Saturday, June 11, 2011
The moron who slept on my shoulder
I wish I had sharper elbows
On a WestJet 737-700, January 2011
Forget the doofus on the right for a moment. I'd like to focus on the idiot who slept on me for a good chunk of the flight. Let's rewind a little, shall we?
The scene: We're in line at the Miami International Airport gate, getting ready to board our flight home. Behind us, a child yells repeatedly, "Poppy, poppy, poppy!" Said child's volume becomes louder with time as whoever this "Poppy" guy is is clearly not showing his face. Out of the corner of my eye, I spot a man hiding behind a concrete pillar, fiddling with his BlackBerry, headset deeply embedded in his ears as he either focuses intently on a last-minute conference call or tries to memorize the lyrics to the new Death Cab For Cutie single. I can't tell which, but after the little munchkin breaks away from his harried mother and another blessedly silent child, and makes a beeline for Unshaven BlackBerry Guy, it's clear they're family.
Not that this guy could care one way or another, because he shoos his son away without so much as a look, whispering under his breath that he should stay with his mother. Then he goes back to his conference call. Or Death Cab For Cutie. I still can't tell. The little one tries the same thing at least two more times, with the same whispered, non-eye-contact response every time.
By now our kids are watching this little family circus, trying not to let their amusement at this annals-of-parenting moment be too obvious. We've tried to teach them to be discrete while in public, and today the lessons seem to be paying off (we'll leave their cringe-inducing sibling-terror inside the house for another day.) They exchange quick glances with me, my wife and each other. Not a word is spoken, but from the looks on their faces, it's obvious they think this guy's an idiot, too. But we'll be boarding soon, so it won't be long before they're all distant memories, an interesting ending to a great vacation.
Fat chance. The line begins to move. Death Cab For Cutie must be one hell of a band, because Unshaven BlackBerry Guy sprints into line just before we get to the check-in counter. The little screamer jumps all over him as escapee-dad tries to give his stuff to the agent. He continues to ignore his family all the way down the jetway (maybe Death Cab For Cutie has given way to Good Charlotte by now. Still can't tell, but I digress.) The child's voice echoes, unanswered.
We board, and as luck would have it, the apparently single mother sits down in the row behind us. The father, still trying his utmost to ignore the presence of his family, sits beside me on the aisle. The kid continues to scream "Poppy!" Even better, now he's sticking his hands through the opening between our seats - right about near my right ear - to get this moron's attention.
You know where this is going, don't you? We take off, kid is kicking the chair and screaming, mother has given up trying to rein him in, and I wouldn't be surprised if she's looking up divorce lawyers on her own mobile device. As we climb into the sky, dad is still on his BlackBerry as he simultaneously manages to insinuate himself into my seat, as well (by now you should have concluded that Mr. The World Revolves Around Me grabbed the armrest as soon as he sat down and refused to give it up. Gotta position those BlackBerry thumbs, after all.)
I'm usually pretty patient, but eventually I get tired of the idiocy. So I tell him to get up - politely, of course, but I'm beyond asking - and head to the back of the plane where I ask the flight attendants if sending e-mails contravenes their in-flight protocol. Indeed, it does. They ask if he's using flight mode. I confirm he's as connected as he's ever been, and they promise to deal with him promptly. I ask for a bit of a delay to ensure he doesn't think I've ratted him out. They smile knowingly and thank me repeatedly. I guess they wanted to have some fun with him, too.
As I settle back in, he is, of course, still tapping away. The slowly ebbing frequency and strength of the seatback kicking confirms that his son is on the wrong side of the childhood energy management curve. Since he's making no effort to hide his screen from me - it's practically in my lap by the time I decide to memorize his every keypress - I figure I'm entitled to a little fun. By the time the flight attendant makes her way to our row and scolds him for using his Berry in-flight, I've managed to capture his name, e-mail address, home phone number, mobile phone number and company and job title. Can someone say "safe mobile security"? I knew you could.
When his twiddle-less thumbs finally run out of things to do, he falls asleep on my shoulder, thus giving me the perfect excuse to snap his picture to remember the moment.
Gratuitous? Sure. A little mean-spirited? Of course. But if I can't have a little fun poking fun at those who clearly couldn't care less about the needs of others, then what's the point? Maybe he'll see this someday and realize he's got a wife and kids who actually deserve better.
Probably not. But one can always hope.
Your turn: How do you deal with idiots?