My wife Angela and I were flying from Sydney, Australia to Los Angeles. It was a 13-hour flight and we tried to prepare for it as best we could. But 13 hours on a plane is a challenge to say the least.
We were fortunate enough to have a spare seat between us, so we could stretch out and Angela actually fell asleep for part of the trip.
I have trouble sleeping on planes, which made the “incident” even more surreal.
After about nine hours of flying, a female couple sitting behind us were having an argument. The one woman moved from the centre seat to the empty aisle seat, banging the fold-up table as she moved. No big deal, but when she moved into the aisle seat, she not only hammered the top of the seat, but she also started banging the fold-up table like a punching bag.
I tried to ignore it, but I was on high alert.
About an hour later Angela got up to go the bathroom.
That’s when it happened.
The woman behind me began yelling at her girlfriend, swearing and being really loud. I tried to ignore it, but she was really obnoxious and extremely cruel to her partner.
I sat as long as I could, but after she dropped a couple of “F” bombs, I couldn’t take it anymore.
Standing up, I turned around and yelled: “Will you please be quiet.”
The woman doing all the swearing turned to me and stuck her finger in my face.
“Turn around mate,” she said in her Australian accent. “Turn around mate.”
As she’s pointing her finger at me, I was busy swatting it away like an annoying fly. I was very aware that provoking an already pissed-off person was probably not the best idea, but I couldn’t help myself.
“I’ve had it with you,” I yelled. “Keep it down.”
She was having none of it as she continued to stick her finger into my space.
I had said my peace and sat back down, all the time expecting a punch to the side of the head or worse.
Meanwhile, Angela had been in the bathroom during the confrontation and had no idea what was happening. She was rather shocked when one of the flight attendants came up to me and crouched beside my seat to have a talk.
“Are you OK?” she asked. “I’ve had a long talk with the woman behind you and I’m sorry about that. I can move you to a different seat if you like.”
There was no way I was going to move. My ego was now on the line.
“No, I’m fine,” I said with an awkward laugh.
“What was that all about?” asked Angela.
As I explained the situation, she responded in a way that only Angela can respond.
“Are you crazy? You should have moved. They may have put you in first class!”
God love her.
After that, things were quiet…for a while.
About an hour later, the obnoxious woman’s partner got up to go the bathroom. My nemesis had to stand up to make way for her partner. But instead of sitting back down, she went to the row in front of me, leaned on the headrest and just stared at me.
“Do we have a problem?” I asked her, again not believing the words coming out of me mouth.
“Do we have a problem?” I repeated.
She simply stared at me, not saying a word and not moving. When her girlfriend came back, they both sat down and things were quiet for the rest of the flight.
But the last word goes to Angela.
“You’re lucky she didn’t want to fight,” said my wife, “because I would’ve had to save you.”
You always have my back.