Lost in Translation

3 Dec

When it comes to sleeping on a plane there are many ways to go about it. If you know that it is going to be a long trip you pack a travel pillow, eye mask, and something to keep you warm. Sure there are pillows on the plane and a tissue paper blanket, but for many this is not enough. You might luck out and end up next to the window, which is a double edge sword – you have something to lean against when you are tired, but if you have to go pee you must squeeze by your neighbors, stepping over them flashing your butt or breasts in their face. If you end up in the aisle seat you can stretch your legs out. But if the travel Gods are looking out for you, you end up with the WHOLE ROW TO YOURSELF.

On my trip to Vietnam I thought I hit the jackpot of all long flights, a row to myself. It was perfect for my red-eye flight to Taiwan. I thought, “16 hours of pure restful bliss!” That was until the stewardess walked over and asked if anyone was sitting next to me. Note to self: this is a bad sign. My assigned seat was next to the window, leaving the aisle and middle seat empty. The next thing I know “Grandma” is being escorted to sit next to me. “No problem,” I think. “This leaves the middle seat clear for me to kick up my feet and read a book.” Grandma seemed to have other plans.

Before I preview what those plans were I first must describe Grandma. In typical Grandmotherly fashion, she was older, sweet looking, with a bag full of random items. The stewardesses and I had no idea what her bag of tricks would have in store for us for the next 16 hours. The first item to come out the bag was a packet of Top Ramen, which she showed to every steward who walked by, asking for some assistance to make it. This I might point out was just before the first drink service of the evening. Each stewardess kindly told her she had to wait and that there was no way to make this soup, adding she was going to get food soon. Grandma did not speak English, so it was up to the few who could translate, many just patted her shoulder and walked away. Finally one gave in, arriving with a tray and a bowl from first class and made her Top Ramen. Grandma was happy, until everyone else got their meals served 10 minutes later.

She wanted one too! How can you tell her no, it’s Grandma. The stewardesses gave in, obliging to her needs. At this point I had no problem with Grandma, we nodded to each other, smiled, and got along just fine. Until ….. I hit my breaking point and needed to go to sleep. Well, so did Grandma. I pulled my blanket on me, leaned up against the window, and popped a sleeping pill. I must have crashed pretty quickly, but I woke up abruptly to Grandma’s head in my lap. She had done what I had planned to before her arrival, sprawled out across the seats using my lap as her pillow.

Have you ever had an old person just lie down in your lap? What is the proper procedure for telling them that it is not okay? How do you do it when they don’t speak English?

I tapped her shoulder, looking down at her and shook my head. Grandma just looked up at me and smiled, and then rolled over and closed her eyes! WTF. I just had to do it, I hit the call button and told the stewardess (the only one who would come over because Grandma had bugged them so much at this point that they were ignoring her) and spoke up. “Can you tell her she can lie down, just not in my lap.”

The message was delivered, resulting in Grandma giving me the evil eye. Great! I am pinned by the window and going pee is going to be a field trip into a minefield. I closed my eyes and went to bed, hoping that I would not have to use the facilities in the next 10 hours. I went to sleep with Grandma staring me down.

Four hours later, I had to pee. Grandma was sound asleep, I tapped her shoulder, motioned toward the bathroom, and stepped over her as she stared me down. After relieving myself Grandma seemed to need to get up also. She struggled a little bit, trying to pull herself up with the help of the chair in front of her (and the head of the person seating in it). I reached down and helped Grandma up, placing my hand under her arms and lifting with my knees. She smiled and patted my shoulder! I had redeemed myself. The lap incident was water under the bridge.


One Response to “Lost in Translation”

  1. Karen Cahill December 18, 2009 at 5:53 am #

    love this story

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: