Downgraded To First Class
I have been doing a lot of flying lately. For almost a year now, I have been a traveling OB/Gyn, flying from state to state to fill positions for docs who need time off. I have been enjoying the hell out of this. I escaped from my soul-killing full time job in my awful town, stopped working 80 hour weeks, and now work when I want to.
Because of the awful lot of flying, I have achieved the lofty status of Delta Gold Medallion, which is cool and means I can get upgraded to first class for free. The hopeful word here is UPgraded.
I was flying home from a 2 week job in Ohio, and I had just settled into a seat next to a very nice man who helped me with my carry-on, when the flight attendant appeared in my aisle. “Mr. Beadstork?” MRS. Beadstork, I told her.
I guess it should be MS., since I was too lazy to take my husband’s last name. Or if I were snotty (which I am not), I would have told her it was DOCTOR Beadstork. I do not use that though, except at work, where it is preferable that the nurses address me as such (at least in rooms with patients). I am not enmeshed at all with my title, and it is not on my checks or in any other place that is not work-related. That is my job, not my identity.
I of course thought I must be in some kind of trouble when the flight attendant appeared. This is residual from my misspent youth. She smiled. “You have a seat in 1A.”
Yay! An upgrade! I of course had to retrieve my carry-on from the overhead bin so I could move it up, and the nice man who helped me put it up helped me bring it down.
I should have stayed in that seat.
When I walked up to the front row, seat 1B was occupied by a very large, very drunk, very crotchety woman, who I swear reminded me of Mimi from the Drew Carey Show, minus the blue eyeshadow, and with a worse attitude. She was VERY put-out that she would not have the 2 seats to herself.
Since it was a bulkhead seat, both my carry-ons had to go into the overhead bins. I opened the bin. “There’s no room in there!”, she snapped. There was room in there.
I went to tuck my backpack in and she snarled at me. “You can’t put that there! There is a VERY SPECIAL BOX up there; I hand carried it across the country for a VERY SPECIAL PERSON!” I felt sorry for the Very Special Person. I told her there was room. “There is NOT room! That box is breakable! And that is my purse!!! It must not be crushed either!”
At this point, another nice man came up from a couple rows back. “There is room. I will help you rearrange things.” At this point, she was pretty much delaying the flight departure. She was standing in the aisle now, rigid with rage, with her hands parked on her ample hips.
The man started to rearrange and she barked, “Don’t touch my package! Don’t touch my package! Don’t touch my purse!” The man gently rearranged and gave her a LOOK. “There,” he said. “Everything fits. Everything is fine. Nothing is crushed.” The woman flounced into her seat, not waiting for me to get into my window seat.
I told her I needed to get into my seat. “Oh for GOD’S SAKE,” she said, getting back up and giving me a look that would wither weeds. I got into my seat and she snatched up both waters, and chucked both blankets and pillows onto my side.
The nice flight attendant inquired whether we would like a beverage. The woman told her, “I’ll take a good gin, with just a splash of tonic.” Normally I would have applauded this decision, since a drink might have mellowed her out, but she was already hammered and was clearly a mean drunk. What she needed was a tonic with a splash of SHUT THE HELL UP. I got a Coke Zero.
I have noticed that everyone drinks in first class. It’s kind of bizarre. I’ll get on an 8:30 AM flight, on a weekday, and I would say 60-70% of the passengers get alcohol. Seriously?? 8:30 in the morning?? Well, I guess it must be 5:00 SOMEWHERE. Like in Bosnia. I am curious. Aren’t they working that day when they arrive? Do they just bop into the boardroom reeking of alcohol? Because I thought 2 martini lunches went out in the 80’s.
I have a flight attendant friend who told me most of them get the drinks just because they are free. “Free” being in quotations because nothing is free, especially not first class. She said the airlines are happy to provide the drinks because most of the time they calm people down. Most of the time.
My delightful seatmate snarfed her gin down and asked for another. The flight attendant brought her another.
She thrashed about and sighed heavily the entire flight. The act of sharing the row was obviously just too much for her. I wanted to say to her, “FIRST WORLD PROBLEM!” but I decided she might deck me and squish me like a bug.
Right after the captain announced our descent, she quickly grabbed the flight attendant. “Time for one more drink?” Grudgingly, the flight attendant brought it to her and told her she needed to finish it before we began our final approach for landing. I was seriously questioning the flight attendant’s judgment at this point but figured that she was just happy to be getting the beyotch off the plane, and was probably as terrified of her as I was.
After finishing that drink, the woman slumped over forward, with her arms dangling in front of her. Great, I thought. She’s going to freaking YACK all over the place. The perfect ending to the perfect flight. Instead, she began to snore. Loudly. Who the hell snores through a plane landing? We even bounced a couple times and slammed on the brakes, and she was still rattling the windows.
She didn’t wake up until folks were standing in the aisles getting down their things. Seldom does one see a woman that fat and that drunk move so quickly. SOMEONE MIGHT TOUCH HER PRECIOUS BOX! And her Louis Vuitton bag! Noooooo!
She tugged at my backpack. “Is this YOUR bag?” She grabbed a strap. Be careful, I told her. It’s VERY heavy. (My computer was in it).
Without giving my statement an iota of thought, and before I could collect my bag myself, she snatched violently at it. And it went straight down with a CLUNK because it was real heavy. Like a couple of bowling balls heavy. And it smacked down straight on her foot.
“OW!!!!” she yelped, and at this point, the entire plane was staring at her aghast because we were, after all, in the front row. And she was being FREAKING loud. And WAY inapropriate.
“OW!! Dammit! That thing is HEAVY! I THINK IT BROKE MY FOOT!” Well, shocker, sweetie. I told you it was frickin’ heavy.
“My foot is BROKEN!” The nice man in the row behind attempted to soothe her. It occurred to me that my computer might well be broken, although its fall was pretty much cushioned by her ample foot. I decided not to point this out to her; my computer might be broken but at this point she was wild-eyed and violent. And LARGE. And MALICIOUS. And SCARY. I decided not to get smashed into a pulp.
She jerked her bag and her box out of the overhead. She yanked them more vigorously than any of us had while trying to rearrange. I thought I heard a faint crunch in the bag.
Broken foot? CRUNCH in the irreplaceable bag? Couldn’t have happened to a nicer person.
She shoved in front of me and lurched off up the ramp, moving in serpentine fashion as if to avoid being hit by gunshot. She was, of course, just drunk. I contemplated the gunshot option with great pleasure.
I feel I escaped with my life, barely. When I booted up my computer at home it worked just fine. I never knew it was possible to take a DOWNGRADE to first class. But I really should have stayed in the back.