November 4th, 2004 (4:47pm)
Today is my first day at work after coming back from a combination NY / London trip. It took a very long time overall, but the most heartbreaking is the time flying between continents apparently consume. I lost about 4 days from a 12 day vacation to simply "getting there," i.e. 1/3 of my time I should have been spent relaxing is instead spent stressing out on a tiny seat tens of thousands of feet above ground. If anybody could make faster travel at similar prices, or even twice the price to today, I would be the first one to jump on board.
I had some back pain on my flight from Tokyo to NY two weeks ago. As such, I requested to get maybe a better seat to the gate agent, hoping that I get to try one of northwest's new fancy business class seats with there big 10-inch personal TVs. The agent looked at me, and said, well, alright, row 28 is empty and the flight is pretty empty too so why don't you take 28D (isle seat on a four-seat row) and you can lie down.
Well, it's not an upgrade but I have no quarrels about getting to lie down on a four-seat row, from experience the said row fits me perfect. I was a little disappointed, but it was alright.
A few minutes before the flight departed, some woman from the back apparently decided that the row looked awfully tempting, and planted her ass on the other end of the row. We did some evil staring at eachother for a couple hours, and some space hogging the next few, when I went to the bathroom and came back, she took a whole three seats from the row that was supposed to be all mine, sleeping on her side like a swine feeding her little piglets who chew on her mud-stained nipples with their brown, grotesque teeth, yelping whatever discordant sound that muddy swine tends to yelp.
I was quite fed up, so I notified a flight attendant of the situation - after all, she wasn't sitting in a seat where she was ticketed to. The flight attendant woke her up and asked her to move, actually in not-the-friendliest tones. She nodded in shame when asked to confirm that she wasn't ticketed for this seat, and moved to another seat giving me this evil look. To be truthful, I kind of felt bad about it - I didn't really mean for it to turn out that way; the best thing that could have happened was probably that they upgraded one of us, so both of us can live in peace, but oh well.
A bit after dinner, I was doing something on my laptop before going for the awaited long nap. The woman came over and fumbled with one of the seats and left, looking like she was looking for something. I glanced at her and didn't say anything. After that, I stretched out and slept.
A couple hours later, I touched my pants and something the texture of dried mud was flaking off it. I took it off without opening my eyes, but soon my hands landed to another patch. I became curious and sat up. Apparently, the woman took a browny (that was one of the more unappetizing part of the dinner) and placed it on a seat near me, so that when I slept, I would rub myself all over it. It worked pretty well, with all due respect to her espionage skills, I did get it on my pants and my socks - Luckily the browny was kind of dry, so most of it became powdery and I promptly placed them in a vomit bag and tossed them away.
It's incredible how childish some people can be! I didn't really know if I should have been laughing or angry, because it was like a little revenge that a kindergardener would do. I thought that a proper revenge for her would probably be stealing her passport and writing VOID over her visa to the states, or even better something like "suspected terrorist" which would really get her into trouble; but it's really not worth it - especially since she provided me with such entertainment with such a child-like act.
On the way back, it was no less interesting. Inasmuch as I slept almost the whole way on the flight back from NY, it did not prevent me from hearing one of the many annoucements the captain made. It seems that day by day the flight cabin crew gets more loquatious - are they just so lonely up there? Are we some kind of forced audience for them? Anyway, in one of the long annoucements whereby the captain relayed all the information that we could have easily have obtained on the flight-map video screen, in my astonishment he broke into japanese and tried to repeat the 10-minute monologue. I say tried because while there are many foreigners who speaks very good japanese, with all due respect to the said captain, he wasn't one of them. I mean, he kept getting even the the numbers wrong, and let's not talk about the pronounciation. So the guy went something akeen to "welcome to... erm... Northwest, we depart three erm four thirrrrrrty two oh yeah two. [long pause] we arrive, erm, erm, japan, four, erm, forty three erm four okthankyou [click]" The last part was him saying "arigatou" in the fastest possible way and hung up immediately after that. Laughter echoed in the cabin.
The flight attendants, on the other hand, didn't dismiss his attempt as just an attempt, and because either they did not want to upset / embarass the captain, did not make their annoucements as they always do, and just kind of hung out minding their own business. While I really appreciate the fact that upon perusal the information is still available, I can just imagine what kind of state I would be left in if I was just a japanese person who didn't understand the english annoucement beforehand and was looking forward to a proper japanese translation.