process of one of them not in the aisle seat getting up to run through the aisle…and repeating the above till the end of time.
So it is no surprise that I was mildly thrilled that I had the “first row” aisle seat on the return flight. Short lived mild thrill. Someone was in my seat. Someone with an infant. The father politely asked me to switch seats because “they had an infant”. I refused. I didn’t think it was fair that they asked me…I am one of the three non-Chinese people on this plane and I am traveling alone; surely there are other people they could ask? It is a big fucking plane, okay? So I stood there awkwardly as the man tried to rearrange. It turns out there was only one infant bassinet-friendly seat in the plane. Surely that can’t be right, but I don’t want to argue. The family already had one seat next to me and they wanted the other two – hence the attempted ousting of the Jups. Again, why is this my problem?
Ten minutes in, I gave in to the guilt. That infant was tiny, a girl and pretty and even if it/she didn’t melt my heart, it did scare me with its potential to bawl through the entire flight. I said I’d switch seats but as it turned out, some twat in 58J wouldn’t give me his seat. So I am not the bad guy. The couple and the infant are now sitting next to me and my resignation to the fact that I won’t be sleeping on this flight.
Besides, the kid’s grandmom doesn’t need to sit next to the couple, now is as good a time as any to fly solo (ha!pun!).
As I write this, my seat quivers. Is it my imagination? No sir, it is yet another under-ten miniature asshole sitting behind me. I have to choose sleep-deprivation or aggravated manslaughter. Stay turned.
P.S. And it is not entirely the kids’ fault that their brains are made of poo. It is the parents’ fault for letting them misbehave on planes, kick other passengers’ seats, run around and disturb the peace. Over the course of the flight, I glared several times at the child and his father. I even asked him to stop kicking my chair. Parents, your children are not God’s gift to humanity by default, they need to prove that they are. The majority of children, not unlike the majority of adults, are mediocre, stupid and unspecial. If you want yours to be different, teach them to be kind and respectful to others, and to read. As Elvish Pixie’s mom says, kids need to be raised, not dragged up.