I knew I was in trouble when I sat in a row with a mommy and daddy and their 11-week-old bundle of joy, Samuel. Sammy looked a bit like a Cabbage Patch kid, but he wore the bug eyes and bald head really well. I oohed and aahed and that's saying something because I'm one of those terrible people who believes there are ugly babies in the world. But I'm getting off track here. The important thing for you to know is that Samuel started to cry before we even left the runway. Karma at work. If I had let Rob sit in that seat instead of foisting our children off on him, I would have had relative peace and quiet. Or so I thought.
I'm not sure when the disturbance began. Early on I was probably distracted by Sammy's Cabbage
Patchness, or that heart-breaking newborn cry of his. At some point fairly early in the flight, however, I became painfully aware of what I was dealing with. I should say what "we" were dealing with given that she affected at least a dozen people - certainly those seated directly in front of, behind, and next to her, but those across the aisle and a couple back as well. I was one row behind on the other side of the aisle and could not escape. The "she" in this story didn't have gas, wasn't snoring and didn't fall asleep and slobber on her neighbor's shoulder. Those fairly typical airline experiences would have been preferable. No, in this case, "she" turned around in her seat to talk to someone in the row behind her. For the entire flight. No exaggeration. Certainly that would have annoyed the person sitting next to her or next to the person she was speaking to, but here's where it gets ugly. This MAAPE -- Most Annoying Airline Passenger Ever -- spoke loudly enough for my dad, my mother-in-law, and the deaf guy on Project Runway to hear her. Did I mention this continued for more than three hours?
One man, seated in front of me (the aisle across from the MAAPE) finally could hold his tongue no longer. He stated, loudly enough for all of us to hear, "Thank God this isn't an overseas flight! Three hours straight?! Seriously??" In the ultimate display of camaraderie, a gentleman sitting in front of the MAAPE passed back one of those airline-sized bottles of whiskey. Followed by one filled with vodka. Followed by a can of Coke. "So this is how you're surviving!," replied the grateful fellow passenger who took the whiskey in one shot. The laughter united us, and the MAAPE turned around and smiled, wondering about the joke she must have missed. She then continued talking. As loudly as before. We all had one more good laugh at her expense when I sneezed (never a subtle thing on my part) and my quick-witted son Ian announced for everyone to hear, "Geez, Mom, must you be so LOUD!" Love that kid.
When at last the plane landed and passengers disembarked, the palpable tension was broken and along with sighs of relief were comments and questions like, "Why didn't someone say something?" (We can all blame it on Rob.) One woman suggested the flight attendant should have spoken for all of us. The attendant responded with "I couldn't believe it. I kept thinking she had to stop eventually, but she just kept going."
I learned several valuable lesson on this flight:
- Everyone should own noise-canceling headphones.
- Alcohol is a good idea, regardless of whether you need it to calm your nerves.
- Never listen to your husband when it comes to dealing with a problem.