Travel can bring out the best (and worst) in people. It can be stressful trying to get from point A to point B which is unfortunate because it can also be an opportunity to learn and grow. With the airline industry being what it is these days, unless you’re in an opulent, first-class suite on Emirates Airlines (dare to dream!) expectations for air travel are typically quite low and the attitude is certainly one of: to it and through it!
Air travel is fraught with perils of all things negative; at every turn chances are high that in one fell swoop you feel what’s like to be on an island in the South Pacific fighting in a multi-round elimination challenge to “win immunity” – or in this case, to board the plane, find room to stow all of your belongings, claim your armrest and get to your destination.
From packing the trunk with overstuffed suitcases (including the extra one that had to be brought along due to the weight allowances which were only discovered the night before), to the unpredictable traffic en route, to the ridiculously long lineup for bag tags (despite the fact that care and effort were taken to print boarding passes the night before), the dreaded security line (which, has much improved since the days of trying to juggle holding a finally sleeping infant, collapsing a stroller, and removing shoes all in one go while fending off glares of other passengers) and finally to the gate, onto the plane and into the “ever-so-coveted” **full blown sarcasm here** middle seat – the mode of travel for the foreseeable future as the windows are coveted by the 3 or 7 year olds and who can survive a tantrum in closed quarters?
Suffice it to say, gone are the days when Mr. Niceguy and I could spontaneously take off with merely a carry-on between us, drinks at hand.
I practically grew up on airplanes. Thanks to my dad’s career which took him to Saudi Arabia for nearly a decade, we spent much of our vacation times and certainly all of our summers, jet-setting (totally privileged!) making my sister and me expert travelers. Air travel back then was also much more glamorous and much simpler – at least that’s how I’m going to choose to remember it…
Bitten by the travel bug and sprinkled with a dash of wanderlust (together with my commitment phobic tendencies) to me, there is nothing more exciting than going somewhere new and immersing myself – ok, not just anywhere but places where I can shop, lounge on a beach, shop, check out historic ruins, shop, pick up a new language, shop…you get the idea? I couldn’t wait to immerse myself in the West Coast. I braved March Break madness and took a flight to visit my sister and her family in Vancouver – Mr. Niceguy, 7 year old and 3 year old all in tow.
Having forgotten what it was like to travel during March Break (this not working thing is still new!), I was not expecting the chaos at the airport that comes with school holidays.
Boarding passes in hand, we made our way to the bag drop off and just when I thought things were going well, while getting some assistance from an airline attendant, a woman bud in front of the 7 year old and 3 year old who, diverted by all the excitement had left a large gap in front of us. This woman just sauntered into line not minding that an agent of official capacity was speaking to us, not caring that she cut in front of the 50 or so other passengers who were patiently waiting, and certainly not at all concerned that she took advantage of my children!
I will not profess to be cool headed – those who know me or who have read my entries in the past know my longing to be a flighty, cool, hipster chick that lets things roll but alas, I have failed miserably. Being Armenian, I have a predisposition to the “Armenian temper” and 0 to 60 and back down to 0 is something I can do in a split second. However, this time, I stayed at 60…ok, 100. See, this woman took advantage of my children who were surprised to be overtaken; she also took advantage of me and of all the other rule abiders. She hijacked my travel experience! I felt my eyes alight, my body temperature rise and I was poised for a fight and when she next paused, like a Maserati Gran Turismo, I maneuvered my cart and we overtook her but not without adding in my shy anger (the kind when you’re about to have a confrontation but can’t look the other party in the face because you really wish you weren’t having this confrontation but you will forever regret that you let yourself be a doormat), “you budded” ever so quietly lest the extremely proper and non-confrontational Mr. Niceguy hear.
She had the nerve to respond loudly, “well, we’re all going in the same direction anyway.” WHA?I My instinct took over, my inner struggle subsided and I just scoffed, “Ya, that’s right” and boy was I proud of myself…Mr. Niceguy was proud of me too, having witnessed the whole thing. I felt so grand and dignified…and surely, this was magnified (and validated) by the fact that I was about to be bumped into the fast security line legitimately…
Quick, boots off, lap top out, cell phone, pockets emptied, belt whipped off, push children through the checkpoint, get through checkpoint, boots on, repack bag, snatch children’s hands from conveyor, grab phone, beg children to stop trying to climb up on conveyor, fill pockets, yell at children in front of masses to take seats at far end where I can keep an eye on them, whip belt back on as pants now starting to fall, and no one, I repeat, no one, needs to see my favourite, comfy, “wedgie-proof-travel-undies”, glare at children while I walk over counting to 10 in my head taking long, measured breaths and reminding myself that it’s all about the journey…
As I said, for me the excitement of boarding a plane trumps just about anything. Forget about the budding lady or the fact that my children were totally out of control, I had the golden ticket: passes to the Air Canada lounge…this trip was about to get a whole lot more decadent…
After all my years of corporate travel (and only two or three visits to the lounge thanks in large part to budget cuts and middle management) I, nay, WE had arrived. I was worried about how disruptive the 7 year old and 3 year old were going to be…but perhaps I should’ve been more worried about me. I couldn’t believe my eyes: eggs, bacon, waffles, fruit, fancy yoghurt, exotic juices, mouthwatering pastries, and specialty coffees to my heart’s content. All of a sudden 4 hours of sleep and waking at the crack of dawn didn’t matter. Croissant dangling in mouth, latte in hand, I got to the magazine table: Cars, business, fashion – I didn’t have to choose, I grabbed them all! My troubles melted away….my cares melted away…my fear of having to sit next to the 3 year old for 5.5 hours melted away…like I said, we’d arrived…I could almost imagine being in that Emirates Air suite…
But how long do those kinds of sentiments really last when you’re travelling by air?
We got on the plane and to our happy surprise, were well accommodated. And despite the fact that I once again found myself squished in the old, reliable middle seat, my neighbor was extremely kind and helpful. I tend to conserve energy on flights with the 3 year old (you have to be ready for the 8 minute circuit: change dvd, go to washroom, change movie on screen, get something to eat, open window cover, close window cover, turn volume up, adjust headset, adjust air, change dvd again, go to washroom again to finish what was left unfinished…you get the drill) but my neighbor was so great that I partook in some light conversation, shared my Goldfish crackers, and even threw in a few jokes for good measure!
What happened next, however, came completely out of the blue. After a (typical) seat mix-up that took the airline some time to sort out, a woman took the seat in front of the 3 year old. She had barely occupied her exit row seat with ample leg room for more than a minute when she stood up, turned around, looked at my 3 year old and said, “Now you make sure not to kick my chair. I don’t like that.”
If I asked what you thought of this woman, what would you say? How would you take that? Would you wonder why she spoke directly to the 3 year old? Would you ask about the tone in which she made that statement? Certainly, you may wonder about your own state of mind at the time which would affect your perception when she uttered those words. Like if you were feeling particularly upbeat after a visit to the VIP lounge, would you take it well? Either way, you have by now probably imagined what she looked like and perceived what she meant…
I was surprised. Up to that point, the 3 year old had been an angel (the 8 minute circuits had not yet begun). The plane hadn’t even taken off yet – no cross check, no safety movie, nothing. Yet, this woman felt the need to make this statement. Regardless of whether she was a sweet, lovely woman with a kind face – what happened next was even more surprising. The entire 5 rows behind her on both sides of the plane had witnessed the event. Had witnessed this tall, cratchity and grey woman with small, evil and squinty eyes, and a tone that was not quite sweet but stern, make this statement. She became vilified. All of those passengers condemned her. And sadly for her, the occurrence was exaggerated,
“Did you hear what that @#$%^ said? To that poor little boy? His feet probably don’t even touch the chair!”
“That evil woman wagged her finger and said that she would be very disappointed in that poor, little baby boy if he makes a single sound!”
“Wow, what’s wrong with that woman? Some people are just crazy!”
I actually started to feel bad for this woman. Unlike the woman who budded in line, in this situation I had 5 rows of people come to my defense – actually, to the 3 year old’s defense. That felt really good. What felt even better was the reaffirmation that sometimes keeping cool and maintaining my composure is of greater benefit than losing my @#$%!
In this woman’s case, however, I think had she looked differently or approached things with a little smile, she probably would not have been labelled as such. Also, had she tried to not intimidate but rather, to request, no defense would have been required and her personal brand would likely not have been tarnished. Never one to pass up an opportunity, after the initial shock subsided I decided to remain magnanimous and instead highlight discipline, “That lady is going to get mad at you if you don’t behave.” But I think the 3 year old had learned that “preventative maintenance” would not work having picked up on the fact that the tall, cratchity lady had no credence and there were 5 rows of passengers who would back him up no matter what. So started the 8 minute circuits…
I won’t go into the details of how I survived the rest of that plane ride…but survive is what I did. So it should come as no surprise that my initial thoughts are also reinforced: travel, the opportunity to learn and grow, to see human nature at its best – and worst! Thankfully, I had a belly full of yummy pastries to get me through it and maybe, just maybe, someday I will make it to that Emirates suite…
Photo was taken by Ma1974 on flickr
10 thoughts on “The (unexpected) joys of travel???”
But I’m sure it was more than worth it to come and see your dear, sweet sister!! 🙂
So sayeth my sister! 😉 Of course it was!!
Are you really Spin Cycle’s sister? Sorry, where are my manners. Hi, I’m Sean, pleased to meet you.
Your sister is pretty cool. And a bit of a hottie too. Good work on living in Vancouver by the way. I love and miss that city immensely. Anyway, I’m sure you have better things to do than be spoken to by a random, creepy internet man who stalks your sister…
Thanks Sean! BTW, it’s my sister that’s the hottie!
Awesome. Yet another hot girl I can’t get with!
O. M. G.
At various stages in this post I was thinking, ‘I need to make a comment about this bit specfically’ but then I read on… But NOTHING. And I mean NOTHING. Compares to the fact that your first like on this post is from none other than Valeriu.
This is SO good I don’t even know if I can talk about any of the other stuff I wanted to… But I will. As I DO read your posts.
1. “Despite the fact that care and effort were taken to print boarding passes the night before.” I heeeeeard dat.
2. Well done on sticking up for yourself with the queue bitch. I don’t have any balls at all and would have cried about that for the remainder of the flight.
3. My bro (the loaded one) once sneaked me into the Virgin lounge and whilst I felt like a rap star for the three hour wait before the flight, I was swiftly reminded of my average Joe status once on the plane. Again. I heeeeard dat.
4. So glad the plane bitch got her comeuppance.
5. Let’s hear it again for Valeriu.
6. Don’t tell anyone else about my rule breaking just now.
I knew it! You’re secret’s safe with me… And I definitely am going to check out Valeriu’s blogs now…it’s pretty random the way people just find other people…I’m going to make it my mission to follow your tips…right after my latte, and some catch up of Bold & the Beautiful, and after a nap…..but seriously, totally gonna get to it!
Thanks for the above! Made my day!
I can’t believe that lady! What is wrong with people.?????
When you get to the Emirates suite, please don’t forget me! lol