A Plane Tank You


Anytime you travel alone, you run the risk of getting stuck on a plane beside someone bizarre. It doesn’t matter how intent you are at feigning sleep, if the motormouth beside you decides that she feels like telling her entire life story, you can either offend her by asking for silence and then deal with her pouting, or you can pretend interest in her multi-hour saga while secretly praying for engine failure to end your misery. While I was not the victim of one of these airline entertainers, I sat directly behind one and witnessed firsthand the agony she inflicted on another passenger during our nine-hour flight to Paris.

Worth the inane chatter

Worth the inane chatter

“You like to hear about my children?  I tell you. I have five.”  She was one of those elderly Asian women who spoke loudly and with misplaced authority. Her English was functional, but lacked fluency. Her neighbor was also a woman later in years, and I hoped this would increase her tolerance for seventy years of a stranger’s stories. I dozed after an hour or so, and when I awoke, she was still talking.

“So I tell him, you no get job, you no live here!” She jabbed the air for emphasis, and I had to wonder how loud the chronicles must have been in the seat ahead of me. Maybe her auditory hostage had slipped in her earbuds to obtain some relief. The dinner cart rattled our way and parked a couple of rows in front of our seats. I lowered the plastic tray attached to the seat in front of me, and the flight attendant asked the Eternal Storyteller her choice of entrée.

“What you have?”

Anyone listening for the past ten minutes would have heard the repetition of the same three options, but our server politely repeated them for the 170th time. “Pasta, chicken, or salad?”

“What?”  Make that 171.  The attendant uttered the refrain again, and the woman waved her hand. “I want simple meal.”

It was an ambiguous answer, so the flight attendant did her best to decode it. “The pasta is simple, so here you go.”  She passed the woman a tray with a smoldering, plastic rectangle in the center, which immediately fell under verbal fire.

“What this?!  This no chicken!  You take back and give chicken!”  The served tray was volleyed and returned, and the Delta attendant rolled her eyes and said, “Chicken it is,” and swapped one heat-wrapped food product for another. The elderly lady, delighted with this quality of service, responded, “Tank you, tank you!” and we had about eight minutes of silence until the beverage cart appeared.

“Red wine!  I need red wine!” Gosh, what a coincidence. So did everyone else within earshot. “You bring me red wine,” she told the next attendant, who had the audacity to offer coffee or tea. “You can go and get me red wine?  Tank you, tank you!”

Once the glass had been imbibed, a beautiful thing happened. She slept. And as I felt gratitude stir within me, I had to tank God from the bottom of my heart.

And she slept . . . the moment of triumph

And she slept . . . the moment of triumph

© 2013 – Traci Carver


25 responses »

  1. Thank you so much for liking my blog, or I may have never got to read yours! I LOVE your writing, you make some pretty awful experiences so funny, you have an amazing sense of humour!! Take care, I hope your back clears up (would it be really bad if I said I hope it takes a while longer, just so we can have some more crazy stories?)

  2. On my flight back from Morocco I heard a fascinating tale about a guy who’s kayaking camera crew had just survived being trapped in a coastal cave when the tide suddenly came in. I think everyone on the plane was leaning in! (But, no, most eavesdropping is not nearly so riveting.)

  3. Last time I flew a long distance, I was seated next to a new and upcoming TV star on one of Tyler Perry’s new sitcoms. Very interesting, but not too much chatter. She was more interested in getting me to watch her new TV show. Safe travels and enjoy gay Paree.

  4. After my last flight, I resolved to drive everywhere. I haven’t yet worked out how I’m going to drive to Europe, but this’ll serve for further inspiration.

  5. I’ve had plenty of Eternal Storytellers and crying children on domestic flights, but international ones, not so much. Most of them were somnolent. Me? I was sleeping too.

    The flight attendant was probably indulging the “young lady” to avoid a meltdown over the Atlantic, I’m just sayin’.

  6. Trust me when I say, the red wine on the plane isn’t worth the “tank you”. Wait until you can imbibe some good stuff. LOL

  7. Weeee! Luckily, I haven’t really experienced such character. And you really meet diversed character during flights. And that’s the awesomeness of traveling alone. One flught encounter, Ill never forget is when I get a chance to practice my Italian with a very nice lady who I chatted with for a long time. She was sitting beside each other. 🙂 Have fun and travel safe.

    • Sometimes a flight is a positive experience, and sometimes it’s a real nightmare. It’s best to travel in pairs and book those window seats early. 🙂

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