by Ifeanyi Dike Jr
I do not converse in transit, period! I am not the sort to do back-stories on an airplane or any kind of travel. However, there are the occasional exceptions for interesting looking people with the promise of a post-transit relationship or at least a facebook friendship. Under no other circumstance do I abide by transit conversations.
They start awkwardly or with an air of calculated effort. Other times, they are forceful even when my face is insisting that I’d rather not. These people start up conversations in tones that suggest acquaintance and ask questions that border on intrusion.
I was hoping that this time, the person seated next to me would not be the sort that spilled over my armrest or made going to the loo worth holding my bladder across the Sahara. Asking a plus-sized person to excuse you more than once would be unfair so you know you had to pick a good time (“a” as in one).
These were my only options for seat partners each time I travelled.
A fairly skinny couple walked to my row and looked at the seat numbers to confirm it was theirs.
Imagine my relief. A couple that had each other to talk to if necessary and the easy multiple accesses to the lavatory. This was to be a peaceful trip.
This was not the case.
I had an hour of grace until Mr and Mrs decided to disturb the peace. They had ordered six miniature bottles (and counting) of Hennessy and downed them in the hour. Of course, this did not concern me, except that the entire row reeked of a mini bar, like a night out in a Lagos club. I hinted disgust with the side of my eye, hoping they’d take notice and stop. Well, they did take notice.
“Medical student yeah?” he asked
“Yes” I replied, with a smile that was more hesitant than courteous.
“I heard you telling the immigration officer. What level?”
I sighed, then turned sideways slowly hoping they’d detect that I’d rather much be watching my movie without occasionally having to pause it.
“I finish next year”
“Impressive” his wife said in a high pitch, followed by a hiccup; a sign that she didn’t have that long to remain sober.
“Do you school here?”
“Here as in where? Aren’t we across the Atlantic?” of course this question did not make it out of my head.
“Igbinedion University, Nigeria” I responded
And that was it. For the next two hours, I was unwillingly engaged in an argument as to how bad the Nigerian education system had become. I could have ignored them, but with the hope that they’d run out, I didn’t.
In hindsight, I should have ignored them.
Don’t we all know that the Nigerian education system sucks? Is this something that we absolutely had to discuss now?
Unfortunately for my nose, the smell of alcohol was now more precise than when we first started the conversation. And even worse was that they didn’t think to offer me some.
Clearly, they started this conversation for the heck of it and expressed no genuine concern for points made- if there were any. Mr. somersaulted to make a complete sentence and Mrs. had passed out. I on the other hand had wasted three irretrievable hours of my life and a movie I would probably never have the time to watch.
Why did I allow myself engage in this senseless banter? Had I not seen this before?
What I had never seen before was people get drunk on a plane. I was stunned to learn that this was even legal.
I would have preferred a seat between a person who spilled over my armrest and another who made a sober conversation rather than beside a drunken talkative couple.
Anyway, it was finally over. The captain announced landing. And because I was retaining my seat on the next flight, I hoped for better seat partners or none at all. Nobody was happier than I was to get off this plane and unto the connecting one. So, before we hit the ground, I already queued up to get a head start on the couple who eventually queued-up three passengers behind me.
Far enough? I guess not.
“Ifeanyi” he called.
Oh, Lord! I’d just brighten up for one last bye.
“Are you going on the connecting flight to London?”
“Yes I am,” I made obvious my smile of relief
“O good then, see you on there. We retained our seats, hope you did yours as well?”