Soup of the day


Ever wonder about karma and air travel? Once in a while a nasty passenger comes along that gets what he deserves. There is a line between inconvenienced and downright rude.

The following is a perfect example.

He boarded the aircraft with a growl and a snicker. “I hope your airline goes under and everybody suffers in the unemployment line. It’s just another day with this nickel-and-dime operation.”

“Welcome aboard,” I said with a forced smile and a semi-sarcastic tone. He merely grunted back in disgust, threw his bags on the floor, and plopped himself into his first class seat.

“Oh, great,” I said under my breath to a co-worker beside me. “He’s going to be in my section for the next nine hours.”

I looked on this man as my challenge. I was in a great mood. The night before, my wife had told me that she was pregnant and nothing or no one was going to spoil my special news.

He turned away every wine, complaining of the quality. The food was too bland and coffee too cold; the movies were bad, and the flight was too bumpy. You name it, he complained about it. Strangely enough, he only complained to me. It was as if he, too, was involved in a challenge – to break my spirit and turn my good mood sour.

I wasn’t giving in. I just smiled, took in all he spouted, and returned pleasantries. OK, to be honest, I would have loved to lean over and whisper what I really thought of him, but he was a VIP member of our frequent flier program. Plus, I would have lost my personal challenge.

Eight hours into the flight he was still laying it on strong. The second service wasn’t substantial, and our late arrival was going to make him miss his connection. He turned away his coffee and soup, claiming they were ice cold. I heated up his soup and made him a fresh cup of coffee and returned it to him as quickly as I could. No thank you or hint of a smile, just a wave of his hand to send me away.

I returned to the galley when all of a sudden the airplane hit an air pocket. I grabbed onto the nearest handle and spun around in time to see what can only be described as a tidal wave of soup and coffee drench my special passenger. He screamed as it coated his bald head and expensive suit. I came running with linens to assist, but now he was furious.

“You’re happy about this, aren’t you?”

“No, sir, how could you say that?” I replied in my semi-sarcastic tone.

“You knew this would happen! You’ll be hearing from my lawyers!” It was a ridiculous claim, to say the least, but I have heard much worse. Three months later my supervisor called me into his office to discuss the report.

“It says here that you took pleasure in his accident because he was admittedly rude? This is merely a formality, but I do have to ask you, did you?”

“Of course not, that is total lunacy,” I replied. “But could I have a copy of the report for my records?”

I now have the letter framed and hanging in my study. It marks the time when I first heard of my impending fatherhood, my toughest emotional battle with a passenger, and the sweet victory afterwards.

Was I happy about what had happened? Damn straight I was–in fact, I was tickled pink!

They say good things come to those who wait. Well, eight hours was all I had to wait for that one.

My trophy was his letter, and the best part of it was his insistence that he would never fly on our airline again. Thank you, sir, what a good sport, eh? I still wonder to this day if his soup was hot enough.