july 21. passenger 12e

still unaware of what was to come

part one

Part two. Reading my third page entry above, I was still unaware of the psychosis of passenger (I desperately want to say ‘patient’) 12E. And this is not in hindsight, I promise. The moment I got up to let him slide through to his seat, I had a bad feeling about him. No smile, no ‘excuse me’, just an emotionless swipe through the space between my knees and the seat in front of me. A lifeless plunk into his seat followed by (and this is in hindsight-rather hindknowledge) glances over at my children and at my diary. Harmless, I thought. My notebook does tend to attract attention, and not always favorable. As I mentioned in my diary, he was making whistling sounds. Well, they were more like kissy noises, like someone chirping to get a bird’s attention. He’s a nervous flyer, I thought.

When we were airborne he started fidgeting with the tray in front of him: open, close, open, close, open, close, something a child would do until reprimanded by one of his parents. Again, all harmless. But then the food came.

Now, I wouldn’t say that I am a terrified flyer. I am nervous though. So anything out of the ordinary has my heart thumping faster than normal. When this kid (I call him a kid only because he showed me nothing to indicate that he was an adult-he was probably in his mid-twenties) finished his meal-as skinny as he was, he ate everything on his tray quickly and methodically-he took his water and started stabbing through the foil to open it. Once he guzzled the water down, my shitty hour to landing began.

I noticed that he was carving something with the plastic knife. He wasn’t doing it like it was a delicate craft, but very aggressively, kind of like a madman would. Scrape, scrape, scrape, not giving any care to the tray underneath it. At this point I thought that there might have been a connection between the delayed flight (missing passengers a red herring?) and this guy sitting next to me. Why didn’t he scoot to the window seat? Why does he keep lifting his shirt to look at his bare stomach? Why doesn’t he give a damn about the person sitting next to him who may find all of this just a tad questionable?  I couldn’t see what he was carving, it was probably nothing. I noticed from the corner of my eye that he now had a toothpick in his mouth so I thought: he’s fashioned himself a toothpick. He was intermittently pounding his fist on the table, poking between his nails and fingers with the knife or just holding it in stab mode by his right ear (excellent trajectory point from that to my neck, and mind you, I have a horrible aversion to anything touching my neck, tickling my neck, stabbing my neck, or even severing it). His twitches and jabs were just getting more erratic and violent. I felt some relief when the flight attendants came through to pick up the trays. They took his tray but he held on to his knife. And I remained silent.

When I relayed this story to my brother on the way home from the airport, he asked me a question I knew everyone would: why didn’t you tell the flight attendant about it? Well, imagine. I’m at 36,000 feet, this guy is practically on my lap, with a knife-although a plastic one, if swung at the right velocity and trajectory can cause major damage to anyone’s jugular-and my children are just across from me, why would I want to antagonize him any more than he already seems to be? So I did something. I offered him gum. I thought: this is the best way to establish eye-contact and get a glimpse of what he’s up to. He said, ‘No thank you,’ in Kuwaiti English and that was that. I was back at square one.

Thirty minutes to landing the ‘fasten your seatbelt’ signs flashed on. Trays back up. I was still terrified. By this time, my daughter Z and eldest son K noticed that something was wrong with their mom. They also noticed the crazy motherfucker with the knife. K offered to change seats but no mother would have said OK. So I sat quietly for a few more minutes. When previously 12E was stabbing and scratching the upholstery of the chair in front of him with that knife, he was now running it aggressively between the tray frame and the tray itself. SCRATCH SCRATCH SCRATCH SCRATCH ‘What do you thinking you’re doing?!!’ That was me. In Arabic, otherwise there would have been profanities every other word, ‘What are you doing? Why are you doing that, why do you want to damage this plane, 3aib (shame)! This is not your property. And didn’t you think that ANY of your behavior would scare me just a little? I hate flying and to have someone like you behaving that way with a knife is NOT NORMAL! MOO TABEE3Y!’ Really, at that point, I didn’t care where that fucking knife ended up. The guy just looked at me (mind you, the tirade was longer and more convoluted) and said that he didn’t think his actions were doing any damage to the plane. There was a trace of reluctant contrition and a whole load of 3adi (normal/whatever). He put the knife away and a few minutes later picked it up again.

My fear was soon replaced by anger which was replaced by complete hopelessness for this country. This apathetic, charmless, stupid fuck had friends just like him, who would have found nothing wrong with his behavior and might have even championed it. And this kid will breed. He himself is the spawn of two people who probably never wanted children but felt obliged by this demanding society to bear, bear, bear. This fucker sitting next to me, who made me feel the way I did. I wish I could say he was clinically insane. He isn’t. He is ‘normal’. His IQ is probably so low as to deem him stupid but not low enough to have him institutionalized and that is the danger of our youth.

I never want to meet anyone like him again. But I’m afraid I will. He is the future of this country because it is the ones like him who will breed like bunnies while the educated, enlightened few will dwindle in numbers and ultimately die out.

8 Comments on “july 21. passenger 12e”

  1. Okay this is scary, I would have at least tried to change my/and my kids seats instead of bear with this phsyco. It’s quite sad to see how careless some of the kuwaiti youth are.
    I very much like how you put all of this in your drawings, and how it reflects to the viewer. Deep.

    • Imagine having to move four people, three of them children, to another location on a full plane. He should have been moved. But like I said, I was very scared and would have rather waited it out, hoping that most likely it wasn’t going to get worse.

    • Still not nice to be sitting next to someone like that in a plane where as you say all emotions are intensified by the experience of being 36,000 ft in the air

    • See, he didn’t in any other way indicate that he was mentally disabled. Autism is a difficult condition to assess I think, and I don’t think it makes one behave the way he was behaving. As for the OCD, I offered him to do what he was doing using my pen as the knife and book as anything other than what he was damaging. I just went, ‘Here, use this. Rip my book!’

  2. I’m intrigued by your journaling style, Ghadah, each page is a work of art and I enjoy just looking and not even reading the pages. But this piece of non fiction was absolutely riveting! It’s intriguing that you were granted so many gifts…artist, writer, mother, humorist…. I’m very grateful to have you in my life once again!

    • Stacey, you were a brilliant teacher and I’ll tell you why: you made me feel like I was brilliant by enjoying what I wrote, laughing at my jokes and appreciating my crazy drawings. As a child, I felt special in your class. The way you treated me is a model I often use to show my children their worth. Thank you.

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