To the little blond kid on Alaska Air Flight #232,

It seems we’ve gotten off on the wrong foot.

I see this as largely your fault, of course. When you saw me quietly sleeping in my chair, you – for reasons that defy logic (Was it curiosity? Thoughtlessness? Demonic possession? I’m leaning towards the latter) – decided to shake the back of my seat vigorously until I woke up.

Now, I’m not one to claim I’m a heavy sleeper. I’ve been woken up by the ticking of a wrist watch before. But kid, I was out. I’d just spent days with my family, who conveniently live under the San Diego airport flight path in an uninsulated bungalow that shakes and trembles every time a plane screeches overhead. Not only will any sleep you get will be in fitful anticipation of the next arrival or departure, but, to add insult to exhaustion, some members of my family wake up at ungodly hours. Kid, did you know there was a 5 am? And that my uncle is almost always awake for it? And, for reasons that escape me, REARRANGING DISHES IN HIS KITCHEN?

Even at your tender age, little blond kid (what are you, eight? nine? At what age are children too old to be considered adorable, but still sticky? Because that’s where you are), I hope you realize how effed up it is for my uncle to be unloading the entirety of his china cabinet before the sun has dared shed light on our corner of the planet.

Between the earth-shaking boom of the planes and the antics of humans under the delusion that they are roosters, by the time Rand and I headed home the day after Thanksgiving, I was knackered.  Exhausted. You can imagine my relief when I found out we were upgraded. Even though we spend roughly 1/3 of all our waking hours in airports, first class is something that eludes us. It is a rare treat when I find that we have plush leather seats and a snack available to us. The second we started to ascend, I was out. Ironic, when you think that this same plane probably woke me up earlier this week.

What’s more, I was having that really good dream I have. The one where I’m at a thrift store, and all the expensive clothes I’ve ever wanted are there, and they’re barely used and super cheap and they’re all in my size! And I get to fill my cart up and the total for all my purchases is something like $15. It’s glorious.

What’s that? NO, it is NOT a stupid dream, KID. And no, it does not suggest that I am materialistic (who the hell taught you that word, but failed to teach you the basics of living in our society? WHO?). It just means that I love a good bargain! It is a wonderful dream, and you woke me from it, just as I was trying on that Madewell jersey blazer that I’ve wanted for months. What’s worse, you did so by shaking my chair like an epileptic in the throes of an orgasm ( … okay, you are far too young for me to have said that. But if your parents let you roam freely around the cabin like an aerial version of Lord of the Flies, I suspect you’ve heard worse.)

Kid, do you know what it is like to be woken up on a plane by being shaken violently? I’m not a nervous flyer, but I was hurled from the golden dew of sleep gasping, convinced that this was, in fact, the end. I was going to die in a hideous plane crash on the day after Thanksgiving, and no one in my family would be able to eat turkey again without weeping (or so I like to think).

Instead, I found, to a mix of relief and annoyance, it was not my imminent doom that woke me, but you. And as I stared at you with bloodshot eyes that sought for an explanation, you merely stared at me, and then proceeded to sneeze in my face before marching up to the front lavatory. You slammed the door shut, did your business, and when you can back down the aisle, you glared at me.

Rand, unaware of what abuses you’d inflicted on me before saw only your face and noted, “Man. That little kid just gave you the look of death.”

Later, when I myself heeded the call of nature, I’d discover that someone had given the bathroom floor a fresh misting of urine. In the interest of fairness, I will allow that it might not have been you, kid. It may have been the gentleman sitting across from me who is at least 50 years of age. But given that he has at least 40 years more experience peeing in toilets than you, I suspect it wasn’t him.

All of that is behind us, now, little blond kid. You returned to your seat one row behind me, next to your exhausted, dozing father. I considered for a brief moment waking him up in the same manner you did to me, but decided to let him sleep. He’s dealt with you every day for the last decade or so, and will deal with you every day for another decade. He needs his rest.

A very cranky Everywhereist (foreground) and the sleeping father of the demon child (background).

-

But while I did not voice my frustration to your father, I still felt it, kid. I was exhausted, yet my body was coursing with the adrenaline that had been released when I thought we were plunging towards the earth (as an aside, having a bunch of adrenaline in a situation like that WOULD HAVE BEEN HELPFUL HOW?). And then something happened, kid, that made me forget all of that.

After we had landed, and we all were waiting to get off the plane, I heard sobbing. I turned around, and saw you wailing – absolutely wailing - while your dad attempted to comfort you. Apparently you had been jabbed in the eye by something (it may have been your little sister, your own fists of which you CLEARLY have no control, or the swift hand of fate. Whatever.) and were in hysterics.

I stared at you, kid, while you sobbed, and I actually felt sorry for your little demonic self. Because no matter how evil we are, how often we shake awake poor, exhausted strangers who have done nothing to us, we’re still human. We’re still squishy and mortal and we need sympathy and love.

Looking at you, kid, I understood this notion. And seeing your exhausted father try to comfort you, I knew that one day you’d understand it, too: that even the most obnoxious of us is fragile and delicate and needs to be hugged and comforted.

So here’s to the less shitty person you will one day be, kid. Until then? Cover your mouth when you sneeze, learn to aim your urine stream, and for the love of all that is holy, don’t wake me up unless the plane is actually crashing.

Actually, you know what? If we are going down, just let me sleep. Thanks.

Sincerely,

The Everywhereist

Full list of categories:  Air Travel » Complaint Letters » Rants and Raves
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Comments (41)

  1. 28. Nov, 2011 / Philip:

    I don’t sleep on planes because I’m too busy making sure my kid stays out of trouble. Mostly she just wants to kick the seat in front of her but I know how irritating that is so I am on her “like Oprah on a baked ham” when we travel. Good to know some sort of karmic retribution got this kid so you didn’t have to shove him in an overhead compartment for the rest of the flight (I swear, no court would convict you).

    Also, I’m pretty sure this is Act I of your as-yet unsold Hallmark Channel movie about the crusty old woman and the obnoxious kid who don’t get along at first but wind up teaching each other valuable lessons about life and, yes, love. You will be played by Ed Asner.

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  2. 28. Nov, 2011 / Gianluca:

    Oh my god… that is horrible. And tragically comic.
    Anyway, this phrase “I’d just spent days with my family, who conveniently live under the San Diego airport flight path in an uninsulated bungalow that shakes and trembles every time a plane screeches overhead” hit me and made laugh so much, also because it reminds me of this phrase by Woody Allen in “Annie Hall”:
    “I swear I was brought up underneath the roller–coaster in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn. Maybe that accounts for my personality, which is a little nervous, I think.”

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  3. 28. Nov, 2011 / Jess:

    I love this post, although from past experience I suspect I wouldn’t have been as forgiving as you… once I was on a flight from Melbourne to LAX and there was a baby in the row in front of me crying for about 6 hours. 6 HOURS! I got up to see why her/his parents weren’t attempting to put this kid out of its misery – I mean to sleep – and they were BOTH blissfully sleeping – dare I say it – like a baby.

    I think I’m going to buy noise cancelling headphones before my next long haul flight.

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  4. 28. Nov, 2011 / Michelle:

    HILARIOUS! I love open letters. I always look forward to your posts…love your writing and am always wondering where you’re going to be next.

    I have to admit, though, that your VERY GRAPHIC cow images have me considering a commitment to veganism. No joke.

    Also loved your post about photographing children. I can’t say I’ve never done it before, but I don’t think I will in the future after reading your post, especially children I don’t know.

    Hope you’re at home safe by now, catching up on that lost sleep in the way that only people without children can…by sleeping until 11:30a or something :)

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  5. 28. Nov, 2011 / Jason:

    As the father of a child that has flown on several occasions, allow me to state that being in charge of a kid on a flight is far more trying than being disturbed by him. You see, we parents have to take those kids HOME. Where they live. With us. A once childless, happy couple that were free to chase our dreams and experience life together.

    That has been boiled down to making sure Jack doesn’t depressurize the cabin when he finds out there are no Curious George cartoons on the flight.

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    Everywhereist Reply:

    Bwah ha ha ha – Okay, fine. In the grand scheme of things, I win. That’s why I let dad sleep, of course. He needed it more than I did. :)

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  6. 28. Nov, 2011 / Robert:

    I. Love. Your writing!

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  7. 28. Nov, 2011 / Gray:

    I’m hesitant to say how hard I laughed at this. I feel your pain, Geraldine, I do! But it’s also really funny. Thanks for the laugh.

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  8. 28. Nov, 2011 / Chris:

    Hi Geraldine!

    Thanks to some folks in the SEO world, I stumbled across this post, which made me immediately wake up my girlfriend to have her read:

    “What’s more, I was having that really good dream I have. The one where I’m at a thrift store, and all the expensive clothes I’ve ever wanted are there, and they’re barely used and super cheap and they’re all in my size! And I get to fill my cart up and the total for all my purchases is something like $15. It’s glorious.”

    This is also a dream of hers. Thanks for making us laugh!

    Chris and Dana

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  9. 28. Nov, 2011 / Scott - Quirky Travel Guy:

    Move that camera over… let’s out the demon child dad!

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  10. 29. Nov, 2011 / Ursa:

    Note: Do not read the Everywherist during university classes – it may cause choking after trying hard not to laugh out loud!

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  11. 29. Nov, 2011 / m.a.:

    Your story is really funny until the impulse to do something about it is stifled. At least you could have taken your assailant’s picture–that WAS a form of assault, wasn’t it? That might have curtailed the tantrum and averted the eye jab or whatever it was–if you really care.

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  12. 29. Nov, 2011 / Stef:

    That’s awful!! I really dislike it when kids kick/shake the seat. That was so sweet of you to let the dad sleep :)

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  13. 29. Nov, 2011 / The Orange Backpack:

    I feel your pain. Although I generally have sympathy for the parents as well this reminded of when I first moved to NYC. This kid kicked my seat through a good part of the flight and then his mother stole my cell phone. Aaaahhhh the big city!

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  14. 30. Nov, 2011 / Debra:

    You have a way of writing that makes me feel like im experiencing it with you. This of course is easy to accopmlish when I have actually experienced it. I had a kicking child behind me while deep into a a movie on my lap top. At first I just leaned forward so I wouldnt feel it as much, but it was as if the child knew and just kicked harder. I was not a patient as you however and turned to the parents and asked them to have her stop. They looked at me as if I had offended them in the greatest way but the kicking had stopped, so I was content.

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  15. 01. Dec, 2011 / catcat:

    Sorry for your crappy flight. I think the two rules of flying with kids are don’t sleep and keep trying. The only thing that keeps most sane co-flyers from flipping out over your children is to see that you’re still trying, even if your changeling has been crying for a ridiculous amount of time, mostly just because they’re miserable and they’re a kid and don’t know how to suck it up yet.

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  16. 02. Dec, 2011 / charlie:

    very funny and well written. Let me flip the coin. My kids were great, however, the abdicating father sitting next to some other little monsters did nothing, making my trip a living hell. Yes i do blame the parent.

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  17. 05. Dec, 2011 / Marissa:

    Kylisa gave me the best thoughts on this subject. As a mom of three rambunctious boys, she and Chris will introduce themselves to the people around their seats; apologize in advance for any bumps, kicks or tantrums; let folks know that as parents, they’re doing their best to keep the kids quiet; and OFFER TO BUY ANYONE A DRINK.

    I love Chris and Kylisa! Brilliant! Genius! Something I will take to heart as the mom of (soon to be) two rambunctious boys myself ;)

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    Everywhereist Reply:

    They are supremely awesome people and awesome parents. :) As are you, soon-to-be mom of two!

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  18. 05. Dec, 2011 / Ken:

    I had this little demon’s cousin sitting three rows behind me on a recent flight from Miami and the little charmer let out screams about every five minutes for almost two hours. In spite of the Jet Blue plane being pretty noisy and having ear phones on, it sounnded as if someone was driving splinters under his nails. Unfortunately, that was not the case. His sister appeared to be embarrased and his parents certainly deserve the little creep. All flights should be stocked with duct tape and the plane crew should be authorized to tape a kid’s mouth shut. At least twenty rows of folks were made miserable by the little twit. This is one child that I don’t feel bad for given the huge debt he will have to pay back to China so we can live it up.

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  19. 08. Dec, 2011 / Priscilla:

    Hilarious post! I think we all have had an experience like this and wish we could exact revenge, but never do. I am glad I stumbled upon this site.
    Cheers,
    Priscilla

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  20. 09. Dec, 2011 / Steven:

    sounds like you need a private jet – not first post you’ve written complaining about being woken up on a flight

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  21. 09. Dec, 2011 / Keith:

    You could have just posted that picture of you after the first sentence of this post, your face says a thousand words lol.

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  22. 15. Dec, 2011 / Julie:

    You crack me up! :) Love your writing. It reminded me of flying with my children when they were toddlers. I’d tell them before boarding “do NOT kick the seats, grab top of seat with your hands or scream or you’ll be sorry when we land.” Putting the fear of God in them usually worked. I don’t understand as a parent why other parents allow their children to do these things. HELLO! I once sat in a seat that had three small children behind me while their parents sat together behind them. Not a fun flight to say the least. By the way, I lived in San Diego near airport and relate.

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  23. 01. Jan, 2012 / Bret @ Green Global Travel:

    OMG, this is one of my biggest travel pet peeves: People who can’t control their kids. For god’s sake, man, give the hellion some Benadryl so he’ll be conked out as God intended! Mary and I had this trio of rowdy tykes behind us on our flight from Hawaii to Atlanta who were kicking the back of her seat, shouting, fighting… you name it. Drove me insane, and her to tears.

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  24. 02. Jan, 2012 / The Kid Behind You:

    To the lady snoring very loudly from the seat in front of me — wake the fuck up! I sympathize with your desperation; however, my ears are young and vibrant, in which the hideous sound or your rattling breath is torturous beyond compare. Is it too much to ask that you refrain from sleep for a couple hours or at least have the decency to wear a breathe-right strip?

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    Everywhereist Reply:

    Oh, please. There’s no way you could have heard me over the sound of your father’s weeping.

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  25. 03. Jan, 2012 / Tom Bartel:

    I’m of the opinion that flight attendants should be empowered to hold a pillow over a screaming kid’s face until he stops kicking. Oh, I forgot. They don’t have pillows on planes any more. Anyone for strangling them with a seat belt extender?

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    A Reply:

    You are awful too.

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  26. 05. Jan, 2012 / Lisa Wood:

    Oh my gosh that was funny, that was so sad and so real! I love how he did all of that and you still had kind feelings for him.
    How did you not say anything to his Dad? Gosh I am not so sure that I would have been so kind!

    Maybe one day he will look back on what he did and realise…probably when he is a Dad!

    Cheers
    Lisa

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  27. 11. Jan, 2012 / Kathy:

    Thanks for the laugh. I really needed it this morning after a guest’s horrid little blond boy took “nutella” in bed with him.

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    Everywhereist Reply:

    Please, PLEASE tell me that if I click on your blog, Kathy, I will find that the story about nutella. Please.

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    Kathy Reply:

    Sorry, I don’t have a blog as I am not very good at writing, also can you imagine my guests??????? Privacy is very important( I could write under a psuedo).
    I got up at 5am as usual to start baking for breakfast and heard noises coming from the dining room, little angle face had opened everything he could get his hands on…..tea,coffee, bisciuts, jam portions etc I told him to go back to his room (he shared it with his brother) later when the maid was cleaning the room she found the sheets full of nutella and a piece of wire tied to the head board??????????? (wonder if his parents tied him up!!) Not knowing what had happened earlier she thought it was ….. Funny enough they were from Finland too!!!
    I love reading your articles

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  28. 03. Feb, 2012 / A:

    You are an awful person.

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  29. 03. Feb, 2012 / Lola:

    I stumbled here via this blog post you wrote via Jane Devin on FB. Ahhhh the powers of that social media!
    Anyways, you are frickin’ funny and so here I am-a new and vocal stalker!

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  30. 03. Feb, 2012 / Christy:

    Ha! This is exactly what I have always wanted to say to those seat-shaking children behind me, except your version is much funnier. It really is an awful thing to endure during a flight. I guess it could be worse though, right?

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  31. 24. Jun, 2012 / HayLaura:

    You are an Angel. I don’t think I would have been so nice. I am pretty sure I would have woken up his father and told him to watch his child or handcuff him to his seat. I would have told him exactly what he did to wake me up while his little monster let him sleep and then after scaring the crap out of me, his cute little boy went into the bathroom and peed all over the floor. Of course you are nicer than me, but I would have had a harder time not smiling really big when this kid later was sobbing for some reason you aren’t really sure of, but I would have said out loud ” Karma little boy, Karma ” but that’s just me. LOL This is the first time I have read your postings and I didn’t find this story funny at all, I found it sad that we have so many kids who aren’t taught manners or respect. grrrrrr Thanks for sharing. :)

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  32. 16. Aug, 2012 / Awais:

    You are an Angel. I don’t think I would have been so nice. I am pretty sure I would have woken up his father and told him to watch his child or handcuff him to his seat. I would have told him exactly what he did to wake me up while his little monster let him sleep and then after scaring the crap out of me, his cute little boy went into the bathroom and peed all over the floor. Of course you are nicer than me, but I would have had a harder time not smiling really big when this kid later was sobbing for some reason you aren’t really sure of, but I would have said out loud ” Karma little boy, Karma ” but that’s just me. LOL This is the first time I have read your postings and I didn’t find this story funny at all, I found it sad that we have so many kids who aren’t taught manners or respect. grrrrrr Thanks for sharing :P

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  33. 13. Sep, 2012 / iheartkoreanbeauty:

    Love this letter :) Don’t get me started on the screaming kid (4 hours non-stop!) on my last flight!! :)

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  34. 27. Nov, 2013 / Maria:

    I too always have crying kids or young girls and teens with restless legs syndrome in the seat behind me! Always! I’m glad I’m not the only one.

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  35. 14. Mar, 2014 / Liz:

    OK, so I’m looking for travel-with-children tips and stumble upon this post. Needless to say it does not instill me with confidence in the face of the 10-hour flight to Mexico my husband and I will soon be taking with our supremely bright but frankly very loud children of 8, 5 and 2. (Not to mention the rest of our four month-long trip around Central America) I keep trying to explain to my eldest the feelings that high-pitched screaming in an enclosed space can have, while subtly dropping in stories of air rage, but he’s just not getting it. So what do I do? Is there a world record for the longest game of I-spy? Do I just drug them? Can I even ask that? Or shall I just pretend to be asleep to avoid the inevitable cringing and embarrassment?

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