Wednesday, May 05, 2010

mister congeniality

The flight from Haneda to Naha is two thirds full, and I find myself in the aisle C seat of a six-across 737, toward the aft. Though I normally like the window seat (easier to sleep), I had been given the aisle and was glad that the center seat, at least, was vacant. I figure that it's only a two-point-five-hour flight, no great hardship. The guy on the window is already seated, clutching a can chu-hi to his chest, which he cracks as we start rolling down the tarmac.

The last few years, I haven't been able to stay awake on airplanes.  I settle in, stow my stuff, snuff my electronics, and fall promptly to sleep.

I wake up a mere few minutes later when my rowmate presses the call button, summoning the flight attendant to our seats. He wants a drink, and after she explains the different options and prices in great detail, he decides on red wine. Drowsily I observe as, a little while later, she comes back with the drink, leaning across me to hand it to him. I doze off again.

Ten or fifteen minutes later, I wake up again. Sumimasen, he says, wanting to squeeze past me to the toilet. I move my knees sideways, into the aisle, and let him pass, then again to let him in when he came back.

Sleepy... ahhhhhhhhhhhhh

He wants a blanket. She goes to retrieve it, putting her boobs in my face as she leans over to give it to him. Is he trying to get a date?

Ten minutes later:

White wine this time.
Drinks up, BATHROOM BREAK. I move, he goes, comes back. I'm rolling my eyes now.


Newspaper. This is a two and a half hour flight, people. The air hostesses are apparently saints. An American stewardess would have kneed him in the nuts by now.


Bottled water. Cold or room temp? Cold. She comes back with it.

BATHROOM BREAK. This time he attempts to speak English to me, though I have given no indication of my nationality or language. I glower at him and he backs off.

Oh god, we're finally landing. In Naha, he gets on the same monorail train as me, and I quickly switch cars. Strangers who ruin my sleep get no mercy.


  1. Wow, that's... i don't know.
    i remember my first flight to Japan, i had the window seat (though i always prefer the aisle), and i was too afraid of disturbing my seat-mates, so i held my full bladder for nearly 8 hours because i didn't want to ask them to move. i've since become more aggressive though; decided i still wanted to have a semi-decent bladder when i get old.

    (also, first comment i believe, so hello! fellow veg-head)

  2. I have NO PROBLEM letting people out to go to the bathroom, if I have the misfortune to be stuck in the aisle. He went to the bathroom three times in a 2.5 hour flight... okay, maybe he has bladder issues, fair enough. If it was just that, I wouldn't think anything of it. That plus five call buttons? Is insane. The only way he gets a pass is if he's a bit special, but I got the impression that he was just a jerky nitwit.

    And hi! I've visited your blogs before. Welcome!

  3. Haa. Classic picture!!

    Selena, i'm dying for some okinawa pictures.

    Also, as usual, I owe you an email.

    Soooon xxxxx

  4. Sarah! I'm working on it! In the meantime, I'm always uploading, sluggishly but steadily, over here:

  5. For me the best place is the aisle seat. Ok - you get the people that are trying to get out all of the time... but as most of my flights to Japan are 9.5 hours long - and no - I don't sleep well on night flights, it's nice to be able to slip out without waking people up.

    I find most people are at least better at pretending to sleep than me on the flight from Australia to Japan.

    Having said that - if I'm going somewhere I haven't been before, I always try to get the window seat (nothing says yokel as much as rubber-necking over people to see a glimpse out the window).

    Good blog btw.

  6. Hi Ben,
    Nice blog! I really like your city, too. Adelaide left a good impression on me.

    I'm the opposite of you - I can't stay awake on flights! The flight to the west coast of the USA is also about 10 hours, so I know what you mean. But again, I totally don't mind letting people out to go to the bathroom, and I think any reasonable person would be fine with it. The guy was clearly a nutter though.

    And I don't think you're a yokel for wanting to look out the window! I've flown probably a hundred times and I would hate to be so jaded that I am unimpressed by flying above the cloud cover, in a way that no human is naturally built to do. That's another reason I prefer window - it sucks to be all the way up there and not get to experience that. :)