The Woman on the Plane

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the past few years, and especially during my time abroad, it’s that complaining accomplishes nothing. No amount of whining will change crappy weather, lower horrendously high prices, or get you more leg room on an Air Asia flight. I fully came to this realization after I was caught in a sudden and intense rainstorm that destroyed my DSLR camera, and was forced with the decision of whining about it and letting it ruin my trip, or choosing to enjoy the rest of my time in the country despite what had happened. (That actually ties in quite well with an entirely separate blog post that’s been rattling around my head for a couple days, so more on that later.)

I had spent the previous four days in Cairns, a city in Queensland, Australia, about the size of Syracuse that is best known for its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef. In those four days, I had gone scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, held a koala, pet a kangaroo, jumped out of a plane at 15,000ft, and was able to check four items off my bucket list in as many days.
I will now take this opportunity to share pictures of my trip:

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Feeding a wallaby

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Scuba diving. (I’m in the center)

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Trying not to vomit or cry.

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The most terrifying moment of my life and seriously regretting every decision that led up to this moment.

No longer regretting all my decisions leading up to this moment.

No longer regretting all my decisions leading up to this moment.

Anyway, on to the main point; a story I fondly refer to as “The Woman on the Plane.”
Despite what the title implies, and despite the fact that I was stuck in the middle seat (because who’s gonna pay the extra $10 to choose their seat? Not this girl) I had an uneventful flight back to Sydney. Weather in Cairns had caused a bit of a delay in departure, but we made the trip in the allotted three hours and landed maybe twenty minutes after the initial 8:00pm arrival time.  To my surprise, it was raining pretty heavily when we arrived in Sydney, which had apparently caused a delay of sorts.

This is also where the story gets interesting.
After our flight landed and we had been waiting on the tarmac for only a few minutes, one of the flight attendants got on the PA system and announced that due to weather related delays, three flights in front of us were still waiting to unload and that we would have to wait roughly 20 minutes for a bay. This, of course, was followed by the typical “please keep your tray tables fastened and keep your seats in the upright position.” I’m still not sure if they expect anyone to follow that rule, I’m guessing they’re just legally obligated to say it. Anyway, before I could even grab my book and make myself comfortable, the woman next to me, who had been nothing short of amiable the entire trip had a sudden change of demeanor, sighed VERY audibly, pushed the button on the side of her chair, and forced it into the reclined position with an exclamation of “Well that’s bull****!” and continued to complain loudly to her husband, who was sitting across the aisle from her. Now is a good time to note that we were close enough to the front of the plane that the flight attendants could clearly overhear everything this woman was saying. After maybe fifteen minutes of waiting (reminder that our wait was estimated to be 20 minutes) the woman shouted to the front: “HEY! How about an update!? I’m sick of sitting here like a bunch of IDIOTS!” A young man, roughly my age, turned around a very politely informed her that it was likely our situation had not changed, and that he was sure we would be updated as soon as the captain received any information on the situation. That only irritated her further and she turned to her husband with: “Why are Australians so f***ing passive?! And why do you never take my side on things? You’re just sitting there doing nothing!” Her poor husband responded with a rather unenthusiastic “Yeah! Tell us what’s going on….”

Long story short, we ended up sitting there for another hour and a half, as other flights were connecting or for whatever reason, had a more dire need to unload their passengers.  Due to this woman’s incessant prattling, I couldn’t concentrate on my book, and even if I had to be able to, it was much more entertaining to listen to her lose her mind.  I can’t remember the precise order of events, but I’m going to try to highlight the most memorable parts. The sentences: “we’re just sitting here like a bunch of IDIOTS”, “I just want to know what’s going on”,  and “this is terrible customer service, I PAID for this flight” were uttered probably half a dozen times each. Towards the end of our wait, it had devolved into complaining that she wasn’t going to make it to the grocery store and engaging in ridiculous hypotheticals, such as: “What if we had someone picking us up? They would just be waiting there. They would have been waiting for us for two hours. TWO HOURS. And what would we tell them?! WE don’t even know what’s going on!” After the flight attendants began to ignore her complains, she repeatedly jabbed the button that calls for the flight attendants, and when that was ignored, there was some “What if something was seriously wrong? I could be hurt! I could be dying. Are they really gonna ignore that?! What if something had happened to me!?!” At this point, I think it’s safe to say that everyone on the flight had wished something had happened to her.
Eventually, around 10:30PM, our flight docked, and to no surprise of mine, she was the first one standing, wrestling her luggage out of the overhead bin.
It was at this point that I did something incredibly out of character. Knowing I would never see this woman again, as the line began to move, I turned to her and said “Oh look, all your complaining got us a bay” and gave her the coldest stare I could muster (which wasn’t hard, apparently my tired face looks angry to begin with.) For a brief moment, I thought she was going to slap me, but she turned to her husband and loudly complained about how “kids these days are so f***ing disrespectful!” Her blood pressure must have been through the roof by the end of that wait; I can only imagine how fun she is when otherwise inconvenienced.

I feel like I should wrap this up nicely with a summary or a lesson about negativity and complaining, but I’ll just leave it at this: don’t be the woman on the plane.