Early morning flight woes!

When the pretty lady asked me if I had a preference for seats, I immediately mentioned 'emergency exit seats, please' , but hastily added, 'only if it doesn't cost extra money'. The joke was lost on her and she told me that while those would, in fact cost extra, she did not have any other non-premium window seats available. I told her I was ok with an aisle seat. She seemed to take it in her stride, smiled sweetly and handed me the boarding pass. The seat was a 31C, which I figured din't sound too bad. 

It was only when I boarded, did I realise that 31C was the last possible row, with only the lavatory and pantry behind me and the whole world (the passengers were my whole world for the next 2.5 hours) ahead of me. An aisle seat just before the lavatory also came with "perks" - I had a ring side view of the myriad emotions that only people waiting in a lavatory queue can emote. Taking an early morning (7:15 AM) flight also meant that I could witness this upto 185 times (for the uninitiated, it was 186 passengers - 1 (thats me, of course)). And as luck would have it, I think I did it about 10 times, even trying to offer adequately sympathetic (I kept the empathy out) expressions to those who were obviously squirming waiting in the queue, before I grossed myself out and decided to focus my attention on the rather thought provoking and infinitely more pleasant in-flight magazine :)

I was now getting used to the rhytmic opening and shutting of the 2 doors (they seemed to be perfectly synced, 1 door every minute or two). While I was thinking there could hardly be anyone in a more precariously pathetic position than I was, I was woken from my reverie (and self-sympathy mode) by the firm tone of the air-hostess (as the female members of the cabin crew were previously called), calling out, "Sir, sir...please press the flush!". The man, who had been caught offguard, sheepishly came back and did as instructed. Off I went, to my reverie, assuming it was a one-off occurence.
I was once again jolted back to reality, and I think I had subconsciously even registered that the door opened without the perfunctory flush noise. The air-hostess was quite business-like in her tone. The friendliness usually associated with her ilk was quite not there. She was calling out after another retreating behind, "Sir, please flush!". It was sharp, precise and clinical, like the needle that draws blood!

By now, every single word in the glossy in-flight magazine had been duly read and stored away in some remote corner of the subconscious, to be drawn upon under life-or-death situations. It was now replaced by an insanely priced menu, which did not fail to emphasize (with 2 prices for every single item on the meager menu) that if you were stupid enough not to realise that you will feel hungry on the flight before the flight took off (in decent terms called "pre-booking you meal"), then your inability to accurately predict your metabolism should be fined Rs 50
However, coming back to the point, the cabin crews regular "Sir/Ma'm, blah blah blah...FLUSH!" added a rather quirky entertainment to my otherwise dull 2.5 hour existence onboard flight "XX-1234 from Bengaluru to Jaipur". While about 5 in 10 would come back and do the deed, there would still be a good 5 out of 10 who would just ignore (I dont buy that they could be hard of hearing, people atleast 20 rows ahead would turn back) and walk on, like they had nothing to do with the sh**.
I counted 15 of these "FLUSH" shouts before zoning out and losing count!
A few occurrences later, the niceties were slowly, but surely wearing off. The tone was bordering on impatience, quite like a mother admonishing a difficult child at the mall, barely concealing her impatience behind a thin veil of forced civility. The assertive was now bordering on aggressive.

And when the plane had landed and was taxiing towards the gate, a few passengers, showing ultimate disregard for the pilots/cabin crews instructions on remaining seated, got up and even started readying for the race to the doors, the dam finally burst! A sharp "SIT DOWN. DO NOT GET UP FROM YOUR SEATS TILL INSTRUCTED TO!!!", stripped of all civility, echoed through the 31 rows. The force threw all the offenders back to their seats as yours truly secretly smirked! The aftermath? The crowd put on their best behaviour as they got off the plane, refusing to look the cabin crew in the eye, even as the cabin crew wished us "Thank you (for helping us vent out???)"

The part about "Look forward to serve you again" was conspicuously missing from their farewell.

On a more serious note: 
I was disappointed (rather than appalled) at the whole incident. Would we leave the toilet unflushed/soiled at home? If not, then what prompts us to forget to do the same when we are outside the house? Shouldn't we be doubly cautious?
And do I find fault with the cabin crew running out of patience? Absolutely not. In fact, I think they did a good job of keeping their temperament in check through most of the flight despite the obvious apathy. I am sure reminding people to "flush" was not on their FAQ's. 


Mridula said...

I have sometimes taken the window seat in the last row as that was the only one available. And for me window matters as I want those pictures. Now you are making me weary of that option. We both hope this will change! Let us see if it does.

Pradeep Roonwal said...

Yeah Mridula, but I am going to be weary of taking morning flights for a long time to come. :)

Anonymous said...

I have always wondered why a lot of people need to be told exactly what they need to do. And despite being told, they would make sure they don't follow it. All the more worrying, since its a frame of mind and not lack of awareness!

- Rakesh

Vijay said...

Pradeep - While a lot of what you say might be true, I have also seen instances of thoughfulness, specially when it involves a child, on flights. But discipline is one virtue that appears missing a lot of times.
Guess we are a bunch of contradictions :D