fighting the battle of who understands less.

 illustration by jim darling.

Back in Paris and it feels pretty good. Aside from the stiff neck that has me moving like a robot, and the chilly and wet weather Paris winter is gracing us with, I'd say I'm in the full swing of 2014.

Unfortunately, my trip over was not as smooth as the transition of getting back into town has been. In fact, it was pretty much fresh hell. 

Check it out. It was the first day of my lady friend and I had started antibiotics (for something unrelated), which had left me light-headed. When collecting my ticket at JFK, the gate-agent noticed I was a bit flushed and was kind enough to put me in an open back row in coach so I could lie down once we took off. This is seldom the case so when it does happen, it's the golden ticket; the next best thing to flying premium.

I settled myself into the end seat comfortably and decided to make a trip to the restroom before take off. Upon my return, there was a young guy, my guess he was in his early 20s, sitting in the middle seat, to right of mine. My bag that was there before had been placed on the floor. My first assumption was that a last minute ticket had been purchased or the gate agent was mistaken and the row was not free. No big deal. I was disappointed, but it happens, right?

But no.

Per this guy's chat that he was having over me with his brother who was sitting in the next aisle to my left, he boasted that he just decided to move seats. His explanation: pourquoi pas?

Okay, so the other two seats were not officially mine, nor were they his. I get it. It was the fact that his arrogance allowed him to move his seat along with my things just because? That, was what irked me.

During a long flight you eventually get used to whomever is sitting next to you, where you just co-exist or many times in my case strike up a cordial acquaintanceship with another polite passenger. Sadly, this was not one of those times. 

The kid was a nightmare. During take-off, he was sending text messages, which made me nervous. Who was he contacting? He was rude to the flight crew, demanding his "food" during the beverage service, in which the flight attendant slammed down a packet of ChexMix and said, "Here. Food." And in a total Larry David moment because I just I couldn't resist anymore, I asked him why he insisted on moving his seat, in which he told me to "go make fuck off" and that my French sucks.

Go make fuck off? And it was my second language that was lacking?

You guys, we weren't even halfway over Boston.

I had put off attempting sleep until after our meal came, and struck up conversation with the lovely new mother in front of me whose sweet infant seemed more acclimated to flying than the young guy next to me. Well, our chat was disturbing him, the boy who voluntarily chose to sit next to me.

"Can you please shush up?"
"Why not? I am tired. I don't understand when you speak French."
"T'as pas compris 'non'?"
"No. I didn't understand."
"Mais tu me réponds?"
"Yes, I responds you, but I don't understand when you speak French."
"C'est quoi ce jeu?"
"It is no game. I just don't understand when you speak French."
"Okay. Tu es un petit con."
"You a psychopath."
"This time of the month, yeah, you pretty much summed it up."

My ego doesn't prevent me from switching to English if someone doesn't understand my French, but the fact that he was responding exactly to the words he was so adamant about not understanding just made me push the French even more. I know, how old am I?

Knowing that this was going to be an even longer flight if I continued to stoop down to his level and with my head starting to spin, I leaned back in my chair and took deep breaths in an effort to ignore the reality mere centimeters away from me. Letting my eyes daze off as my head tilted to my left, they were met with a set of eyes weighing heavily upon mine. Jolted, I refocused to find his brother, staring at me with death daggers. Now what was his problem? Not breaking the stare, because you know, I'm a psychopath, I continued the stare down for a solid five minutes before he punctuated his rage by flipping me the finger. In slow motion.

The remainder of the flight was dotted with little messages from them. I woke up to find his dirty food tray and drinks on my tray while he slept somewhat comfortably on his, my blanket was wet, he turned my reading light on to shine on me, and I can't confirm this, but I think he may have put my seat in the upright position. If I was in better form, I totally would have retaliated. I grew up with all boys, so I have been trained by the best to handle these situations, I just didn't have it in me.

Before landing, I felt an aggressive tap on my shoulder, and before I could lift my eye mask to see what he could possibly want, he asked if I had seen his headphones. In an exaggerated display, I lifted my sight-hindering apparatus, and turned to him, "I don't understand when you speak English." As much as I want to say that I I told him to "go make fuck off" because I am more evolved than that, I can't. I simply forgot.

I practically kissed the ground at CDG and couldn't get home sooner to plunge into my bed. Sadly, Paris is a small town. I known will see these brothers again. That, I'm pretty sure about.


  1. Who chooses to sit in the middle seat *ever*? What a dick.

    1. He chose it so he could stretch out onto the vacant seat to his right. It was beyond infuriating, but there was nothing I could do.

  2. Isn't it funny that when you think back on these kinds of episodes, there is always something you wish you had said.

    I had a similar experience a few months ago only thankfully it was a short flight. I remember sitting in the plane and seeing a a couple with two children under the age of five enter. I prayed, "please, please, please, don't let them sit near me." I just wanted a quiet flight so I could snooze a bit and didn't want to be disturbed by the children. Well, or course they sat down right behind us. All I could think was that the children were going to make so much noise.

    Boy, was I ever wrong! The husband, who was in his 30s, just sat there complaining about the plane and everyone on the plane. He did this for the entire flight. Even when the flight was over and everyone was waiting to get off the plane he couldn't stop himself from complaining about the people around him. He didn't shut up even once. By the end of the flight all I could think of was how sorry I felt for his children, who hadn't said a peep the entire flight. I think I would kill myself if I had to listen to him all the time. So sorry you had to put up with such a loser.

    1. Oh God. Quelle horreur! What could there possibly be to complain about after five minutes? A plane is a plane, not much surprise there. Geez, was it his first time flying? I'm so sorry you had to deal with listening to him. I hope you at least had headphones to tune him out!

    2. He just kept repeating the same things over and over again. He didn't complain the entire time, but he gave a running commentary about how the airport personnel were lifting people's suitcases into the hold, how the plane was almost full, how many flight attendants there were and other useless information. Over and over again mixed in with complaints about why such and such a person what doing such and such a thing, using the third person to complain about people right in front of him, etc. He was a nightmare and I felt so badly for his family who just let him talk and didn't say anything. They knew that there was no stopping him.

      I'm looking forward to reading part 2 of your tale!

  3. the worst....I'm still trying to figure out who was sitting where? weren't there 3 seats across? and this bozo sits in the middle with an empty aisle seat? so that he's sitting right beside you? who does that???

    mental cases...

    what is it about flying that brings out the absolute worst in people? no wonder you have a stiff neck.

    1. There were three vacant seats across and he sat in the middle to my right and his brother, across the aisle was to my left. He chose it so he could lean over me to talk to his brother, as well as stretch out on to the vacant seat to his right . Basically robbing my plan.

      Do you remember in the movie Bridesmaids when Helen who was sitting in first class says that there's more of a sense of community in coach? As soon as I heard that line, I was like, there is not! Coach is a jungle. It's premium class that is a community. I always chat with the person sitting next to me, and while yes, there is more room, there is none of this changing seats taking or pillows or disputes. Ever. I just wish I could afford it more often.

      I'm happy to say that I won't be flying for a long time now. Phew.

  4. At least that new mother in front was nice :)

    1. Oh she was great. We unleashed our Long Island accents. It was a special moment.

  5. Oh I always have 20-20 hindsight on things I wish I'd said in these kinds of situations. Shame you didn't have to walk down steps to get off, you could have accidentally tripped him...

    1. I know, right! It's always later that I'm like, oh damn, I should have said that! I ended up getting a little revenge (unknowingly) that I will share in the next post...

  6. After reading the story and constantly cringing I totally understand... Wow I am so sorry- what an unpleasant ride... Well safe travels at least and thank you so very much though for a great story!:) be blessed- darling blog

    1. Hi Care,

      Thank you for commenting! Oy. It was the worst flight I have ever been on, luckily we didn't have turbulence because that would have just been the icing, so I did have safe travels and made it home to Paris in one piece.

      Thank you again for dropping a note. : )

  7. What a heinous little douche!

    Hope you're feeling better now Sweetie! It's good to have you back!:))

    1. Duchesse, it was one of the rare times I was actually seething on a flight. At one point I pleaded with him to go back to his seat. It took me vomiting in a bag (j'étais pas du tout en forme ce soir-là) for him to at least move one seat over. I omitted this from the post for the next one. There is a whole other side story. : )

  8. EEE. That is all I can say. EEEEE.

    I once had a flight crammed next to an ado who used his headset as speakers around his neck while listening to bad rap. I asked him nicely twice to at least put the headphones on...his head!...where they are supposed to go but the third time I just unplugged them and held on to them until the stewardess answered my ring.

    Glad you are Home, Bella.

    1. You unplugged his headphones?!!?! That's hilarious and totally bad ass. I can only imagine what his reaction was and what did the flight attendant say? My mom handles a lot of inter-passenger disputes like this, she's got some great stories.

      Hi Heather!!!! I'm so glad you're on IG now. It's like having Lost in Arles in my pocket!

  9. What the F?! This story is so horrible I cannot tell you how much it makes me want to give you a hug, wrap you in a comfy blanket, sit you down on the couch, make you hot chocolate and turn on the My-So-Called-Life boxset. x.

  10. Le Dique!

    I'm so happy you made it back safely. Enjoy Paris....hopefully it's warmer and dryer than New York!