“People Watching” is a discipline in its own right an art one might say.
In fact, you could argue that it is indeed educational, providing insight into the behavioural traits of those around you.
Providing you with hours of fun and in some cases total bewilderment, it can also help to fill a void when waiting for flights.
Recently while whiling away a few hours at the airport, I reflected on some of the characters that I had studied during my travels, and came to the conclusion that some passengers can be fitted into 4 main categories.
The Totally Oblivious Passenger
Hello Mr or Mrs “oblivious to everyone around me” passenger.
For starters you board the plane and amble down the aisle at a snails pace. You seem to have lost the ability to count, and hence struggle to match the row seat number on your boarding pass ( if you still have it in your hand ) with the numbers clearly marked above each seat.
Eventually you come to a halt, check your boarding pass, look up at the seat numbers, glance back at your boarding pass and up again at the seat numbers until you are satisfied that you are in the right place.
At this stage there is a queue of people forming behind you waiting to get past.
So what do you do? Do you move aside? Of course not ……..
Slowly you place your hand luggage on the seat, open it up and start rummaging for your book or headphones which are usually at the bottom of the bag. Once located, you place these items on the seat. You then decide to remove your jacket and place it in the overhead locker. You turn your attention back to your bag, which after being zipped up, is placed next to your jacket, length ways of course, taking up most of the available space.
While all this is happening, nobody has room to get past you, but you haven’t noticed.
Slowly and surely, you eventually lower yourself into your seat allowing other boarding passengers to proceed down the aisle.
That is, until a passenger stops alongside you and politely informs you that you are actually sitting in their allocated seat.
Then a new process begins, as you rummage in your pockets for your boarding pass while assuring them that you are definitely in the correct seat. Looking down and pointing at your boarding pass, they kindly and politely (hopefully) point to a seat 2 or 3 rows away. You check a few times, look nonplussed and say “Oh Ok” and so begins a reversal of your previous actions, all carried out at a snails pace whist holding up other passengers for a second time.
And don’t even get me started on what happens when disembarking the plane …….. the SAME thing in reverse!!!!
The Frequent Toilet User Passenger
It always amazes me when I fly, at the number of passengers who don’t seem to realise that there are toilets located at the boarding gate. Yes, you know, toilets to be used just before boarding commences.
Either you haven’t seen these toilets, prominently displayed for all to see, or you have been drinking pints of lager/beer or you have a weak bladder.
Yes, there are always at least three of you, who need to go to the toilet as soon as you board the plane. While the rest of us are finding our seats and settling in for the flight, you are looking for the nearest toilet to christen before the plane door has even been sealed.
Maybe you are checking them out for levels of cleanliness or space, but checking them out you certainly are, as you brush past the flight attendants preparing the plane for take off.
Once the plane is at cruising altitude and the flight attendants begin coming down the aisle with the pre-dinner drinks trolley, you decide to go to the toilet. You don’t wait until the trolley has moved past your seat row, oh no …. you get up regardless and shadow the trolley as it moves along the aisle. Eventually, the stewards/stewardesses pull the trolley to one side and move to let you past.
You gaily go on your way, to enjoy your toilet break. On returning to your seat, you don’t do the sensible thing and go down the adjacent aisle. No, you meet the same trolley being pushed by the same staff, and hover and hover, until, they politely move the trolley once again to allow you past.
Why do you wait until the trolley is in operation? Why not get up way before they even begin their journey?
Similarly, we all know the standard drill when the plane starts its descent, so we go for our final toilet break before then.
Not you though, you wait until the captain has put the seat belt sign on and indicated that the toilets are now out of use to get up from your seat and make your way down the aisle. Granted at this point there are normally a few more of you, hence a small queue forms, while the rest of us are preparing for landing.
Countless polite requests from passing staff, to make your way back to your seat as the seat belt sign has been switched on are met with stony faces and expressions of ” I didn’t hear or understand you”. You continue waiting in the queue regardless, even if there is turbulence!
Persistent Talking Passenger
For starters, there is absolutely nothing wrong with saying hi to the person next to you as you both settle into your seats. Let’s face it, you are sharing a portion of your personal space with this man or woman and could be sitting next to them for up to 12 hours, so there is no getting away from the fact that they are your neighbour.
However, the Persistent Talker goes WAY beyond this friendly introduction.
They want to know why you are travelling to “said” destination, where you will be staying, what you will be doing etc etc. At this juncture they often like to tell you that they have been to 20+ countries and seen everything worth seeing, all in great detail, as you smile back politely.
With the arrival of the in-flight meal and drinks, this appears to give them a new lease of life and the conversation moves up a gear, with the sharing of all their personal details.
I once endured a flight from London to Dubai, sitting next to a man in his early seventies who felt it necessary to tell me his life story. Not the edited version … the WHOLE shebang!!
To cut a long story short, he shared details of his first marriage, the affair his wife had with his friend and business partner, the subsequent breakdown of his relationship with his children and business. He then moved on to how he built up several new business ventures including a property rental portfolio of 100+ houses and brought me fully up to date with the meeting of his second wife.
The lady in question, in her early fifties, was Chinese and from a remote village somewhere north of Bangkok and they had been married a couple of years. He was on his way back to Bangkok, having business meetings along the way. If that wasn’t enough, he even loosely mentioned her initial apprehension of marriage due to their ages and her “needs”. WAY WAY too much information for a complete stranger!! And yes, that was the edited version!
As we were coming into land, the man thanked me for the lovely time he had shared with me, before admitting that he normally flew business class wherever he went, but the flight was fully booked, which was the reason he was in economy!
I have to add that hubby was sitting the other side of me and feigned sleep the whole flight, other than when he was eating or going to the bathroom.
A small delusional part of me secretly hoped that the man, who admittedly was very sweet, would go straight to the airline desk and pay for an upgrade for our return flight as a surprise ……. yeah, I am still waiting for that kind of persistent talking passenger to come along!
Rules Don’t Apply To Me Passenger
I consider myself to be quite a patient person, but this category of passenger really gets me riled.
You seem to think that any verbal instructions given before, during and after the flight concern every other passenger BUT yourself.
When the flight is ready for boarding and the staff announce that boarding will commence in row numbers so wait until your row number is called, you are already up and hovering by the check-in desk as this instruction is obviously meant for everyone else. The fact that you have a seat allocated and that it makes for more efficient boarding to do this means nothing to you.
Once on board, you are glued to either your laptop, tablet or mobile phone. Once instructions are given to turn these devices off and stow electrical items in the overhead locker for take off, you gaily continue to use them until the steward/stewardess politely request you to do so as they are getting into their own seat.
Once at cruising altitude, you continue your “rules don’t apply to me” attitude. You recline your seat while you are eating, you get in and out of your seat by leaning heavily on the headrest of the seat in front of you and you stow your smaller items of hand luggage in the floor space of the seat behind you. Well, it would interfere with your own space to stretch your legs out otherwise!
I once had an ongoing silent tug of war with the man sitting directly in front of me on a long haul overnight flight. He continually pushed his laptop under his seat, whilst I reciprocated by continually pushing it back.
I was too much of a chicken to actually confront him, so as the row behind me was empty, when he pushed the laptop under his seat for the twentieth time, I very kindly continued its journey under my own seat!
Oh, the joy when we landed and he went to retrieve his laptop and found it missing! Pure gold!
And yes, …… I did leave him to find it under the seat 2 rows behind him, after I strolled past him!
I am obviously not implying that all passengers fit into one of these 4 catorgories … well I don’t myself. It is good fun though to “People Watch”, especially if you have time to kill waiting for flights.
How about you? Can you suggest any other Passenger Types in addition to these?
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