Nine days in the peace and quiet of Easter Island had me completely spoiled. David and I got up at 5am and caught our 5 hour flight back to Santiago, Chili. We had a 7 hour layover before we boarded our flight for Miami. A 7 hour layover may seem horrible to some people but for David and I, who had just been seen sprinting through JFK airport in September dragging David’s poor elderly parents behind us just to get to the international terminal nano-seconds after our flight had called final boarding, we were pleased as punch to stroll leisurely to our gate, grab a bite to eat and wait patiently for our flight.
David and I found a quiet place with a three-prong plug where we could see a TV set, plug in our computers and settle in to wait for our flight. Every so often the muffled sounds of the airport were pierced by a glass shattering shriek of a young child. It was not nice but I found some kind of strange comfort in the fact that this was not my child and therefore was not my problem. At one point I made my way to the ladies room and passed directly within ear splitting distance of what I had quickly nicknamed in my mind “the shrieker.” All this time I had assumed she was voicing her displeasure at her parents for trying to corral her in the seating area while they waited for their flight. I was shocked when I walked by and saw that this little one was “playing” in a children’s play area and sounding off every time another child came anywhere near the apparatus she was on at the moment. I looked around casually to see if I could tell by the mortified look on their faces which one of the grown adults surrounding the play area were her parents. Not one person looked mortified. In fact, not one person looked the least bit interested that everyone in a 50 yard radius of this child was going to end up a prime candidate for a hearing aid.
Finally our 7 hours in exile were over and our flight was preparing to board. I made out the Spanish announcement for pre-boarding for families with small children. Just out of curiosity, I turned to look at the line forming at our gate. There was a huge line forming. It appeared that half of our flight was going to be full of weary-looking parents with surly-looking children. And as fate would have it, sure enough about half way up the line, there was “the shrieker.”
As we boarded the plane, I hoped the travel devils had not put our predetermined seats next to “the shrieker.” I know it’s not nice but I have raised three children, wrestled them on and off of airplanes, chased them through various tourist destinations, held them hostage in my car for hours upon hours to get to Grandma’s house. I don’t think it’s too much to ask not to want to sit next to a child who can produce a shriek that can break glass for eight hours while her parents put on their headsets and pretend like the child is an angel. When we boarded the plane I was thrilled to see that our seats were in the row behind a family travelling with several teenaged kids.
Now, if you know me, you know that I believe fully in karma. Whatever you throw out into the universe will come back to you tenfold. So it didn’t really surprise me that I was immediately rewarded for my selfish and uncharitable disposition toward “the shrieker.” We had not even settled into our seats before the young teenage girl in front of me began bouncing in her seat. Every time she shifted position or leaned forward to talk to her sibs she banged down into her seat with the force of a rhino sending everything on my tray table careening about the cabin. When dinner was served I ate with one hand and kept the other firmly on my tray so that I didn’t end up wearing my chicken and rice all the way home. When my Heineken came, I was not about to put that puppy on the tray table. I kept it safely in my hand as far away from the tray table and its swaying cup holder as possible. Once our meal was finished I pulled out my computer and thought I would sketch out a few blogs. Just as I put my hands on the keyboard, the teenager in front of me jumped up, slammed down into her seat and pushed the shiny chrome button sending her seat back to the fully reclined position. I was effectively trapped with my elbows shoved into the seat behind me with my computer wedged into the narrow space in front of me threatening to rupture my spleen should we hit any sudden turbulence.
Moral to the story, be careful what you gripe about. You could move from a shrieker to a bouncer!