I know – I have been writing many stories about flying these days. And here’s another one…
Durban last week, Wednesday. The flight up to Durban was wonderful. British Airways. Lovely vegetarian curry – prepared by Woolworths with a little plain chocolate for dessert. Drinks – enough to keep you hydrated and enough legroom to stretch out and feel like you are flying Business Class.
Then, horror of horrors. We needed to change our return flight. We had a last-minute request for a workshop on Friday of last week, so we had to fly back the Thursday evening – and no BA flights, so we booked with…drum roll please…Mango. And try as I might not to be snobbish about flying, the Mango experience is a little peculiar. The space between the seats is terrible. Knees in your back, your knees in someone else’s back – that type of thing. Buy your food…not a problem. Just don’t eat. But others don’t follow suit.
They need to buy those barbecue Fritos or a cup of tea with milk and four sugars! Or those dry cheese and tomato sandwiches.
But, I digress. Gary and I are good with the booking of specific seats. Or, should I say our travel agent is. She knows we like aisle seats so she pre-books us on two opposite aisle seats. This time we were in 6C and D. The flight was full, and in steps a plump white woman (sorry, the plumpness and the whiteness will make sense a little later) with her baby – about three months old. (Should they even be flying at that age?). She asks Gary (in 6D) if she could sit on the aisle with the baby. No problem, sit there if you must.
This means he now has a middle seat – 6E! Not any middle seat, mind you, a Mango middle seat! She then asks whether the husband could sit next to her – if Gary wouldn’t mind moving to 7E as they were booked into 6E and 7E, behind each other.
So I said to her but we (Gary & I) are actually flying together and took the time to get the seats we wanted (subtext: why did you not do the same since you knew you were traveling with a three-month young baby?).
So, she backed off Gary and sat, with her big body, with baby, with blanket, trinkets for baby, a sandwich from Wimpy, and often whipping out a breast to feed baby, while Gary sat, decorously, squashed in 6E!
But that is not the clincher – here is what she also tried – she tried to get the man sitting in 7D behind her to also change seats with her so that she and her husband could now sit together in 7D &E! And that was when that old coloured in me came out and thought – no man, I have had enough of this woman! And, it was a reminder of the old regime…uprooting us and all.
Woman, you have, about ten minutes ago, worked on my last nerve and now you are trying my patience to the hilt! This seat you are in (6D) is not yours to negotiate with! It is Gary’s seat that he so amiably gave up for you and your brat! If you want to negotiate, then negotiate with your own seat – 6E! And of course the man in 7D said no thank you to a middle seat, so she had to sit for two hours, fat body and all, trying to make eye contact with me throughout the flight. And I just sat, coldly staring ahead of me, waiting for the “Welcome to Cape Town International Airport” announcement. And I am not one of those persons who make total fools of themselves for babies by goochi-goo-ing and what not for their pleasure. And somehow I do believe that people who have toddlers or babies feel they have some kind of special rights. Me, I do not subscribe to that school of thought.
Now to some this story may seem very snooty, arrogant even, or whatever synonyms you may come up with. As for me, I am way within my rights. I don’t mind helping my fellow human being, but fellow human being must also know when they are unfair or not playing their part in the negotiating. Does that sound so unreasonable?