I´m currently killing time in a bus station in Marbella, so figured I´d post an update. Especially given how neglected my poor blog and readers have been lately. It´s a pity I have so much luggage and that it´s raining because I´ve heard Marbella is nice to walk around.
So anyway, having an interesting journey on my third trip to Europe since Sept 08. I´m still trying to work out if the reactions I´m getting are based on my age or my gender, but I´m trying not to dwell on it.
On the plane ride between Milan and Malaga I had quite a typical specimen sitting behind me. He was a white, middle aged man (obviously from the ´he´) using a laptop, so presumably important in some way, even if only in his own head. And he was definitely important in his own head. The flight attendants were some of the nicest I´ve encountered so far (and I´ve been on a lot of flights…); unexpected given I was flying with a discount airline.*
The woman next to me appeared to be slightly older than middle aged and was travelling with a four year old girl. She didn´t speak English or Italian (she was Romanian fwiw), and it appeared to be her first flight from her reactions to various things. I helped her, as best I could through the language barrier, to put on the seatbelts and follow the basic instructions of the staff. When the food cart came along, she attempted to purchase a hot chocolate for the little girl, but only had a 50 euro note on her. Now I don´t know what the hell is the issue on this continent, but they will very rarely accept such a large denomination for anything, and when they do it´s always with lots of sighing and pointed looks at all the extra work you´re giving them. This woman had nothing smaller than a 50 and could not understand the attendants, although they did try switching languages for her, and even attempted Spanish. At this point I checked my wallet and took out enough money for her hot chocolate and my coffee. It seemed to be the easiest course of action, and also felt like the right thing to do. As someone who travels quite frequently, and often alone, I´m grateful for every little bit of help I receive from strangers, whether it´s directions, help with my luggage (it´s so heavy! and there are so many stairs! everywhere!), or whatever. So I helped her out because I could. I only include this part of the story because when I was reflecting on the second part it struck me as twice as ridiculous given this part.
The specimen behind me had missed out on buying food and proceeded to throw a tantrum when the attendant walked past with a rubbish bag. He was demanding to know why he hadn´t been asked if he wanted anything, and the attendant attempted to explain that he had walked past quite obviously with a cart full of food and drink, and everybody around this man had managed to buy something. Specimen cut the explanations off and advised the attendant that he did not want any of his attitude and he just wanted to order. He spoke down to the staff member and was rude enough to make me want to intervene on behalf of the poor man. I didn´t because it would only have made his job harder – this comes from experience with bad customers as a customer service rep.
Later, I´d had enough of constantly being kneed in the back by this arsehat, and I turned around and advised him it was annoying and requested he stop. He stared at me with a look on his face that clearly showed he did not care and wouldn´t be stopping but just said ís that so?´and nodded at my request.
He continued to knee my entirely unsurprised self, so I reverted to a tried and true method of making people stop this shit on planes – I leaned forward, then leaned back in the chair as hard as I possibly could. He did not like that, and it was the opening he had been waiting for to let go at me. He proceeded to tell me off, adopting a position of authority and superiority. I suppose he´s used to that working on younger females. It didn´t. I cut him off and told him off right back. I also advised him that if he´d like the pushing back to stop he was to stop kneeing me in my back or it would continue. At this I turned around and the woman next to me looked concerned and asked me a question. I did the universal sign for ´crazy´** and we both giggled and went back to what we were doing.
Now, any of you who have dealt with this type before know that´s not the end of the story. And any of you who have never dealt with this type before, I´d be curious why not, especially if you´re not a male. Anyway, the specimen proceeded to tell me that I was an impudent young girl with no manners and that I badly needed to be taught some. I kinda think it would have been quicker for him to say feminist, no? In fact had I been older, I´m sure the telling off would have taken a different tack. I told him off again and pointed out that he should take a look at the way he´s spoken to everybody on the plane since we got on before he starts talking about manners. He was less than impressed and repeated, in a much quieter voice, that I need some manners.
I think ´impudent young girl who badly needs some manners´should be my new name. I´m kind of in love with it as a description of who I am. I just doubt the woman I helped (who also needed help with the landing instructions and directions once we got off the plane, which I provided happily) would describe me the same way. And I fully doubt anyone within hearing distance of the man would describe his behaviour as courteous or overflowing with manners.
*Easyjet – thank you so much for providing a cheap airline without the ín yuor face´sexism of ryanair. I wasn´t kidding when I said I would never fly with them again, but you´ve made this so much easier. And the staff were amazingly nice. Although I do find it funny that, on a flight from Milan, Italy to Malaga, Spain, the safety demonstration was given in English only. Problem there?
** yes this is problematic. Using crazy as an insult is the same as using any description of any minority group as an insult. I don´t really know what the universal sign for ´entitled angry arsehat´ is, so I was left with no alternative. I apologise to any and all offended by this.