As I boarded my second flight en route to Stuttgart last night, I had a realization as I was walking down the aisle. I had not been stopped in security, patted down, detained, strip searched or harassed by zi Germans. And somehow, I felt sad, empty and disappointed.
Had no one wanted to touch me discreetly over the pants? Did I somehow manage to not look sketchy and homeless or like a drug smuggler? Is this the treatment I get for showing up early, prepared, sober and WEARING UNDERWEAR? Well, hmph. This is nothing I hate more than a day without drama and frankly, this attention whore was disappointed. So much so that as I stored my carry-on and wiggled into my seat of Austrian Air luxury, I fondly thought back to better flights, ones filled with hints of danger, blurred vision, frantic missed connections and aggressive verbal exchanges where I shrieked words only in English to morons that only spoke International Gibberish.
In the midst of all this reminiscing, I suddenly remembered a United flight I took in 2007 from San Francisco to DC in which an initially delightful flight turned horrific the minute an elderly woman started beating me severely while I was sleeping and I could not escape.
Back in those days, detainment and strip searches were never an issue, sadly enough. Those issues seem to have only started around the time I obtained a passport and filled it with more than ten stamps. Back then, my days of flying simply and undetected, the most I had to worry about was blacking out at the airport bar and missing my flight because I actually physically couldn’t figure out where my gate was. Like that hasn’t happened to anyone else. Also, I have a formula to explain.
Gin + gate numbers + time management – sobriety x the heatherfactor = EPIC AIRPORT FAIL
So anyway. I boarded this flight with my coworkers after a weekend work trip. I remember being hungover and tired but that’s what happens when weekends are funded by company credit cards. Whatever, at least I was sober.
Taking my preferred seat, I leaned against the window and waited. Shortly after, a small and harmless looking woman sat down next to me, jostling around acting generally annoying, swinging her carry-n around and invading my personal space. When she finally sat down, I watched her fumble around trying to put her Maine license back in her wallet and not exactly succeeding, while at the same time clinking some glasses around in her purse, which at the time, I thought nothing about.
As we took off, I looked her way and smiled, offering, “You’re from Maine?”
She whipped her head toward me and her crazy eyes made mine open wide as I stopped smiling and tried to back away from the crazy faced person that now sat before me.
“How do you know that? Are you following me? Who told you that?” She was shrieking and in my head I started shrieking because first of all, I was in that fucking seat first so I couldn’t have followed anyone and I wasn’t even talking to anyone so obviously no one told me fuck all and ohfuckingshit I was sitting next to a skitzo who was clearly being followed by the FBI while being probed by aliens and shit, yes, she was that crazy and for fucks sake all I had wanted to do was relax on this flight and I know you can’t fight crazy with more crazy, as fun as that is, so I tried to talk Old Wild Eyes down.
“Oh. No. Sorry. Nothing like that. I just saw your license. I’m from Maine. I’m going there soon.” I smiled, like I was offering that bit of personal information as a peace offering or Christmas gift. I have no idea why I feel compelled to share a moment with everyone that’s from Maine, like we are long lost cousins. Also, talking to strangers always fucking backfires on me. And besides, Old Wild Eyes was having none of this. She was bullshit at me for reasons unknown. In fact, she had nothing to say to me but instead just hissed and turned away from me to look for something in her bag. That was fine by me. I chased a sedative with some ginger ale, put my headphones on and looked forward to my 7 hour nap as I headed east.
Two hours into my nap, I was in my deep sleeping mode, heavily sedated, sleeping peacefully and drooling when all of a sudden, I felt my face smack off something hard and I heard growling and before I could figure out what the fuck was going on, I opened my eyes slowing, half drugged, only to see Old Wild Eyes foaming at the mouth and one inch from my face. It looked like she was either going to spit on me or bite me and I had no idea what rapid response I was supposed to put forth here but it was just before my face smacked off the back of the seat in front of me again that I felt her hand on the back of my head, fingers fully entangled in my long blonde hair, which at the time was being ripped from my head at the very same time my face was smacked off hard and cheap plastic.
What.the.FUCK was going on? I was so tired and she seemed so angry and when I tried stand up in my window seat, the little old woman, who know had some elderly version of retard strength, started banging her fists down on my shoulders as she spewed a bunch of nonsense that does NOT EVEN EXIST IN AN ENGLISH DICTIONARY and it was around this moment that I started to get fucking bullshit and fight back. I don’t think my mom ever said ANYTHING about not punching a violent old woman.
And by fight back I just mean scream help and try to pry her arthritic hands off my fucking luscious locks. This bitch had lost it. I looked over and saw 6 little wine bottles on the floor and about 15 bottles of pills in her straw bag. Awesome. I love it when the old hag next to you blacks out on booze and drugs and then beats you for no reason just for the fuck of it on a Thursday. Somehow I had a feeling I’d be doing this to some unsuspecting youngster one day but there was no time to consider future regrets in life so I did what any normal person would have done in this situation. I hit her back and tried to climb over the seat in front of me, right onto the person’s lap who was staring at me by twisting their nosey fucking neck BUT NOT HELPING ME BY STOPPING THE ABUSE.
All the while I’m yelling as loud as I can, “HELP MEEEEEEEEE! MAKE HER STOP BEATING MEEEEEE!!” I could see people looking at me, including at least one of my coworkers a few rows up and MY BOSS, who always assumed everything was my fault and so we’ll assume that’s why he just stared at me and did nothing except smirk and later ask, “What did you do to the old woman, Heather?” Because RIGHT. I somehow egged an innocent old woman on and tricked her into beating me in my sleep.
Five minutes into my beating, airport drink handlers, four of them, dragged the women off me, but not before she scratched me and also slapped me across the face, I’m sure for good measure and thank god I was still somewhat sedated because at this point I was so angry that I was shaking and ready to early death that bitch.
“We’re going to have to separate you two and put you on opposite ends of the plane.” The ugly stewardess with ugly hair and ugly lipstick said to me as I attempted to drag my leg off the seat in front of me and pull my shirt down. United is not known for pretty drink givers. Or young ones, for that matter.
“I didn’t just cage match that woman. She jumped me. I have no idea what’s even wrong with her. Maybe you could ask your fuckbag security people why she was allowed to have 6 wine bottles to drink and I only get one and I think she might need her stomach pumped because all her goddamned pills are either in her belly or on the floor now and I JUST ASKD HER WHERE SHE WAS FROM.” The stewardess just stared at me like I was the crazy one. Whatinthefuck. I was trying to just escape.
“We’ve taken care of the incident,” she said as she walked away unsympathetically. I mean, for fucks sake. I was just in the middle of a true life assault and battery while mid-air and you’d think I could get a few band-aids or some water or a hair brush or something. But no. You know what I got instead?
A motherfucking air marshal to sit next to ME for the rest of the plane ride. Because that’s fair.