October 19th, 2011
We had just boarded this very full flight, and my head was already filling up with mucus. I was drinking lots of water to stay hydrated.
As soon as we reached altitude and the seat belt sign was off, I got up to use the bathroom. There was already a line.
I blew my nose while waiting because I was super stuffed up. I was also tired from waking up early in the morning to catch the airport shuttle.
Mid-blow, I heard a voice complaining, "You mind? Geez!" It was a rough looking woman in her 50's, and her slightly younger girlfriend, in the seats in front of the bathroom.
"What? Me?" I asked, surprised since I was minding my own business, and unsure what I was doing that was so offensive.
"You're blowing your nose right in my EAR!" growled the woman. For a visual: think Roseanne Barr on a bad day.
"I'm sorry!" I stuttered. "Where am I supposed to go?"
"To your seat! I don't want your disgusting germs near me!" spat back the woman, with an echo from her girlfriend, "Yeah!"
"But I'm in line for the bathroom too. What should I do?" I asked, confused.
They had gotten tired of wasting their superior time on me and now gave me the cold shoulder. I apologized to the air and warned that I had to finish blowing my nose.
I was still waiting and then got angry thinking about it. I said to them, "I hope you don't mind that I have to stand here. Can I breathe your air?"
The woman glared and me and snarled, "You better drop it."
Just then, my turn came up. "You guys are mean," I retorted, and left.
On my way back to my seat, I had to pass them again. I had the luck of accidentally bumping her. Those aisles are small, and there was turbulence.
I made it back to my row, which was three seats in front of theirs, when I heard her actually yelling at me. Mind you, my head is stuffed and I can't hear that well, and I'm tired. All I want to do after this trip is curl in the fetal position and suck my thumb to sleep.
"You! Get back here! You bumped me!" she howled.
I walked back to her. "What?" I said. "It was an accident."
"First you blow your nose in my ear. Then you bump me. You want to start something with me? You watch it! YOU START IT AND I WILL FINISH IT!" she hollered, with passengers now turning to look. Even her yes-man girlfriend was now embarrassed and trying to calm her down, tell her to drop it.
I repeated that I must have bad balance from this cold.
"YOU DO NOT! DO YOU WANT ME TO REPORT YOU TO THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT?" she screamed. My head cold/fatigue helped buffer and dull the impact of her rage. It felt like those dream sequences where you see the action in slightly slow motion. I also felt like I had ear muffs on.
"Yes," I said, wondering how a runny nose might qualify as a crime.
She stood up out of her seat, her face coming into mine like a WWE wrestler. I thought she was planning to push me on her way out of her chair.
At that moment, a flight attendant rushed up, a six-foot-something, 200-pound-something man. In my Sudafed-fogged memory, he gestured us apart with his arms, at which point I returned to my seat.
Claus had heard the commotion and asked me what was going on. I could only shake my head and chuckle that the most ridiculous thing happened. As I was sliding into my row and saying this, I heard the woman saying to the attendant, "Now she's laughing at me!"
Shortly thereafter I turned around to look and see if the attendant was still there. The woman somehow noticed me doing that and did the Meet the Parents "I'm watching you" eye gesture. Seriously??
I had to pass them many more times on the flight and there was no further eye contact or incident.
Much later, the flight attendant saw me in the kitchen and told me not to take it personally, because she and her girlfriend had also had fights with two other people near them. He had told them they need to be more tolerant and reasonable.
Look, I had a difficult week, too, and air travel is frustrating nowadays, but I'm not snapping at the people around me. People need to be more patient. Or in this lady's case, meds.
Have you had/ witnessed a fight on a plane?
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