I did not get a laptop!
I was one of the first guys to get into the plane and after a brisk walk up the stairs, I settled down in my seat. About five minutes later a young lady came, stood near me and started checking out the bins above. I politely asked if I could help her with the suitcase. Which, she readily agreed to but asked for a couple of minutes to get a few things our of her bag. I waited till she went thru all sorts of stuff and when she was finally done, I put the suitcase up and she settled down in the seat next to me. Well, in British Airways, it is a little funky – next to you means actually you face each other with a rather uncomfortable couple of feet between you. A little weird, if you are strangers. A few pleasantries were exchanged and all was quiet on the upper deck.
A few minutes later came in an elderly couple who gingerly moved from seat to seat looking at seat numbers. Not really having much else to do, I asked them what their seat numbers were. Turned out they were right across the aisle from me. Again, helped them with their suitcases and exchanged pleasantries. The elderly lady was very talkative. She explained that she had never flown business class before and her son had paid for their tickets to go on a cruise from Venice for 19 days. Further, she was very afraid of missing her flight from London because she was told that she had to switch terminals. I checked her boarding pass and explained that I will be going to her terminal too and that my flight was before her flight and that there was no way she was missing her flight. In fact, I went to the extent of promising them that I would accompany them all the way once we reach London.
And with that, I thought, everything was settled. Little did I realize that the fun had just started.
I was deep in my book when I thought I could discern some excitement going on across from me. I lifted my head up and sure enough the old lady was ecstatic as she found out every new feature of the business class seat and started telling her husband about it. Her husband, on the other hand, seemed like he was pretty happy with his lot. He did not need any more features in his seat. He just wanted to sit there and enjoy a glass a wine.
I went back to my book.
And then looked up again because the old lady was really excited. She was almost yelling to her husband by now (remember it was only four of us still upstairs) – “Wow! They give you a laptop in business class. This is how I like to travel. You never took me anywhere like this”. At this point I was more surprised than amused. Then I realized what had happened. But in the meanwhile, the old lady was urging her husband to find his laptop in his seat. Once again, he did not care. A few seconds later, she opened up her laptop, stared at it completely perplexed and then looked at me – “Do you know how I can get the password for this laptop?”
“No, ma’m!”, I replied truthfully.
“How did you start your laptop?”. She asked and then looked all around me to realize that I had none. “You did not get a laptop?”.
“No ma’m!”, again, I said truthfully. But this time I kept smiling at her… It worked!!!
“This is not meant for me, right?”
“I think you might be right, ma’m”.
Around this time, one of the stewardesses came helping a passenger find his seat. As the old lady tried explaining to the stewardess that she found a laptop, I asked them to hold on for a second. Looking to my other side, I gently nudged Lucinda – the young lady.. After apologizing for waking her up, I asked her if she was, by any chance, one laptop short 🙂 A few seconds of blank stares all around later, the problem was solved. Lucinda had kept her bag on the seat while rifling thru it and forgot to put the laptop back. The three of us became great friends thru this. Did I say three? As we clinked our wine glasses the elderly gentleman stood up and clinked too!!
A few minutes later, I was again interrupted. “What now?”, I asked myself as I looked across the aisle. Turns out the elderly gentleman had found out how to raise the privacy screen (the airlines does give one in case you think the couple of feet apart is too uncomfortable for you) and had made the most use of it. His wife was yelling from this side to lower it but he just kept saying he did not know how to do it 🙂
The exasperated wife helplessly looked at me and said “He always messes up things like this at home”. I was so amused by now that I ventured “Ma’m! I am going to go out on a limb and guess you two have been married for a long time?”. “Thirty four years”, she said.
I knowingly nodded. And then putting my finger on my lips – so as to tell her not to make noise, I pointed to the button on my side of the aisle that she needed to press to get the screen down. You could see the glint in her eye as she got the signal and after some fidgeting with her fingers trembling due to the effects of age, managed to get the screen down.
Much to the chagrin of her husband. Who caught me smiling as he glared at me.
I quickly went back to book and casually flipped the page to Chapter 2!!
[At the time of going to press, as I try pulling the blanket over me and go to sleep, I can still hear them bickering. And I think that is in fitness of things. After thirty four years of marriage, you need some friction to keep the spark going in your relationship. By the way, full points for their gracious and grateful son.]