Crazy Airplane Lady
We had made it to the last leg of an interminable flight, a little commuter plane from Atlanta to Greensboro, and I was just seating myself beside this woman with short hair, a novel, and a somewhat agitated expression. She had the window seat; Duane and Autumn were across the aisle from me, and as I stowed my bag in the upper compartment she released a long-suffering sigh that just about everyone on the plane could have heard. I paused and glanced back at Duane, raising my eyebrows quizzically as if to say, “did I offend?” I honestly wasn’t sure if it was me, my Vera Bradley pattern, or the man behind me.
He was around six foot seven (poor dude), a baby strapped to his chest, around five other children all in various stages of toddlerdome, and he and his wife were, with good-humored patience, ushering them all into various and sundry seating arrangements, trying to get everyone settled to everyone’s satisfaction. Which isn’t easy with that many kids.
Well, I didn’t have any body odor that I could discern with a discreet sniff, so I settled in with my own book. It wasn’t two seconds later that she emitted another sigh. Actually, it was more like a sighing groan. “Ahhhrrk.” I couldn’t help it. My momma had taught me to be polite, folks, but this woman defied manners. I couldn’t help it. I swiveled my head, first to Duane, and then sideways to my seatmate. I stared.
Again, there was nothing visibly wrong. She just looked…rude. Like a Class- A Stick Up The Spine…you know. Crone. Like she needed to be bent back and forth a few times, made more pliable or something. As I stared, she made a few more Blowing Noises, it seemed in response to those Terrible Sniveling Children That God Had Dared to Create That Made Noise (or something like that…I must confess I didn’t catch quite every word), she shifted unnaturally in her seat, did something strange with her head (it seemed to spin on her neck, several times) opened her book, closed her book, swallowed around a dozen pills, cursed a few times…
I finally stopped staring. Or at least started doing so more surreptitiously, from the corner of my eye. I had to! I was going to bust up! It was a little scary, too. I was a little frightened that she was going to cast a spell on me. She passed the most lunatic, uncomfortable flight I have ever witnessed.
She put her hands to her hair and acted like she was going to tear it out.
She was disturbed, and yes, a little comical in her sheer exaggeration, but in all honesty, I don’t think I’ve ever been so disturbed by an individual. She was so bothered by the children, so rude, that it ultimately bothered me enough to finally ask her in less than polite terms to please stop acting as she was acting. I was angry. I wanted to rage against her, tell her how dare she be that way, that they were just innocent children, of course they were going to talk and whisper, maybe accidentally nudge the chair that was seven millimeters in front of them, and yes, a baby might even burp.
I was so ashamed a while later, as the plane approached its descent, when she surprised me by placing her hand on mine. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I know you probably think I’m a crazy woman.”
“Well,” I answered honestly, ” I did think you might be a little stressed out.”
“I am suffering from the worst imaginable migraine,” she responded. “I just can’t handle it. It’s so painful.”
What a ministry opportunity I missed. We never know why certain people are placed in our paths. Some, like this woman, are gifted with the ability to push our own special set of buttons. I guess mine happens to be children. I reacted to a set of circumstances thoughtlessly, with impulsivity. Definitely another Open Mouth, Insert Foot Lesson for Lori. Man, am I full of grace.