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?


Mamie said...

Carmi, Carmi, Carmi. This is fabulous! You may have a new career as a comedic writer. And the photo? Worth a thousand words.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

I remember being on a flight and one passenger was upset by the passenger who kept hitting his chair.. There is a reason for the 'call button'... You are too nice, if u were trying to avoid a confrontation next time go up to the steward and voice your complaint.. U paid good money for that seat.. Also always book your flight where u get an aisle seat, that's the only way I will fly.

CorvusCorax12 said...


fredamans said...

I don't mean to laugh at your expense, but that was frigging hilarious!
That guy looks like a doofus too.
Sorry about the bad trip. LOVE the payback. Karma, I mean Carmi is a you-know-what... ROFL

lissa said...

I laughed out loud throughout this hilarious piece of comedy writing! And yes, the picture got the laughter started.

I have to say - I'd have done the same thing - ratted the guy out and asked for a delay in response. You asked, "gratuitous? Mean-spirited?" I answer: No. You didn't publish the personal info you gleaned from his overt mobile-usage. THAT would have been all of the above! Restraint in situations like these is admirable!

Thank you for the grins - and btw, great pic of you! (doofus indeed, nuh-uh!!)

carmilevy said...

Mamie: Thanks very much! I wasn't thinking comically as we were going through this, but in retrospect it started to look funnier and funnier. Of course, I feel badly for everyone around him, but from where I sit, the guy's a walking joke.

KBF: I always take the passive-aggressive tack - must be my journalist roots - and you're right, I should be more assertive. Next time...

Freda: No worries at all. It really was/still is a screamingly funny experience. If we can't laugh at ourselves...

Lissa: I was seriously tempted to post the hoovered data. THAT would have taught him a hard lesson (he was using his Berry for some rather sensitive work...every security risk factor in the book) but it isn't really me. So I took the soft-funny approach instead.

Alexia said...

Fantastic! So funny - and the expression on your face cracks me up!

(Don't get me going on the armrest thing - grrrrr)

Lifelong Learner said...

The look on your face is priceless.

db grin said...

oh man - I think I just bit off another chunk of tooth while clenching through this post.

that dude is now the target of my active dislike. ACTIVE.

darlin said...

Quite the story Carmi, what a goof that man is, I hope his wife was on her blackberry finding a good divorce lawyer! I'm not so sure I would have had as much patience for this idiot, then again I'm not sure. I love the shot, now that's hilarious! Here's one for you... go a step further, post this on facebook and tag him with his real name, if he's on facebook he's sure to see it! lol

rashbre said...

Did he dribble as well? I'm afraid I know these scenes too.

I must admit I usually go 'window' so that once I'm in situ I can face away if its all getting too much.

jennifer.harrell.scott said...

Dear god, this is so awful I almost feel bad for laughing! But what else can one do in such a situation..? ;)

Janie B said...

Someday he will regret his inattention to his child. Cat Stevens sang about it in "The Cat's in the Cradle."

Mark said...

Haha! This was an excellent post!

As far as I can recall in reading your blog (6 or 7 years I think), your remarkable patience always seems unending - and sometimes makes me just a little envious!

This was very fun and entertaining to read. Good to know you're human and have a limit just like the rest of us. :)

Mark said...

Glad I saw this at home so I can actually comment on it. Wonderfully written account of your observations of this guy. The photo says a lot without the text, but is greatly enriched with it.

Anonymous said...

Who needs sharp elbows when you have a sense of humor so keen that it razors right through the nonsense, keeps me on the edge of my seat and makes me laugh out loud?

This is fan.tast.ic.

I hope it goes viral and Blackberry Boy gets his fifteen minutes of shame :)

Dawn said...

Simply AWESOME. You've said all that needs to be said- and a picture to prove it!
Love this post. Sad for his family. But you did great with this!!!

RSF said...

We all have those moments o.O where you just wished you had another seat!!

Glennis said...

Not wanting to be a pedant, but it was Harry Chapin, Janie B.

But she's right - this guy will regret someday that he was so self-centered and didn't engage with his kid. What a selfish jerk.

You're very funny, Carmi, so funny and observant.