As I sat in the departure lounge waiting to boarded the first 15 hour leg of my 25 hour journey I started to get my inevitable feeling of anxiety contemplating which version of hell I was in for/sitting next to. Was it going to be the crazy lady insisting she had to leave her leg stretched out in the aisle because it was sore, blocking everyone’s way, compelled to tell them why she needed to do so every single time someone needed to pass, clutching her leg and moaning through out the entire flight. Or was it going to be the inconsiderate a*hole, man-spreading himself into half your space as well. Perhaps it was going to be the chatty Cathy who wants to talk endlessly about utter bulls*#@, forcing you to pretend to be asleep the whole time when you just wanted to watch a movie in peace. I swear these are true and actual accounts.
I was suddenly jolted from my visions of hell by the sound of a screaming toddler in full tantrum mode approach the gate, and it sent me into a cold sweat. I did feel a twinge of sympathy for the mother who was carrying the writhing child by one arm and a leg while chasing after her other child who was running away from her as they tend to do at the worst possible times. The twinge quickly went away as I was more concerned about myself and the possible ramifications. As an agnostic, I instantly became religious and started praying “Please God, don’t let me sit anywhere near them!” As you can probably guess they sat right behind me. Depending on your life philosophy, you could argue God was punishing me for doubting him (or some other infringement I’ve committed somewhere along the way), or as my Buddhist friend would say, be thankful for being tested because it gives you the opportunity to learn patience, tolerance, acceptance and all that other crap Buddhist believe in.
No philosophy was helping at this stage as this was a completely new version of hell I’d never experienced. Not only did the toddler have the lungs of a professional opera singer but the older child decided to be a complete cliché and immediately started kicking the back of my seat while his mother joined the cliché by completely ignoring what was happening. I felt the fear and panic rise in me as I asked myself WTF was I going to do, how was I going to endure 15 hours of this? In my head the scenario went quickly from polite but stern words with the child/mother, then escalating into an argument where the whole plane and cabin crew turn against me because I’m a baby hating monster, ending with me being restrained/tased by an air marshal. I don’t even know if there are such things as air marshals flying out of Australia, perhaps that just happens in the movies or America, but I decided I’d better try real hard to be more Buddhisty and accept it because I’m too chick shit to make a scene, and also just incase there was an air marshal on board I didn’t want to risk being tased either.
The screaming and kicking only lasted a few hours, but at the time it seemed like dogs years, and in the end I did feel a bit sorry for the mother, after all she’s got to put up with those two brats for the next 25 years. Although enduring the experience didn’t quite make me achieve enlightenment, it did teach me a valuable lesson which was not to forget my noise cancelling headphones again.