Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Old Russian Lady In Seat 3F

I hauled myself to JFK for an 8:30 AM flight to Denver today. As I boarded the plane, I eyed my overhead storage for my carry-on. Nice and empty. Just as I was feeling all spacious, this incredibly old woman stopped in front of me and folded her jacket, put it in the empty overhead storage, and started to close it.

I held it open because I was about to put my bag in it. She again tried to close it. I said "Don't close it, it's got plenty of space. She unreeled a bony finger and pointed at the numbers underneath it. "For Row 3" she scowled, and tried to close it again, ignoring that there were three seats in Row 3, and Row 2 was also listed underneath the bin. "Yes, and I'm in Row 3," I replied. I kept it open and put my bag in.

I had seat 3D. The lady plopped her bags in 3E and started to make herself comfortable in 3D, the aisle seat. I looked down at her, a 5 foot drop from eye level, and said "I'm sorry, but I'm in Seat 3D."

She looked at me, and started to point at her leg and saying something about Row 3 in a thick Russian accent. I repeated "I'm sorry, but that's my seat. I have the aisle seat." The flight attendant asked if we needed any help getting seated, and I said "No, I'm about to take my seat as soon as this lady moves to hers." She grumbled something in Russian and moved to the window seat.

The plane took off, everything seemed fine. Drinks service started. The flight attendant came by and asked what everyone wanted.

Attendant: "Drink?"
Putin's grandma: "Please."
Attendant: "What would you like?"
Putin's grandma: "Soda."
So, no progress there on the negotiations. She got her soda, and took out a bag of Russian chips. She was enjoying what was either a bag of Russian Beggin' Strips or a package of Бекон-flavored crisps when the snack basket came by. The attendant held out the basket for her. She took ten or twenty minutes to touch every one of the snacks, before deciding on some cookies. While taking them, she knocked a bag of almonds on the floor, looked at them, looked at me, then pointed her sharp digit at me and then down to the floor, telling me to pick them up. I grabbed them and gave them back to the attendant.

As we entered Kansas airspace, the attendant came by with tiny bottles of water. I took one, but Putin's grandma was so engrossed with watching ESPN News highlights without headphones that she didn't take any. A few moments later, she started gesturing at me. She pointed at my water, then herself, then made a drinking motion. Was she asking for mine?

I said "What are you asking for? Are you asking for my water?" She looked at me expectantly for a moment, then her face twisted into one of pure, unalloyed disgust, and she waved me away with her claws, obviously exasperated that mine had not become hers.

This courtship continued until we touched down. As the wheels hit Colorado ground, she picked her bags up, unstrapped and started to move towards the aisle as the plane was taxiing at 120 MPH. I looked over to figure out what the hell she was doing, and she slumped back in her seat and restrapped.

Finally, we came to the gate, and as I got up I actually turned my back to her so that she wouldn't a) try to tell me to do something through interpretive handwaving or b) shove past me only to slow down the entire line with her prescriptive Crocs.

Suddenly I felt the icy hand of death on my shoulder. She pushed down on my shoulder for leverage and to try to move me so that she could grab her jacket out of overhead before anyone could steal it from her. As I waited for the first two rows to exit, she stood so close to me that I could feel her scant remaining body heat within a millimeter of my shoulders. And then, as quickly as it began, our flirtation was finally over.


Parul said...

OMG! YOu are too funny!

Kern said...

In Russia the babushkas flirt YOU.

Peter said...

When she put her hand on your shoulder, did she whisper "thinner" into your ear? 'Cause if she did, I forsee a trip to Popeye's in your future!