Friday, October 28, 2005

The Embodiment of Everything Bad About New York

A bit of the showy anklet chain caught my eyes when she cut in front of me in the airport line. Her hair was gray but held that reddish tint from trying to keep a bad dye job. She had a distinct frumpiness about her with sagging arms of a woman of sixty. Rather than hide her rolls the tight light plumb sweater left nothing to the imagination. Her purple short skirt showed off the transparent purple tights she wore. It was obvious she had a bad knee from the athletic bandage wrapping it.

Like a cats scream in the middle of the night that wakes you she shrilled “what’s your name?” The handsome black man in the Northwest gray jacket said “Nigel,” then spelled it to be clear. He had asked her to check her bag before boarding. As he handed her a receipt for her bag she proclaimed to the entire terminal in her thick New York accent “I am not happy about this.

The bag was a soft shell on wheels with a fabric handle. More like a hockey player’s duffel bag on rollers the cheep blue green color was faded from years of use. It was packed so tightly that the seams were stretching and the soft shell was ridged from the items inside. At first blush I knew from my years of travel that the odd edges and overstuffed size would get caught at each attempt to force it in the overhead storage.

When I got to my seat in the back exit isle, I noticed that her chair was directly behind mine. She had made it well know that she was unhappy. I placed my bag in the correct position in the overhead compartment and sat down. Before I was fully in my seat she yelled once again and I sprang to my feet to see what the matter was.

“Don’t put your seat back” her voice scraped like finger nails on a chalkboard. Daggers were shooting out of her eyes to me as she gingerly placed a white paper bag in the area above her.

Two women next to me gave her an odd look and said nearly in unison with the flight attendant next to them “his chair isn’t reclined.”

She began to remove her jacket and replied with a hiss “well I felt it move.”

Kindly and gently I inquired “are you in need of assistance with something?”

“Don’t” she barked “get me started. That man made me check my bag and you don’t want to tangle with me. I am infuriated.”

Everyone in the rear of the plane looked to me for a retort. Instead I smiled and turned to sit down in my chair.

Over the next five minutes, each person that passed got her opinion and comment on every movement they made. I could hear a deep sigh from the man putting his wife’s bag in the overhead under her instructions. At one point he stopped and looked her way with anger. He took all the emotion he had and used it to shove that bag into place. It nearly went through the wall.

The woman decided next to stand near the bathroom directly in front of me rather than suffer in the isle seat waiting for the other two people who will try and sneak past her. The distance from her ass to my face was only a few inches. Her rotten crotch and crevasse sweat were not covered by the cheep perfume or talc she applied.

When the airline attendant came back to the rear to assist a man in finding space for his luggage she pounced in the retelling of how Nigel made her check the bag. She next explained in no uncertain terms that “no one” was to put anything in the over head compartment above her because there are “bake goods that will get smashed if they do.” Finally she complained about how crowded it was back here and that I was practically laying in her lap. This was followed by a sneer in my direction.

Again, the back of the cabin looked to my leadership for a response. I only smiled and continued to listen. My patience in the matter was winning the hearts of the passengers.

She continued her instructions to strangers on how to store their bags. When she saw any bag that seemed in her mind to be larger than hers, she let everyone know. Another woman tried to stow her bag near the baked goods and got an ear full. That woman was forced to check her bag as well. As Nigel came to get the second bag she demanded a receipt and said “just make all the women check their bags – make us suffer while the men do whatever they please.”

After the fourth request to be seated, now that the cabin door was closed, she finally settled in and shoved both her good and bad knee at the base of back.

On taxi for take off she went on about how this flight was always late and the airline was full of liars. Nothing in life ever treated her well apparently.

When she went for the bathroom at one point in the flight I was tempted to lock her in but I was distracted when the woman from across the isle looked at me with a smile of compassion and asked if I was alright.

“Want to switch seats?” I said.

“No” she tilted her head in regret.

When the snack cart came by, a sympathetic attendant gave me a full unopened can of the drink I requested (something no one else back here had.) Magically a free snack box landed on my tray as well, which means a lot from an attendant these days.

Safely on the ground in Detroit, ahead of schedule, I was quick to get out of my seat and in the isle. I wanted to be away from her as fast as possible.

When I got a wink from the woman who sat across the isle from me the flight attendant moved her lips to say “thank you.”

Leave it to one of these fellow frequent flyer guys to be obvious. He turns to me and said “How can you put with that shit?”

To which I loudly replied, “What? That unhappy and lonely bitch with the uncrushed baked goods and over packed carry on? She will die a miserable and lonely death just like her miserable and unloved life.”

I have never heard a group on an airplane laugh so loud and hard. She was a bully. And my few words shut her up for the few minutes we had left before exiting the plane.


  1. I lOVED this post, Paul! You described a scene I had to deal with on almost a daily basis. As a flight attendant I had to bite my lip too many times, but you got that stanky lady back with your great comment. I would have loved to see her face. Fabulous!

  2. Haha! Oh, she sounds like a bitter person. Giving women a bad name. Travelling can bring out the best or worst in people. I think someone should have crushed her baked goods.

  3. you're so mature. love the ending though ;-)

    do you think she heard you?

  4. Oh! Yes! She heard me. She heard me and gave me a dirty look as the people around her laughed.

    Thanks for reading - happy hauntings.