I had just settled into my seat. In my lap were my paperback novel, a Sudoku puzzle book, and a pencil. Life was good. And then the guy two rows ahead of me decided he needed to make a phone call.
His booming voice filled up the airplane cabin.
“Yeah,” he bellowed. “I’m on the plane now, so it looks like we’ll arrive on time.”
“They’re still loading, so we haven’t taken off yet.” He paused briefly. “Looks like there won’t be a lot of passengers.”
Hmmm. How long was this man going to continue his deafening narration? I was already tired of the blow-by-blow.
“I sure am looking forward to seeing you. Honestly, I can’t wait.”
Ack. What’s worse than a loud stranger on a cell phone? A loud romantic stranger on a cell phone.
Thank goodness the flight crew was shutting the door to the aircraft. Next up would be the announcement to turn off our cell phones and portable electronic devices. That would nip this call in the bud before it got too lovey-dovey. Sure enough, the prerecorded message came on. But instead of ending his call, the passenger raised his voice even more.
“In fact, I’d rather spend a day with you at the airport than an extra night in a fancy Florida resort.”
I started looking around for an air-sickness bag. If the guy started making kissy noises, I was totally gonna hurl. I could just see the top of his balding head two rows up. Was this some steamy midlife crisis affair? I glanced around. The few other passengers I could see were studiously ignoring the guy.
A flight attendant made her way up the aisle. Surely she would tell the guy to end his call, turn off his cell phone, and possibly cool himself down with a Moist Towelette. But no! She was only closing the overhead storage compartments. She walked right past the caller and continued toward me. I concentrated all of my feelings into a pitiful, desperate, pleading expression. No good. She passed without noticing.
“Even more impressive,” the caller droned on, “I’d rather spend a day with you in the Newark airport than spend an extra night in a fancy Florida resort.”
Oh. My. Gosh. At this point a 20-something guy sitting across the aisle shifted uncomfortably in his seat, fiddling with his brightly colored necktie. Ah hah! I had an ally! If I made the first move—for example, if I pried up my combination seat cushion-flotation device and lunged for the caller, Gen Y guy would probably back me up. Sure, he was short and I’m not all that strong, but maybe together we could take him! Could his tie double as a rudimentary gag?
“And I can’t wait to see the baby,” the caller continued. “Just think—my baby brother has a baby of his own!”
The jarring shift from my skeptical assumptions to the truth almost gave me whiplash. Shame on me. This guy wasn’t drooling on his trophy mistress; instead he was a big brother touched by the birth of his nephew, blown away by the passing of time that had turned his little brother into a father. My heart overflowed with goodwill for the man and his brother. It was all I could do to keep from grabbing the phone and saying, “Give that baby a kiss from me, too!”
As we rolled down the runway I thought about the assumptions I make every day. I don’t consider myself judgmental, but the facts claimed otherwise. I vowed to do better in the future. No more jumping to conclusions.
Still smiling, I looked once again at the young executive in the next row. We wouldn’t need to tag team any passengers today. What a relief.
But man, that really was an ugly tie. I wondered if he felt obligated to wear it . . .
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