Wednesday, January 5, 2011
So I'm sitting on a plane from Japan to New York. The guy next to me is some overweight American guy and by the window is his Asian girlfriend. Thankfully, I have the aisle seat, but the cute baby I admired earlier at the gate is now screaming bloody murder. And only two measly rows ahead of me. I accept the fact that I will not be sleeping on this flight. Time to watch some movies.
It soon becomes clear that my headphone jack is irretrievably broken, meaning that I have 12 hours and 45 minutes to NOT watch movies or TV. Well, that's great. Apparently Delta doesn't bother to maintain their equipment. An announcement overhead informs me that if I am interested in signing up with the Delta Airlines sky miles program, I should contact a flight attendant. Well contact this Delta.
I recall my experience on an American Airlines flight where I could choose from a menu of movies from my own personal TV on the back of the seat in front of me. And oh, how well it worked, too. On this flight, I have to lean out into the aisle and squint my eyes to see the screen all the way in the front of the cabin. At least now, it doesn't matter. I wouldn't be able to hear it anyway.
I politely ask the guy next to me if his headphone jack is working properly.
"Cause, uh, mine doesn't seem to be working." That baby releases a deathly scream that makes the hairs on my neck stand up. Talk about foreshadowing.
"Let me see. Yeah it's working."
"Oh, okay. So I guess it's just mine then."
"Yep, guess so."
"Hmm... this sucks. I wonder what I should do."
"You should tell them. Maybe they can fix it."
"Yeah, okay. I guess I'll do that."
The happiest flight attendant I've ever met conveniently comes sashaying down the aisle with her drink cart.
"Hey baby, what kin I git for you?"
"I'll have ginger ale, please."
"Okay, honey... one ginger ale, coming right up. There you go sweetie."
"OH, you're SO welcome honey!" she says in a deep, appropriately honeyed voice. She seems overly pleased that I've bothered to thank her. Even though I overheard all three in the row ahead say exactly the same thing. I wonder if she'll be as pleasant at the end of the flight as she is now.
"By the way, my headphone jack doesn't seem to be working. Is there anything we can do about it?"
"Oh, I'm sorry, honey. There's really not much we can do."
"Are there any other seats available?"
"Well, not unless you wanna sit in the middle?"
"Ah, I see. Okay, I'll stay here then. Thanks anyway."
"Sorry, sweetie pie," she purrs over blood curdling baby shrieks. She glides away.
Oh. This is not good.
I turn to the guy next to me. "Sorry, I was wondering... do you think you're gonna watch any movies?"
"Well, yeah I mean I don't want to say I'm not, cause if there's something good, I definitely wanna watch. Sorry."
"You know what I mean?"
"Yeah, sure, I understand."
I pull out a book and start reading as the baby continues to wail in despair. Yes, baby, I know.
This is seriously going to be the longest flight ever.
I'm working on my laptop hours later, studying some Japanese, when I feel something slither into my lap. I peer down in the darkness. The guy next to me is grabbing my hand, yet he seems to be asleep.
I pick up the vile, ghastly thing and put it back where it belongs. His eyes never opening for a second. Okay, no one has to know.
Tap tap tap, I'm typing away. Tap tap ta--What the?
That beast's got his elbow all up in my space and he's still asleep. I don't even understand how he can sleep through all that crying and shrieking anyway. I give a good shove and make sure that revolting limb withdraws into it's hole.
"So," I think, "the jerk told me I couldn't use his headphone jack and now he and his lady friend are out cold. Two movies have played already and yet not one of us in aisle 27 has been able to enjoy them. Unbelievable."
I start typing again. Though, I continue to deal with the advances, ever increasing in frequency. It attacks, I thwack, it retreats. It worms it's way back, I smack, it recedes. Elbow-wrestling is on it's way to becoming a regular in-flight pastime. As I'm fighting to the death, for the right to some peace and a bit of space, super-happy flight attendant is cooing down the aisle.
"Would you like some water, honey?"
"Would you like some water, baby?"
"Would you like some water, sugar baby?"
"Um.... no?" Can't she see I'm busy? I search her eyes for any possible recognition of what I'm going through.
"Ok, sugar." And she's gone.
Man, it is like way past my bedtime.
I try typing with my left hand, using my right to keep that repugnant creature at bay. Tap tap tap, bam! Take that you repulsive creep. I stop typing. I sit. I watch, ready to block it's next move. I see it coming. Those horrid hairy arms uncrossing, the left one raising up in the air and reaching it's peak, and then it's coming, sailing down around my head. I freeze in terror, unsure, unable to react. And then...
Oh no you did not!
He has actually put his arm around me. It is resting on my shoulder, the hand like a spider on my back. He has a vulgar grin on his face. I do not like that face. Does he think I'm his girlfriend, or is something super scary going on here? And why won't he just wake up already? I mean, is he used to getting battered in his sleep? I don't even want to know what kind of relationship those two have. She seems all sweet and innocent, but who knows...
Well, it's time to send the beast running. I pick it gingerly off my backside and throw it back in his chest. My sleep-stunned opponent falls back in befuddled confusion. He turns the other way, with his over-sized rear facing me. Finally, now I can get some work done.
I'm in the zone. Tap tap tap. I am so productive. Tap tap. I'm gonna be quite the Japanese expert when I get off this airplane. Oh yeah, this is great, maybe it's--
That thing has come back for more. And this time it's enveloped me in both furry limbs, it's head nestled in the crook of my neck. Oh god, help me. Now it's attempting to lace it's digits in mine. This can not go on.
"Hello, excuse me.." I'm tapping on his arm.
"Hello? Um... please wake up." The tapping gets desperate.
"PLEASE. Come on. WAKE UP."
He snorts and a long, groaning, "Huh?" escapes his mouth. His eyes open for the first time in what seems a century.
"Excuse me, you're..."
"OH GOD!" The man recoils from my side-- as if I'm the one being a creeper.
"Um, yeah... wrong direction."
"Sorry. I, uh, I thought you were her," he stutters, jabbing his thumb in that general direction.
"Yeah, I see that. Whatever. Don't worry about it."
The girlfriend wakes up. "What's going on?" she demands.
"Well, I thought she was you."
"Nevermind, let's go back to sleep." He burrows his face deep into her inadequate bosom.
So they're really not gonna watch a single movie? Okay, fine. Time for justice buddy. I fish out my headphones from the seat pocket and insert them into his headphone jack. Looks like a good one is just starting. Too bad they'll miss it...