September 30, 2019
There are two types of people: those who apologise when they cause inconvenience to others and those who don’t. Within this second group, there is a sub-category: those who not only don’t apologise but go on the attack when challenged. Let’s label this subcategory ‘arseholes’.
I met one of these nice types yesterday on the 13-hour flight from Abu Dhabi to Sydney. We were 12 hours into the flight when the one-hour-before-landing queues started forming outside lavatories. The cubicle I was standing outside was occupied when I arrived and stayed occupied for 10 minutes. At the 11-minute mark, I gently turned the handle, code for ‘We know you’re in there but we’re pretending we don’t understand the red occupied sign’. Several minutes passed. I turned the handle again. Nothing.
Several minutes later, the queue had become a crowd that had ballooned out of the aisle and was now taking over the flight attendants’ kitchen area. We were told to disperse. There were only nine oxygen masks in the kitchen zone. Health and safety, etc. The last to arrive were driven back to other queues further down the plane.
Still the toilet door showed no sign of opening. I asked the man beside me if I should knock. He nodded. ‘Go on,’ he says. ‘I would.’
There’s a flush and a few minutes later, a very pretty woman in her twenties bursts out of the toilet and shouts, ‘DID YOU KNOCK?’
I look at the man who is now pretending he’s never spoken to me in his life before admitting with a nod, yes, I did it. That was me. Moi.
She points a finger, teacher-like, before ranting, ‘I have been flying for 11 hours… blah, blah, blah.’ It has actually been over 12 hours at this point but I don’t correct her because in all fairness, she might have entered the cubicle at the 11-hour mark. As she lectures the queue about her right to occupy the lavatory, part of me wants to apologise for inconveniencing her. Hell, it really IS annoying when someone knocks on a toilet door, especially if you’re in the middle of a bikini wax on a long international flight.
Somehow, I manage to suppress the urge to apologise. I tell her that a huge queue had formed. I want to explain that a flight attendant had dispersed a massive crowd, that we were about to be tear-gassed.
The young woman cuts me off with a shout, ‘I don’t care!’
At this point, something inside me, some small defiant grub wriggles to life. ‘I think that’s enough now,’ I say, and gently nudge her aside.
Before entering the cubicle, I turn to the man who is still pretending he doesn’t know me and tell him that I won’t be long.