LET’S ADMIT IT; WE HAVE ALL HAD THIS FANTASY WHEN WE ARE TRAVELLING ON A PLANE SOLO AND SINGLE.
You know the one. Yes that’s right…the one were the handsome stranger has noticed you while boarding; who thinks about you on the flight; who, when you both get off, he approaches you in the terminal as you wait for your bags and he asks you out.
Well, sometimes fantasies can happen…just not always in the way you imagined. And definitely not in a good way.
Having survived off three hours sleep the night before, frustration didn’t even begin to cover my emotions as I sat in the staff stand-by area waiting to get a flight to Sydney. I could hear people around me talk about how full the flights were and that it might be a three hour wait. Great. As I texted back and forth to my friend in Sydney about the delay I overheard the conversation of two older men in the chairs opposite me.
“My wife is six feet under,” I heard one of the grandpas say to the other. “I have no one to answer to – it is great.”
I looked up from my phone, a little shocked at what I heard. I didn’t have time to register whether heartless grandpa saw the look on my face as suddenly my name, with two others, was being called to collect boarding passes for the flight leaving in five minutes to Sydney. With no idea how I managed to gain a seat above actual staff members, I jumped up, grabbed my boarding pass and headed for the gate before they could say they called the wrong name.
As I boarded the plane I could feel a presence directly behind – oh God, it was heartless grandpa. He must have been given one of the other tickets. Thankfully, I dashed down to Economy as he set himself up in Business, but not without overhearing him make some sly comment to the Air Hostess first.
Nap, eat, nap, and before I knew it we were touching down in Sydney.
As I aimlessly wandered through the terminal, following the people in front of me (hoping they were at least paying attention to where they were going) a voice caught me off guard.
“We meet again,” said heartless grandpa. He was standing at the top of the escalator down to the baggage claim.
“Oh, yeah,” I said as I walked passed him and got onto the escalator. He stood on the step behind me.
“Did you enjoy your flight? I see you didn’t take Business, you just like to get there hey? Me, I like to travel in style, everywhere I go. I had some beers up front. Have you tried Five Lashes? Do you like lashes? Or the other kind of lashes…?”
Okaaaaayyyy….the old man reeking off Five Lashes beer and breathing down my neck just mentioned S&M to me. Laugh it off. Just laugh it off, pretend you didn’t really hear.
As we exited off the escalator his banter didn’t end there.
“Our bags are at carousel four. I remember that in case damsels in distress need my help. Not that you’re a damsel in distress.
“No, not at all.” He missed, or didn’t care about, my sarcastic tone as we approached the carousel. Damn-it! No bags! Oh yep, he is going to stand next to me and wait.
As we waited seedy grandpa (I renamed him after the lashes comment) launched into his story: a retired 75 year old pilot who now flies everywhere (business or first only), whose wife passed away five years ago, but not before he had an affair with a Japanese woman who bought him expensive bags, and he was up in Brisbane visiting his lawyer son.
“So do you have a boyfriend?”
Shit, here we go.
“I am seeing someone,” I said.
Please, please no one over hear this!!
“Ah that is a shame, I am going to Austria next month and you could have come with me. Everything paid for; flying first class of course (of course). I saw you earlier before we boarded, I thought, ‘Now there is a classy girl; except for her jeans they need mending!’ But I know that is the fashion now.”
How causally he was saying all this blew my mind; it was all I could do but stand there and politely laugh. I mean, who is going to start yelling fuck off at a 75-year-old in an airport!?
So I stood there as he shot of questions such as why I am in Sydney, how long am I in Sydney, how I am getting from the airport (thankfully he was getting a bus and I was getting a train), until, finally, the bags starting rolling out.
“Oh, there is my fancy bag,” he said with a wink then quickly hurried off to claim it.
I took my opportunity to distance myself and wait at the far end of the carousel for my bag. It worked. He disappeared. Well, that was an interesting start to my Sydney adventure.
After a couple of minutes my own suitcase made its way out; I grabbed it and headed in the direction of the trains.
“Have a good time in Sydney,” yelled out a familiar voice.
I looked up and seedy grandpa was heading towards me from the direction of the bathrooms. Of course he had to go the bathrooms before his trip into the city – HE IS 75!
“Thanks,” I said, too polite for my own good.
“In case it doesn’t work out with the boyfriend he is my card,” he said as he reached into his wallet to actually hand me a card with his contact details on it. “If you need anything at all while you are in Sydney. Or anything, cars, cash, trips, you let me know.”
Without knowing what else to say or do I took the card, but this time I didn’t hide the look of shock on my face.
“Of course, it does mean you will have to put-out.”
And for anyone who saw my face as I turned on my heels and left in disgust, they may have thought I was actually going to vomit.
Because unlike a fantasy, reality has a pretty sick and twisted sense of humour.