Desperate Traveller

So I’m on this plane, from a frozen Midwestern city back to warm and wimpy LA (where rain is considered `Extreme Weather’). Some total fucker is sitting next to me. I can tell he’s a total fucker by the way he a) automatically assumes the armrest is his; b) didn’t bring anything to read; c) immediately started bitching to the stewardess about how cold the airplane was (“I’m sorry sir, you see, were in a huge piece of metal that has been sitting on the runway for an hour for de-icing, and it’s 10 degrees and snowing outside. Why don’t you put your jacket back on and shut the fuck up while I prepare the cabin so we can take off, or does your tummy hurt too?”)

We sat on the runway and waited for a while. Instead of enjoying a nice novel, the total fucker whined and huffed, and looked at his watch, telling a different stewardess that he “had to be somewhere”, like everyone else on the plane had somehow already taken off and he alone was going to be late. Of course the stewardess radioed the control tower and said, “We have a total fucker who’s really cold and needs to be somewhere. We must take off now.” It always astounds me how much people complain to individuals who have nothing to do with the problem at hand and have no power to solve the situation. I suppose on a plane, the stewardess is the focal point of all problems because you can’t exactly talk to the pilot or the president of the company (although you can try to call him on those cool back-of-the-seat phones).

It reminds me of a time when I stacked fruit at the local Exploit-a-mart for a living. Here I was, 17 and hung-over, stacking crates of apples at 9am on a Saturday morning. Some jogging-suited rich whore with too much blush (and too much spare time) starts telling me how bad the apples look. She then goes on to tell me that she can buy better apples across the street for cheaper. After seeing that this earth shattering news failed to impact me in any way, she pushed me a bit further. “You know, I might just go across the street and buy those apples. Perhaps if these apples were cheaper, I might buy them here.” I guess she figured that with all those incredible stock options and profit sharing programs most grocery chains offer to 17-year olds making $3.25 an hour, that I would care whether she bought apples from my pile, or the pile of the poor kid across the street. I told her that I didn’t care where she bought her damn apples, and was soon joined by a manager who leveraged an apology out of me, and sent the desperate housewife happily skipping back to hubby with a story of how she saved 40 cents at the grocery store, and made a scruffy kid half her age apologize to her in the process. Pathetic.

Anyways back to the plane. The beverage cart comes down the aisle. I ordered 2 white wines (% alcohol/dollar -your best bet on domestic flights). Total fucker assumes I need a bit of harassment. “Don’t you think it’s a bit early to have a drink,” he states, the words dripping from his humorless smile with sticky condescension. I look at my watch and find it to be almost 11 am, a perfect time to enjoy an alcoholic beverage(s), especially since I’m strapped into a plane next to a total fucker. “It helps the drugs kick in faster,” I say, not even looking at him, while pulling a bottle of Soma out of my pocket. I heard a little gasp. It was at this point I regained the armrest , allowing me more leverage to pop 3 mind erasers into my mouth and wash them down with both mini-bottles of wine. The pills seemed to make me invisible as well as numb.

He sat there looking uncomfortable, sipping 7-up (we wouldn’t want any flavor clouding our judgment), watching the stupid movie he didn’t even rent the headphones for. He just stared at the screen (come to think of it, a lot of people just stared at the movie they didn’t rent the headphones for), and I just stared at him, wishing that the onboard movie was his life story, so I could see how a person turns into such a total fucker. Did too much praise as a child convince him he was always right? Did he have to fight and argue his way to gain respect? Did he have an absolutely empty and pathetic existence that was supplemented by barking commands at people whose job description included keeping losers like him happy? Or was he just some normal guy having a bad day, maybe coming from a funeral, or going to see his wife in the hospital, aggravated by any little thing that amplified the shittyness of the situation? I didn’t ask. I didn’t really want to know. I just kinda passed out and woke up as the plane was landing. He grabbed his bag and started pushing up the aisle before the plane even stopped moving. Humans have a lot of ugly emotions, but desperation is by far the ugliest.