by Penguin Scott
How could he not be looking out the window? When I was a kid, it was the most awesome thing in the world, to look out the window at the activities on the ramp and to see the planes taxing around. Heck, I still do! I remember how Mom used to walk me onto the plane and make sure I was comfortable and that the flight attendants would look after me. She'd give me a kiss and leave me there in my window seat, and usually in the first row. I was so young- kids today don't fly by themselves as young as I did back then; I was about 5 when I started flying alone. I suspect Mom hesitated just out of sight to make sure I wasn't crying. No time for tears, 'there's a Texas International, oh, and a Braniff, I love those colors! Look at the Southwest 737, I see those flying over our house!' The memories, for me, are still so vivid.
But this kid, not only was he uninterested in the goings on out the window of 2F, he pulled down the shade, stuck a pillow between his head and the wall and closed his eyes. I didn't like this kid. From my jumpseat at door 1L, the best view I had outside was through his window, and he just sat there ignoring it all. The nerve!
Shortly, we'd push back and turn onto the runway, which was just beyond the apron of this small airport. The pilots would rev up the engines to nearly full throttle before releasing the breaks and we'd shoot down the runway and fly into the air at great speeds, and at a greater rate of ascent than normal. This was Orange County and the high fallootin' folks who live near John Wayne Airport worked out a deal where aircraft must follow noise abatement procedures, and are limited to use the airport between 7am and 11pm. After shooting into the air, the plane levels off as it reduces power. Once over the ocean, it resumes a normal climb as it turns to the north or south. I love taking off from this airport, and even though I was unable to see out the windows of first class, I was all smiles.
The kid was like his father, seated next to him, in that he was short and heavy. His glasses were framed in black, where his father wore clear frames. His father was actually the interesting one of the two. He had golden hair, like he wanted it to be blonde, but, well, golden is what we get. His fingers were pudgy and his thumb had a silver ring on it. His watch was large and jewel-encrusted and was framed by two bracelets, big and gaudy. He was dressed in a bright orange shirt about 2 sizes too large and baggy black plaid shorts with large pockets full of electronics. On his feet were colorful sneakers with no shoe laces. It sounds like I could be describing someone in their twenties, but Mr. Jeweled Watch looked like he was pushing 50. This was a man built for comfort, not speed. He obviously had money, but more so than what he had in style.
The man in front of him obviously had money as well. But this man was dressed in a nice button-down shirt with cuff links and read the financial times while his wife, in a tangerine wool jacket, closed her eyes for most of the flight. Mr. Jeweled Watch probably made his money from services, such as from an air conditioning business, or owning a car lot. Mr. Financial Times made his as a CEO or from stocks. It's fun to watch first class passengers and try to imagine their livelihoods.
After leveling off, the boy, of about 8 years of age, gave up his nap and the window shade opened again...too late, kid, now I have to work! I began to take drink orders from the passengers in first class, of which there were 12. When I got to Mr. Jeweled Watch, I was afraid he was going to be stand-offish, maybe even a bit short, or rude. I couldn't have been more wrong. He was quite nice, with his large bag of goldfish crackers, asking for a plastic cup to put some in. He had taken out a DVD player and the boy began watching Sponge Bob. I commented on liking Sponge Bob and he smiled at me politely and went a bit shy. The boy was polite, another sign that as gaudy as he was, Mr. Jeweled Watch was a good father.
It was at this point that Mr. Jeweled Watch pulled out 3 individually wrapped sugar cookies with images of Mickey Mouse in frosting and handed them to me, saying they were for the crew. He apparently had been to Disneyland. I thanked him and later gave him a card of thanks.
During the flight, he and his son laughed together and seemed to really enjoy their time on board. They weren't demanding at all, didn't finish the snack that came with their first class seat, and hardly drank anything. They were delightful passengers and as he walked into the humid Houston jet bridge leaving the plane behind, he shook my hand and thanked me for the great service. The boy smiled and I handed him a pair of plastic wings. His face glowed and he thanked me as he showed his father and walked away. Surely, he didn't get as much excitement from those wings as I did when I got mine as a kid. But it seemed to make him happy, and that's all I hope to do.