The Great Plotnik

Monday, December 23, 2013

Unexpected Present

By Atlanta based GP Travel Correspondent Bubba Q.

Unexpected Present

Two women have brought a loud, yappy poodle onto the plane. It's two days before Christmas. The plane is packed, it's very hot, the overhead bin space is filled, we've already had to gate-check our carry-ons, it's taken fifteen minutes just to file down the aisle to get to row 34, and there seems to be even less leg room than ever. I wedge myself into my row and fall into the window seat. The dog's owner has the window seat directly behind me and the poodle starts to yap as soon as its owner sits down.

The first ten yaps are more surprising than annoying, kind of like someone pounding on a radiator for heat. But we are about to fly across the country and it's getting louder.

After twenty or so yaps, I turn around in my seat and see the dog's head sticking out of its owner's carry-on. Its cute little white curls look harmless.The woman who has it on her lap has on a man's shirt, wears a crew cut and a red baseball cap. Her companion in the middle seat smiles at me with a shrug. I turn back and take yesterday's Sunday Times out of my seat back.  

The dog starts to Yap, capital Y. People in our row look at each other. I try to read. The front page features an article on how airlines are shrinking the distance between seats and passengers are beginning to fight back with deliberate sabotage. The dog is really barking now,

I turn around again. The woman in the middle seat stares at me. I stare back at her. "Well, we're sorry," she says, staring at her partner holding the dog, then back at me. The other woman is speaking baby talk to the dog.

"Mommy's here, it's ok, mommy is here, sweetheart, I love you, mmmmmm, mommy's..."

"YAP," screeches the dog. "YAP! YAP! YAP!"

The human baby in the aisle seat in front of us starts to cry.

"Waaaaah!  Wahhhhh,"




My wife,  sitting next to me in the middle seat, starts to laugh. It's Christmas. We're fucked.

I realize that the baby doesn't bother me as long as the dog is barking. There is a primary and secondary irritation thing going on. The baby is a baby human. My ears must be biologically tuned to accept that sound. The barking rodent behind me is not a child, no matter what its owner thinks.

"Mommy's here, sweetheart."



"Don't worry. Mommy's here."



OK, Christmas, my ass. Now I am seething. An airplane with no empty seats and a screeching poofy dog. We taxi and take off. Now, the change in altitude makes the dog and the baby crazy. The dog is yelping like it's tail is being stepped on and together with the baby we've got amplified Chinese stringed instruments at the volume of amber alerts on your cell phone at 3 am. 

I cannot reach my headphones because I have stowed them in my carry-on in the overhead bin.  I turn around again.

"But we gave her a sedative," says the woman in the middle seat.

"Give her another one!" says an older woman on the aisle.

"But that baby up there is crying too..." The woman in the middle seat begins, but I'm not going for that.

"Nahh," I say. "People bring babies on the plane because they have too. You brought a dog on a crowded airplane at Christmas, not because you had to but because you wanted to. You didn't care about the rest of us, only about yourselves and your little dog."

The woman looks down. "I can see how you would feel that way," she says, apologetic. But she smiles at her friend holding the dog. She shrugs again, while the other woman continues to stroke and coo softly at the screeching animal.

am being careful here. Women usually only have shaved or bald heads for one reason, but we are flying out of San Francisco. If the lady is just butch it's reprehensible behavior, but if she's sick, well...

The sedative might be taking hold. The dog is calming down. I start to notice the baby.

I say to Barb "I need to get my headphones..."

The young guy in the window seat in front of me turns, reaches over his seat and says "Here." He hands me a small plastic bag. Inside it is a Hershey's Kiss, a red-wrapped piece of chocolate, two pieces of bubble gum and...a set of green ear plugs.

"Ear plugs," he says, pointing to the crying baby. Taped to the inside of the plastic bag, along with the candy and ear-plugs, is this nicely-typed note:

"Baby's first flight. Thanks for your patience."

There had been one of these bags on my seat too when I got on the plane. I figured it was some Delta Airlines propaganda so I hadn't paid it any mind. The young parents of the baby had distributed these bags to everyone within three rows of their seat.

The thoughtfulness of that gesture takes me aback. In the great scheme of things, does one person's thoughtfulness cancel out another person's selfishness? The dog has stopped barking, so yes. It can. it's Christmas. 

Life is a series of journeys inside one large voyage. We are all trapped on this one and we will be here until we get off. I eat the Hershey's Kiss. 


At 10:39 PM, Blogger Linda Davick said...

Great story.

At 8:14 AM, Blogger notthatlucas said...

I love that idea of the goody bag for the neighbors. (Does that mean the yappy dog lady got one too, since she was within three rows?) The thing that would have really made the trip special would have been if half the people around you were making calls on their cell phones "Yes! It's me! I'm on a plane! Can you believe it? It's been OK but there's a grumpy guy in front of us that keeps making faces at Fifi, so she's naturally a little stressed."

At 11:24 AM, Blogger The Fevered Brain said...

Lovely, lovely. Thanks, and have a fine visit in NYC. Or wherever.

At 8:34 AM, Blogger mary ann said...

loved this and of course it makes me so happy that we are not on any planes this holiday season

At 5:57 PM, Anonymous finch said...

What a brilliant solution for the new baby, but I too am glad that Sarah et al had to travel (9 hours from DC to Maine and an overnight at the airport) and not us.

And OMG if there were cell phones...

but personally I think dogs should be banned from the cabin unless they are real guide dogs and not the yappy "service" dogs that everyone and their mother seem to have or another other dogs.

Color me totally cranky about dogs on board.


Post a Comment

<< Home