It occurred to me that I have racked up over 100K miles in the air flying to and from Asia over the last five years.
This last experience certainly has to be one of the most maddening; I think a little part of my cerebral cortex wilted away on this flight.
Somehow $1200 landed me on an ancient 747 — possibly the oldest in Delta’s fleet — in a middle seat on a 15-hour flight to Tokyo. This plane still had cigarette burns on the seat covers, possibly placed back in Sinatra’s hay day…
On either side of me two Japanese college students, who obviously had to know each other but weren’t savvy enough to book adjacent seats, chattered and passed mobile phones back and forth across me.
After the 15th time of seeing a ridiculous cat video go by on the mobile screen, I had a eureka moment: why not swap seats so they could enjoy each other’s company and I could get an aisle seat to stop death by deep vein thombosis?
I pointed to one of the girls, then pointed at her friend with a criss-cross motion, and then to myself. Horrified, both girls stopped talking and practically turned white. A faux pas? Had my gesture somehow been misconstrued across the cultural divide as an invitation for a threesome? I still have no idea, but I am quite sure that somehow a party foul was committed.
With no screen in the seat back in front of me to play games and watch movies (a first on one of these trans-Pacific flights), I knew what I had to do. I always carry an emergency sleeping pill in my money belt, much like a spy carrying his cyanide pill in case of capture.I swallowed the pill and as I waited for sweet escape, the tassel of a mobile phone (Asians love to pimp out their phones) dragged over my leg followed by giggles; another cat video, no doubt.
I woke up sometime in the middle of the night with a strange sensation. A silky, delicate Japanese foot was resting neatly on top of mine under the seat. In my groggy state, I struggled to make sense of this strange twist. I took a peek and my neighbor was still very much awake, yet her foot was certainly resting perfectly conformed to mine.
More awake, I waited another ten minutes to see if she moved it. Nope. At this point there was no way that this could be an accident. Now my adrenaline glands were starting to ask: should we do our thing? Why in the world would she be flirting?
I held perfectly still, terrified to move. I could actually feel this stranger’s pulse through her foot.
I decided that I could no longer take the pressure of wondering what was going on. Tentatively, not even flirtatiously, I gave my foot a tiny twitch — as if it happened in my sleep.
Shriek! Her foot left mine with the speed of a coiled rattlesnake. She banged it hard enough on the metal seat bracketing to shatter bones. So much for that delicate foot. I guess she wasn’t flirting after all.
Horrified, I feigned sleep and never opened my eyes for the rest of the flight. Apparently, she had somehow mistaken my warm foot for the carpet. How? I have no idea; I like to at least think that I don’t have hairy hobbit’s feet, but who knows. No doubt, she would be warning her friend on the other side of me to beware of the American pervert sat in their midst.
Unfortunately, the Japanese girls were only the start of my problems. On my 8-hour flight from Tokyo to Bangkok, Adam Sandler’s new movie came on the ancient screen in front of us — reason enough to crash the plane already. Then on my last flight, the soft-footed Japanese girl was replaced by a sleeping mother holding a squirming two-year-old in her lap.
As mama snoozed, the little bastard kicked, poked, slobbered, and harassed me to the point of lunacy. The kid even crawled into the aisles when the fasten seatbelt sign was on.
I had to struggle not to throat punch mom when she woke up refreshed and didn’t even thank me for babysitting her kid.
All I ask for on a $1200 flight is a little sleep, a sober pilot, a chance to play Bookworm, and enough food to keep me alive. Delta fails on most accounts anyway compared to Korean Air, and even the Chinese airlines.
The Skymiles are nice — I’m just short of another freebie flight — but damn! Maybe next time I should bring that cyanide pill.