My flight from Malta to Naples went via Rome, and the first leg was pleasant, being seated next to a Maltese lady who was a Social Worker and had spent time working in Blacktown, NSW. We talked about all things social work related, and she was keen to learn more about the Lead Tenant house I live in, while I was educated on the rising domestic violence and homelessness situation in Malta. I had free wifi in the airport in Rome (why is it that Melbourne Airport charges for the use of their wifi and no other airport seems to?), yet my flight from Rome to Naples was eyebrow raising to say the least.
The plane was half empty, yet I had a window seat next to two large African women. Their clothes were bright and colourful and their hair piled on their head. I was about to compliment the one next to me on her hair, until she turned away from me and I realised with a shock it was a wig! Upon closer inspection I could see her natural black hair poking out from underneath, and I turned to look out the window to hide my smile. Suddenly I felt a sharp stab in my thigh and when I turned towards her she had a painted fingernail jabbed into my leg. Without another word she then pointed to the in-flight magazine with the word ‘Valencia’ on it and asked ‘Spain?’ I agreed that Valencia was in Spain and she returned to the conversation with her friend. A little puzzled and massaging the area of my leg where she had poked me, I returned to watching the goings on on the tarmac. The men in the rows ahead of me continued to talk loudly in Italian while the weary looking hostess gave the safety demonstration, and I felt sorry for her having to put up with their rudeness. One of my pet hates is people who don’t remove their sunglasses when talking to you indoors, and these guys continued to wear their mirror lenses the whole flight. Luckily they only talked across the aisle between themselves.
As the plane was moving to the runway I realised with horror that the woman next to me was talking on her mobile phone! I looked at her friend who just smiled, and I was shocked that she continued to talk, albeit in hushed tones, for the next few minutes. I don’t think mobile phones can interfere with actual aircraft controls or we’d surely have them confiscated on boarding, however I was stunned at her audacity. Come on lady, there are blanket rules for a reason and it doesn’t take much for you to respect them when necessary. Far out! Thankfully she put the phone away when the plane gathered speed, but I was still shaking my head at her attitude.
Entertaining myself by watching Rome get smaller below us, suddenly her arm snaked across my view and she shut the window blind just ahead of me. What the?! No pardon me, excuse me, do you mind or could you please – just reach out and encroach upon my space a little more why don’t you. I was fuming, however we were seated above the wing and admittedly that window was blindingly bright, so I left the blind down and continued to look out the one slightly behind me. I was in no mood to argue with these two large women who had me boxed into the window seat, nor did I want to deal with a tired and possibly cranky air hostess., but still, a little courtesy would go a long way.
With now only clouds to see I got my netbook out to type and turned it slightly so she couldn’t read what I wrote. Next I know she’s gouging around in her nostril picking her nose. Boy oh boy, the sooner I get off this flight the better. As we were coming to land in Naples she repeated the procedure with the blind, opening it this time and I kept my eyes firmly glued to the window I claimed as mine, effectively blocking her view. Thankfully she wasn’t able to manoeuvre herself well enough to stick her head into my window and I sat looking out the window until we landed.
Interestingly, the stairs we descended were actually the underside of the aircraft tail, and I was intrigued, having never seen stairs that formed a part of the aircraft before. I boarded the waiting shuttle bus at the opposite end to where the women sat, and little did I know that that flight was going to be fairly indicative of my time in Naples and Rome..