I am looking for strange here, not just your everyday, run-of-the-mill problem passenger.
Bonus points may be awarded for creepy whack-jobs.
If you have ever flown on an airline flight, you certainly have your own plethora of passenger pet-peeves, but tales of the truly strange travelers tend to be a bit rarer.
The text I received from one of my daughters last Friday evening, as she sat on a Southwest Airlines flight headed for LAX, was clearly in the category of the latter.
Here is the message I received, quoted exactly as texted,
“Fuck. Hammered dogshit/crazy/homeless guy on the plane. Yay.”
Knowing my daughter, I can guarantee that the closing “Yay” was dripping in sarcasm.
And, to add color to her description of “That Guy,” she followed a minute later with,
Now, my daughter is as open-minded as they come. Her favorite TV personality may well be Rachel Maddow.
This is not to imply that Maddow is dogshit crazy, homeless, a guy, or a cross-dresser.
(I cannot speak to the “hammered” aspect, as Maddow has a self-professed affinity for alcoholic cocktails.)
And, not that there is anything wrong with any of that stuff, except when confronted in combination while onboard your flight.
But the fact is, that since 9-11 many of us have taken, whether consciously or unconsciously, to our own brand of profiling of our fellow passengers.
Like you, I sure hope that TSA is doing their job well and that those full body scans, or alternatively, those intimate body rub-down groping sessions—where sometimes one pair of thin gloves might just not be enough—do, in fact, offer a high level of security, so that That Guy won’t try to ignite his underwear, shoes, or any other items of clothing.
My daughter’s first sight of That Guy was pre-flight, near the boarding gate, where three or four law enforcement personnel stood with arms crossed, and legs spread in a clear, “We have our eyes on you, creep, and don’t even think about not getting on that plane,” look.
This is about the time where we start whispering to ourselves,
“Please don’t be on my flight. Please don’t be on my flight.”
Well, he was.
Due to the very few passengers on this flight—which is a rarity, indeed, anymore—That Guy ended up with an entire row, all to himself.
There he sat, all un-washed, with straggly long hair, and barefoot, and proceeded to unpack his worldly possessions by laying various articles of clothing over the seatbacks in front of him, and placing a foot-tall statute of a lighthouse next to himself.
In addition to That Guy’s outward appearances, he exhibited Tourette’s–like symptoms by pumping his fist skyward while making unintelligible exclamations of some sort.
Just the thing you want prior to taxi and take-off.
It wasn’t long before the flight attendants were huddled up in the front of the cabin, undoubtedly drawing straws to see who would get to deal with That Guy, and request that he pack up his impromptu mini-homeless encampment there on Aisle 6.
By the time the plane had landed in LAX, That Guy that pretty much re-unpacked, with much of his stuff strewn on the seatbacks in front of him, on the adjacent seats, and on the seatback trays.
Needless to say, by that time, my daughter was quickly disembarking the cabin area and almost ran out of the airport and to the relative safety of the streets of Los Angeles.
I began this post by mentioning those pesky passengers that may, or may not, be particularly annoying, while not necessarily batshit crazy. Websites abound that list examples of “those passengers” that we love to hate.
My personal short list would certainly include:
Overly loud, obnoxious ones that are really drunk—or make me wish I was, so I could at least ignore them.
People who refuse to end cell phone calls and turn off their phones as instructed to do so.
“Hey, jack, I’d rather not crash, so please stop sweet-talking your secretary and hang the hell up.”
The clueless clowns who somehow get by the gate attendant with two large suitcases, an overly-stuffed “personal bag,” and their purse or backpack, then proceed to stand in the aisle—grunting to stuff their steamer trunk into the overhead bin, but only after opening it up to get out a book or magazine buried somewhere in the bottom.
Did I mention they are also the ones who think nothing of cramming your stuff into a corner so they can carefully lay out their coat?
Back to That Guy on that particular flight from Sacramento to L.A.
My daughter conjectured that someone might have wanted That Guy gone and simply handed him the airline ticket to facilitate his departure.
I have an alternate theory, unbridled with facts of any nature.
(I am currently in love with the expression, “Often wrong, but never in doubt.”)
To the consternation of local residents and officials, Forbes Magazine recently rated Sacramento as the fifth most miserable city in the country.
I wonder if maybe That Guy was just trying to better his socioeconomic standing by getting out of Dodge while the getting was not any worse, like being third or fourth on the Forbes list.
I’m just saying.
The floor is now open to your entries in the Strangest Airline Passengers Ever Contest.