Thursday, April 03, 2008

Pretty Angry

I've hit that point in the day where I'm looking for things to amuse me. Fortunately, this popped up and the mission was accomplished.

I don't know what this woman's problem is. But it just goes to show ya, being a wealthy international supermodel does not obfuscate your daddy issues. Like I've theorized for years.

If I'm honest, I have a little problem with schadenfreude. In fact, when I learned the word, I was shocked that there WAS a word that specifically described one of my guiltiest of guilty pleasures.

There really is no better place than the airport to indulge it, either. Lets face it, unless they have taken great pains (and flying lessons) to express their anger, angry people on planes who are not you are kind of funny.

It was April in Philadelphia. A particularly twisted and fun co-worker and I were bound for Atlanta to schmooze some corporate client and sit in a series of mind numbing meetings that would inspire a visit to a martini bar (with the client) and a subsequent Italian dinner that I barely remember except for the breadbasket I shoved in my gullet to make the floors stop slanting up and slightly to the left.

But that was later.

We're in the Philadelphia Airport, C Terminal, at our gate, waiting to board. I had my usual Inspector Gadget carry-on, which took up minimal space yet yielded a full three days' worth of clean undies and interchangeable wrinkle-free corporate dronewear. Three of them could have fit in the 'your bag must be this small to be carried on the plane' test-rack. I stood waiting, e-ticket in hand, for my boarding pass with my co-worker.

In front of us is a gentleman who was about 17 years on the backside of a second-string college wrestling career. A preliminary sketch of his rear-view would begin with a series of squares and rectangles. His frosty-blond prickly crewcut sat squarely on his shoulders above a Hawaiian shirt of the sort of shocking brightness that reminds one of tropical birds, the New Jersey boardwalk, and psychotropics. This was partnered with shorts that would have terminated in the knee region on a man of average height, but grazed our intrepid traveller mid-calf. Loafers, no socks. He was engaged in animated conversation with the gate agent.

I don't know if you've ever been to Philadelphia. There are roughly three kinds of gate agents.

1. Nondescript men, pleasant but terse, no discernible sense of humor.

2. Nondescript underweight women, wrong shade of lipstick, bundled into their uniform-approved cardigan, who you will hear complain in idle moments that they are "cold all the time". They frown, type 800 words a minute, frown some more, and hand you your boarding pass.

3. Shanias

I name type #3 after the gate agent in this story, because she was the best gate agent ever.

Shania was about 5'10", African-American, with one of those gorgeous elaborate hairdos that must take hours. Long acrylic nails. Lots of gold. A person to whom you would give no sh*t because you knew no sh*t would be taken.

Apparently our friend in line had not gotten the memo.

This took place before 9/11, when misbehavior in the airport might have raised the ire of your fellow passengers but wouldn't engender an armed response, necessarily. Nowadays our palm tree-printed friend would have been informed at the get-go that his carryon was waay too big. But he got through to the counter and stood there, hefting a large bag and arguing with Shania.

"This is ridiculous! I do NOT check my bags! I have carried this bag on planes dozens of times! They just stow it up front!"

"Sir, that bag does not fit in the regulation frame, and it does not go on the plane."

"I don't see why I can't! I think you are just being arbitrary! I can make it fit! I will make it fit!"

At this point, idle conversation in the gate area has died down and everyone is studiously pretending to read so they can eavesdrop.

"Sir, you have TWO CHOICES. (Two perfectly manicured fingers go up.) You can check that bag, take your boarding pass, and SIT DOWN, or you can turn right around and go BACK where you CAME FROM, and let the rest of these people get on with it!"

My friend snickers. I elbow her. Mr. Miami Beach's wife is now hissing between her teeth, "JUST CHECK THE BAG."

He huffs, throws it down, and someone takes it to stow. Shania smiles sweetly, slides his boarding passes across the counter, and says "You have a nice trip now." He stomps off and flops into a vinyl chair.

Oh, I would not have taken you this far for just that story. It gets better.

We board the plane, and the tahitian terror is seated directly in front of us. We're only about two rows behind first class, so we see almost everyone board the plane. I kid you not, almost as if it was carefully planned, people started boarding. With bags and other carry on gewgaws that were first the same size, then larger, then CONSIDERABLY LARGER than our friend's oversize carry on. The back of his neck is nearly purple and I begin to fear that I may get my first chance to try out my CPR card on this flight. Now he and his wife are having a whisperfight and all I can catch is the occasional 'please stop' and 'goddamit'. Then, the very bestest passenger ever got on.

I didn't even know they made these anymore. I certainly didn't think anyone carried them around anymore. But one of the last people to board the plane was a young man with one of these on a SHOULDER strap.

I won't even tell you what I typed into Google Images to find that picture because its not PC. But it was a real, live, 8-10 D-Cell battery taking portable disco. As he walks by, our friend, who is sitting on the aisle, catches the radio with his shoulder. "SONOFABITCH!!" erupts from the row in front of us. Now we're done. My friend and I assume the crash landing position for headache-inducing silent laughter as the flight attendant hustles over to find out what the ruckus is about. Red faced, makeup streaming, I point her to the row in front of us and she tries to talk the purple out of his neck for most of the time we should be learning that the nearest exit might be behind you. Flight attendants should teach customer service seminars. She had him calm, a normal shade of corpulent, and we were on our way.

I would have loved to hear the conversation he had with the two gentlemen with badges waiting in the jetway when we landed.


Beware: Social Worker on the edge said...

LOL...good post. I can almost see those two tangerine coloured fingernails of that agent, priceless discription.

Anonymous said...

OH holy crap..errr...crud. I am laughing so hard. Which is bad. Because I'm at work. Gotta go do real work now while still laughing!

Tricia said...

Great story! Someday I'll post about my red eye flight back from Las Vegas and the drunk ass guy behind me. NO time today but it is a good story.

Jocelyn said...

The story itself is really good.

But the way you tell it is AWESOME.

what's a donzer said...

Haha! I don't know about you, but I'l pay good money to see a Shania / Naomi Campbell faceoff!

VE said...

That's hillarious. I used to go only carry on but with all the liquid restrictions, etc I just gave up and now check. I used to carry on two bags, none too big, but some foreign airlines only allowed one bag. I would leave my roll bag hanging back away from me to get my ticket and then once I had my ticket, I never had a problem. If I had rolled up with both, they would force me to check the one.