Strange animals

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I hate travelling. I spend half my life (or so it feels) travelling and I hate it.
 
Yesterday, for example, I flew back from Spain on a Ryanair flight. Now, despite all its bad press, Ryanair isn’t a bad airline in general. People’s main complaints are that the price initially quoted isn’t the price they end up paying (once taxes and extras have been added).
 
So, possibly in an attempt to simplify this (and/or to make more money for Mr O’Leary), Ryanair has changed its pricing structure. Before, you used to choose your extras individually. Want Fast-Track Security? Click here (and add £A to your total). Want to choose your seat? Click here to select (and add £B). Want Priority Boarding? Click here (and add £C). Two pieces of hand baggage? Just click here (and add £D). Plus various other extras I never used. Now, however, they’ve lumped them together into packages and called them something like Regular, Plus, and Super Plus. Regular is without extras. Plus gives you Priority Boarding, limited choice of seats, and only one piece of hand baggage. Plus, I suspect, costs about twice as much as it used to cost to add Priority Boarding and seat choice. Super Plus gives you Fast-Track Security, Priority Boarding, choice of seat including the front ones and ones with extra leg-room, and two pieces of hand baggage. Super Plus costs more or less the same as it used to cost when you added all of these as individual extras.
 
This meant that approximately 75% of the passengers (including me) had opted for Super Plus.

Which wouldn’t have been such a big deal — only the plane was delayed by around 90 minutes. After about 40 minutes, an announcement was made saying that the plane would be boarding shortly and to facilitate speedy departure, would people with Priority Boarding please form a queue immediately. I initially stayed put because, despite being English, I thoroughly dislike queueing, and I figured I could jump on the end of the line when it started moving. I was expecting the usual 20 or so people.

When I realized the queue was already about 80-people-long, and growing, I thought maybe I should join it anyway, if only so I stood a chance of having somewhere to stash my two bags before the overhead lockers got full. And they had said that they wanted us to get in line to facilitate speedy boarding and, presumably, not miss their slot. i wouldn’t have to wait long, I thought… innocently, naively, foolishly. We stood in that bloody queue for 50 minutes!

 
Once on board, things didn’t really improve. the only good thing was that I had a leg-room aisle seat. Behind me were the cheap seats, so to speak — i.e. those with normal leg room. I’m going to try and draw the set up. M = man, W = woman, C = child, X = me, __ = empty seat, | | = aisle.
 
M __ W | | X __ M
M  W W | | C  C  C
 
The man in my three-seat block had evidently spent the delay at the bar and did not seem to be a happy drunk. I viewed him with no little apprehension, but as soon as he got to his seat he wrapped his inflatable neck cushion around his neck and fell asleep. I smiled benignly upon him and his gentle snores.
 
The woman across the aisle and I got out our books and started to read. The two women behind her decided to have a conversation at the tops of their voices.
 
The children behind me decided to have a sing song. Someone asked the women to ask the children (they were all one party) to be quiet. The women said, in plaintive tones, ‘they’re only singing’ and ‘they’re only children’, but the kids did then shut up. Their mothers (or whoever they were) did not, and the whole plane now knows about Ange’s new kitchen and her double dishwasher that she surely can’t afford on what Rob earns because she can’t be contributing much if anything, even though she says she’s a mobile hairdresser, as the only time she ever goes out of the house is to go shopping, or at least that’s what she says, and not do people’s hair. It was quite amusing at first, but got dull fast. The woman across the aisle and I exchanged glances.
 
Then the child behind the sleeping man apparently kicked his seat. He leapt up with such a yell I thought he was having some kind of fit. Anyway, he turned round and said to the kid, quite politely, ‘Will you stop kicking this seat, please? I’m trying to sleep here.’ The kid responded in sing-song voice, ‘Sorreee.’ Our man went back to sleep.

But not for long, because maybe five minutes later, the kid kicked his seat again. He awoke not so dramatically this time, but more angrily, and said, ‘For fuck’s sake, will you stop kicking this fucking seat or I’ll come round behind you and kick your seat and see how you fucking like it!’ This set the mothers off. They berated the sleeping man for swearing at their children. They called him names. He tried to defend himself but their voices were louder and shriller and he was still half asleep and not quite sober. He knew when he was beaten. He resorted to muttering to himself ‘I was trying to sleep’ and ‘They keep kicking me.’ The woman across the aisle and I exchanged glances again.

The mothers were not satisfied with the man’s grudging submission. Their hackles were raised and they wanted blood. They called one of the flight attendants. They complained that the man had threatened their little darlings with violence. They said they were going to call the police upon landing (though I don’t think they followed through on this). The flight attendant tried to be diplomatic but just ended up making both sides angrier. They didn’t want a mediator; they wanted a champion. The flight attendant, who looked about 15, realized that his fire extinguisher was filled with petrol not water and his best attempts to quell the fire were only causing it to burn more furiously. He scampered away, having, I assume, remembered an urgent task he had to perform at the far end of the plane. The woman across the aisle and I exchanged more glances.

Oh, and then the plane landed, and instantly, people were standing up in the aisle, getting down their luggage from the lockers — and then standing there, necks twisted and backs bent, for the fifteen or twenty minutes it invariably takes before the doors open and the captives are allowed out of their confinement. I will never understand why they do this. It’s not going to get them to their destination any quicker than if they stay in their seats, read their books, and wait until egress is possible. Especially not when they have hold baggage to collect.

People are strange animals. 

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Love in the Time of Dollar-a

In the course of general Facebook exchanges, my friend Julie Willson and I discovered that we are, for whatever reason, the target of a whole range of scammers. (Indeed Julie’s something of an expert in this field as she wrote the very funny and highly informative Virtually Kissing Frogs: How to Stay Afloat in the Online Dating Pond.) She and I live something like 5,000 miles apart, but these con-artists are not daunted by mere geography (after all, dollars, pounds, euros – they’re all spendable). So we started posting screenshots of these BOTD (Boyfriend of the Day) friend requests – and then discovered we weren’t so special after all. Lots of our friends have been getting either the same or very similar ones as well. If you are a woman and you have a FB account, you’ve probably had your (un)fair share as well.

Anyway, normally we ignore, delete, report, or block these individuals, depending on our particular temperament – I tend to just leave them dangling. But today I felt the need for a bit of devilment and replied!

This is the handsome gentleman who contacted me. I have no idea who he really is. Google Image Search isn’t throwing anything up (I haven’t tried Tin Eye on him), but I’d bet good money – assuming I had any – that his name isn’t William Mathew. However, his FB URL identifies him as being one Fatima Haruna Mohammed. I have no idea who she really is, either, although I’m fairly certain she doesn’t look even slightly like the man in the photo.

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Nice flowery meadow, though.

So I sent him/her/them this:

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I wasn’t expecting a response, but just over an hour later, things started to get exciting:

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OK, OK, so I was wrong there. L— kindly points out my error here: ‘It’s perfectly normal,’ he says, ‘for apparently white Western men to have nicknames alluding to genders, ethnic groups and/or religious communities it seems unlikely they could belong to. Just ask my brothers, Avul Pakir Jainilabdeen Abdul Kalam Manakkayar and Patriarch Kirill, or my dad, Bibi Balbir Kaur.’

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As W— observed, this is the elliptical form of ‘What do you do now? Now that you’ve murdered your whole family, I mean.’

What was it Oscar Wilde said about losing parents? ‘To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness’? Losing two parents, a spouse, and a sibling — why, that’s just profligacy! Tcha!

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That last comment had me puzzled for a while, but fortunately K— was on hand to explain that it’s the somewhat creepier version of helicopter parenting. Glad we got that one sorted out.

By the way, if you’re thinking of dashing off and signing up for the US army just for the salary: don’t – a US Army general earns about a fifth of what Fatima William claims.

At this point, he sent me some photos of ‘his’ son, but I won’t reproduce them here because it’s bad enough some scammer pinching photos of someone else’s child for their own nefarious purposes without my using them for shits ‘n’ giggles.

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(Just for clarity: I have no kids. But hey, he said in his profile biog that he’s ‘a honest man [sic]’ who’s ‘looking for honest someone like [him]’, and I’m being every bit as honest as he is.)

It’s at this point, things take a turn for the romantic… and our hero builds up to declaring his undying love (and proposing) to me ❤

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I am  so much nice and kind to him. Also honest. Definitely the best for him, bwahahahah.

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Time to get in the financial demands before he does, no?

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Maybe I should set his nickname to ‘OiPunkDoYouThinkIWasBornYesterday’.

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If I’d had my wits about me, I’d have answered his call. It would be interesting to see what kind of voice/accent he has. Oh well, playing hard to get won’t do any harm, although as B— observes, his days are numbered, as he can’t live without me. So sad. Poor Fat Willy.

Especially if L— is right and ‘it turns out he really is a broken-hearted orphaned/widowed/de-siblinged lonely millionaire US general, just desperate to find that special someone.’ Meh, I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

But I’m going to leave the last words to H—: ‘Wow, they move fast. Who falls for this??’

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