Desi Anwar: The Beer Monster
I’ve discovered that even more annoying than getting bad service from flight attendants is sitting next to a person who is rude to the crew.
The other day I was in that situation, and it was like being stuck in a farce where I was partly the reluctant audience and partly the unwilling commentator on the unfolding buffoonery. It was an experience that makes one lose faith in human nature.
We were in the business-class section of a certain national airline and my fellow passenger was an aging, burly Caucasian chap with tattoos on his arm and as much prepossession as a jailbird on the lam. I hesitate to describe him, because there really is no excuse for rudeness whatever you look like or wherever you come from.
As the plane was waiting to take off, a flight attendant came by with a tray and offered passengers fruit juices. For the next hour and a half I was subjected to observations on the merit of the airline’s refreshment that went something like the following:
Passenger: “I want beer.” There was no beer on the tray, only fruit juices. The stewardess, with lots of passengers to serve, asked him to wait. She finished her round and went back to the galley.
Impatient passenger: “Do I get my beer today or do I need to wait until tomorrow?” The stewardess was somewhat flustered and apologetic. The plane was taxiing by this time. I looked at him askance. Couldn’t he wait until the plane was in the sky before ordering beer and make do with a glass of juice? The attendant came with a can of beer and a glass.
Irritated passenger: “It’s not cold. Why is the beer not cold? What kind of service is this? I want cold beer.” More apologies from the attendants. The cans hadn’t been in the fridge on the plane long enough. The plane readied itself for take off. The man insisted on holding his glass of warm beer. I was beginning to dislike my fellow passenger.
When the seat belt sign was switched off, he asked for another can of beer. Then the food trolley came. The choices were smoked salmon with aragula salad, a tuna pastry or cold cut chicken.
Hungry, impatient and irritated passenger: “What’s this rubbish? Where’s the hot food?” The attendant explained that it was not dinner time yet.
Rude passenger: “This is rubbish. What you have here is rubbish. I’m not eating this rubbish.” He picked a tuna pastry. “Bread rolls?” the attendant offered, still with a smile. Very rude passenger: “Were they baked yesterday or last week?” The attendant looked confused and couldn’t understand why he was so angry.
He proceeded to attack his food with gusto, while uttering foul expletives about the rubbish food he was eating. The attendants were too nice, I thought. Anywhere else in the world, especially on airlines where you’d be lucky to get a smile from the flight attendant, he would be arrested for verbal assault.
“This is the worst food I’ve ever tasted on a plane,” he repeated, as the attendant cleared his empty dish, “It’s rubbish. I’m eating rubbish. I want another beer.” The attendant looked distressed. I gave her a sympathetic smile. “The salmon was delicious,” I said, hopefully loud enough for him to hear. I mentally noted how many cans he’d downed.
He went to the toilet. The attendants whispered in distressed voices behind the curtains. “Maybe his wife just left him,” I said.
When he came back, his mood had improved. He even asked for more food. This time he opted for the salmon dish. Plus the bread roll. And another can of beer. It was cold. Perhaps that was the root of the problem. Warm beer turned him into The Hulk.
By the time we were making our descent, he was calling the flight attendants “dearie” and gave the purser boisterous high fives. He was onto his seventh can. When the plane landed he was still clutching his beer. It jogged about in the glass. Inwardly I hoped it would spill all over his knee-length cargo shorts.
As the plane taxied, he pushed his seat back and stretched out, belching and closing his eyes, the empty beer glass by his side, hands on his belly. He seemed contented. I was ready to strangle him.
Desi Anwar is a senior anchor at Metro TV. She can be contacted at desianwar.com and dailyavocado.net.