Regular readers will know I have no great love for flying. The whole concept, process, and experience fills me with dread and junkyard-dog meanness.
I try to avoid it whenever I can, but that is simply not always possible given what I do. And most times it all passes without much fuss. But now and again, flying plumbs depths of shit both new and vile.
Like this last time.
Aprilia had been kind enough to invite me to Melbourne to ride its new SRGT scooter. And so I did, and I will report my findings in due course. And then, press launch over, I was deposited at the airport some three hours before my scheduled flight to Newcastle was meant to leave.
All of this is perfectly normal and no cause at all for concern or complaint.
Please understand I was a little weary. It’d been a cold day, and I had expended a goodly amount of energy not crashing the scooter on the damp go-kart track and keeping myself warm. Also, my boots were new, and I was wearing them in, so they were not the most comfortable things for long marches through vast terminals.
But hey, if the shit-eater driving the cab dumps me 800m from the QANTAS terminal because he eats shit, his life is shit, and he wishes me to share in this shit, who am I to complain?
That’s right. No-one.
So I did not complain. I got out and started walking, the boots chewing a painful hole in my left heel. I nonetheless walked stoically and showed no sign of discomfort, for I am stoic, and to display signs of weakness invites attacks from predators.
I could not wait to sit down, have a beer, and relax a touch before my flight. I went through security, found the bar, and did just that. Then I observed the gate number for my flight. It was 28. I got up and marched to Gate 28 – stoically, and with great dignity, despite the cankerous blister now weeping into my left boot.
I sat down, pulled out my book and started to read, hoping this would distract me from the pain I was in.
An hour later, still an hour before the flight was to leave, my phone pinged. My QANTAS app advised me the flight had been delayed ten minutes. I made a face. I went back to my book. Ten minutes later, my phone pinged again and told me the flight had been delayed a further half-an-hour. I made another face. I called my wife.
“These useless plane cunts have delayed this stupid fucking flight for another half-an-hour. They have made no explanation for this bullshit, and their apologies are hollow and false.”
“Go get something to eat.”
“I do not want anything to eat. I ate most of a Sardinian goat with polenta for lunch and a tiramisu the size of a helmet. I want to get on a plane and come home. My feet hurt.”
“Remain calm,” she advised. “I beg you.”
Then my phone pinged again. QANTAS had decided my flight would not now depart from Gate 28. It would instead depart from Gate 12.
I closed my eyes. I saw myself slaying innocent people with my carry-on luggage. I saw myself tearing off someone’s arm and beating an airport employee into Hell with it.
The vision passed, and I walked stoically and expressionlessly to Gate 12 as my boot gnawed its way right through to my heel-bone.
I sat down again. I was hatred incarnate. I loathed the world and everyone in it. I despised the airport, its staff, and the airline. I wanted to scream and run through the terminals like a meth-filled rhino, but my left foot was crippled, and I was just going to sit here quietly, and stoically, until my flight boarded.
My flight was meant to be boarding. But it was not boarding. The Departures board said ‘Proceed To Gate’. I had done so and was at the gate. So I had complied. I now wanted it to say ‘Boarding’ so that I could comply with that, but it stayed stubbornly at ‘Proceed To Gate’.
Clearly, QANTAS did not give a damn about my compliance. In our world, compliance is rewarded. That is how we are trained. You obey, submit, and comply, then you get a nice biscuit and a pat on the head. I had duly complied. Where the fuck was my biscuit and pat?
My phone pinged again. The flight was once again delayed for another 20 minutes. I was already meant to be in the air. Instead, I was in a departure lounge, slowly becoming a rhinocerous.
Then an announcement came over the PA. Qantas expressed its regrets. Then it explained there was to be another gate change and a further delay while the aircraft was cleaned, fuelled, and re-packed with odious airline food. The new gate was Gate 27.
I got up and marched back to Gate 27. It was right next to Gate 28, where I had been half-an-hour ago. The sheer cosmic shitfuckery of this seemed to be lost on everyone except me. My rage had become fury. Soon, it might turn in to actual wrath as my inner rhino manifested. Then we would see some fucken boarding, let me tell you.
But my fury remained well-buried.
And there is nothing worse than burying your fury. It causes all sorts of problems. But you can’t take it out on the QANTAS staff. They are not to blame. And they won’t tell you who is to blame, because they know you’ll take it out on whoever that is. People in airports have been known to be unreasonable and unpredictable. I am only the former.
I noticed people standing up and loosely crowding around the departure gate. The herd mind felt that if enough of the herd stood mutely at the gate, things would happen quicker. I knew that if I went and stood there as well, the police would come and beat me like an animal and take me to gaol. Such would be the intensity of my wordless glaring at the QANTAS staff, whom I did not blame at all for the shitfuckery of their airline. But you have to glare at someone, right? Glaring at a gate is pointless.
Ten minutes after our promised boarding time, we boarded the plane and I sat down in an aisle seat, closed my eyes, and resigned myself to dying with dignity, courage, and a mutilated foot, should the plane fall from the sky at some stage. I always do this. It’s nothing new.
The flight was full, but the window-seat next to mine remained empty. I was full of hope it would remain so. I do not get on planes to make friends. It’s bad enough we have to sit as close as we do. Let’s do it in silence.
The captain announced that since we were in a hurry to meet the 10pm curfew at Newcastle airport, QANTAS would not be serving any meals, because that would mean a further delay on the runway, and we really needed to be up and on our way right sharpish.
Then the Model made her way down the aisle. I had seen her in the terminal. Everyone had. A tall, willowy, neon-blonde girl about 20-years-old, with perfect features, clutching three bags, four jumpers, and a bright pink puffer jacket. You could have seen the bitch from space.
“Oh yeah, hi, excuse me,” she breathed at me, hoisting two of her bags and a jumper in the direction of the window seat, “I need to get in there.”
“No problem,” I said, getting up and letting her in. I stood painfully in the aisle while she made a nest for herself. I even helped by putting one of her bags into the overhead locker.
Then I sat down. She smelled of bulimia and hair product. It was a smell I had encountered many times before.
“OHMYGOD!” she suddenly screeched, whipping around like she’d been zapped with a Taser. “Where’s my phone?! Have you seen my phone?”
“No,” I said. “I have not seen your phone.”
“Is it over there on that seat?” she eeked, pointing across the aisle where a woman was breast-feeding her baby.
“I can’t see,” I said. “There’s some baby stuff going on over there.”
“Excuse me!” the Model yelped at the breastfeeding lady. “Is my phone on your seat?”
The lady looked blankly at her, obviously wondering how such a thing could happen, then somehow struggled into a strange half-upright position holding her suckling child, and tried to look at her seat.
“I can’t see it,” she said, and sat back down.
“OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD!” the model yammered, getting up and wanting me to get the fuck out of her way while she clambered over me and went in search of her phone. I did that, while briefly considering how funny it would be if her face crashed into my knee.
She stalked up the aisle where people were still putting their bags into the overhead lockers, found a hostess, and told the hostie she may have dropped her phone on the tarmac and could the hostie go and have a look. Then she came back, squeezed past me, folded her two-metre-long legs into the window-seat space, and continued freaking out and rifling through her manifold jumpers and bags.
The hostess returned and advised her there was no phone on the tarmac.
“What am I going to do?!” the Model demanded to know.
The hostess blanked her and went about the business of securing the cabin for take-off.
“Can you please call my phone?!” she said to me.
“Sure,” I said. “What’s your number?”
It was not lost on me that many, many, many men had asked her that same question, and been told to go fuck themselves, or been given a haughty brush-off, or a contemptuous laugh.
She gave me her number. I called it. Silence reigned all around us. Nothing was ringing, except maybe the bells in her head.
“Call it again!” she squeaked.
Once again, I called and we listened intently. Nothing.
“What should I do?” she demanded of me.
“Calm the fuck down would be a start,” I said quietly. “Then buy another phone when you get a chance.”
She stared at me blankly. I have seen that look many times. Really hot girls adopt that expression when they are met with a situation their good looks cannot resolve.
I have worked with models almost my entire career. They are some of the most beautiful creatures placed upon this earth. And as such, they are fully aware of what power their looks afford them. Men, simple once-celled creatures that we are, will do anything for a really beautiful woman. Anything.
But familiarity, friends and relatives, does indeed breed contempt. That devil-sex-vagina magik these bitches wield with such flagrancy is useless on me. I am immune to it. And that doesn’t compute in their minds.
“But I don’t have my phone!” she oinked.
“You said that. Most of the plane is aware of that.”
She gave me a look she imagined was filled with daggers, then went back to rifling through her jackets and bags. And then she found it. It had been in the pocket of the jacket she was wearing.
“OHMYGOD!” she squealed. “Here it is!”
Then she stared at it with a frown. “But why didn’t it ring when you called it?”
“Do you have it on silent?” I asked.
“There you go then,” I said, and went back to my book as the plane taxied for what seemed to be the best part of an hour, which made me think maybe the pilot was planning on driving to Newcastle, before it finally took off.
The model, my usefulness at an end, her world restored upon its axis, busied herself with her phone. I couldn’t help myself. I did snatch a few looks at what she was looking at, and was entirely unsurprised.
She was looking at herself. The whole time. Of course, she was. Self-validation is a wondrous thing.
The entire hour-and-a-bit of the flight, she scrolled through endless images of herself, pausing only to switch to the camera so she could examine her living self on the screen, turn her head this way and that, then go back to scrolling though more photos of herself.
She paused briefly to summon the hostess and demand some gluten-free food, but was told there was only water.
“What kind of water?” she wanted to know.
“Bottled water,” the hostie replied in that wonderful tone hosties use when dealing with human trash. “It’s gluten free.”
The Model said she would have one of those, then rummaged in her bag and produced some potato chips and consumed them like a vacuum cleaner, then pulled out an emery board and started doing her nails, which meant her nail dust was floating onto me.
I resolved to kill her. No-one would care. My fellow passengers might well applaud the move. There were lots of other pretty girls in the world. One less would have no impact.
Who would miss her? Her boyfriend would probably send me a fruit basket in gratitude. Her girlfriends would all rejoice she was gone and no longer a threat to their boyfriends or their self-esteem. Her parents? Yeah, they might miss her a bit. But weighed against the general benefit to mankind, their grief would be bearable.
The only real question was how.
Repeatedly elbowing her in the face would be satisfying, but it would not be quick. Twisting her head until her neck snapped might give me a cramp because of the way I would have to turn my body, but it would be quick, and there wouldn’t be any blood. Choking her would be messy because the chokee tends to kick and struggle violently just towards the end. If I had a pen, I could drive it into her eye…but I did not have a pen.
I figured I could put up with a cramp.
“Cabin crew, please prepare the cabin for landing.”
Damn it. My timing has never been very good with women.
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