So E___ and I are on our way back from Iceland (more on that later). The two of us are sitting way back in the very last row of the plane, minding our own business--i.e. watching bad movies on those little headrest screens--when suddenly a stewardess appears beside us, bends down, and fumbles around in the seat pocket of the empty seat between us. She retrieves a flat brownish-looking paper and, with a nod of apology and a few quick words, retreats. Both of us have our headphones in, so we look questioningly at one another, neither having heard. I shrug and then go back to watching The Wolverine. E___ roots around in her seat pocket until she identifies the same brown item. Turning to me, she mouths, "Barf bag."
Not more than a few moments later, two blond stewardesses come lurching down the aisle, supporting a thin young man who is literally covered in gray Icelandair blankets. They settle him in the seat across from us, at which point I get a better view and determine that he must be the one they needed the extra barf bag for. He looks pale, and his mouth is drawn in that stubborn way that says, "God I feel awful, but I will not be sick again." I quickly offer up a little prayer that if he is sick, he gets all of the barf into its designated bag.
Mystery solved, I go back to my movie, content to mind my own business . . . until another stewardess arrives with an oxygen tank in tow. Now I can't help but openly stare as they all attempt to maneuver the clearly heavy canister so that the tubes connecting it to a scrunched-up cellophane mask will reach his face. I've never seen anyone this sick on public transportation before. What is wrong with him? Are they just being over-cautious because he vomited a lot?
I'm in the middle of trying-not-to-stare-but-staring-anyway when an older woman--probably 70 or so--comes up the aisle and taps one of the stewardesses on her shoulder.
At this point I take my earphones out.
"Excuse me, I need your attention." The woman persists until the stewardess stops helping the sick man and turns around.
"Yes? Do you need something?"
"Yes, I do. I need some water."
The stewardess turns, presumably to fetch a bottle of water from the back of the plane, but the woman isn't finished. She pushes right past the other two stewardesses attempting to oxygenate the sick man and encroaches on the first stewardess, who had only made it as far as the restrooms.
"I watched you walk up and down that aisle a number of times, and never once did you ask me if I needed anything."
I can't quite make out what the stewardess replies, but it probably should have been something like, "I was running up and down the aisle trying to make sure this gentleman here doesn't die. My apologies for not heeding the ESP signals you were sending."
Regardless of what the stewardess's response was, the elderly woman persists with her complaint. "No, you should have stopped and asked if anyone needed anything. It's your job to make sure everyone is comfortable on this flight, and not once was I asked whether I needed anything."
If I were a different person, I might have leaned over and said, "Look, lady, that guy right next to you is basically dying, so back down," or, "Have you ever heard of a call button?" or, "Next time bring your own damn bottle of water." But of course, I don't. Instead, I re-insert my earphones and lean back to watch Wolverine get filled with adamantium. Good thing we don't all have rage-induced claws.