Up In The Air

I was dreading our final flight of three this year, which was the Tokyo to Bangkok leg.  For the first time in my professional traveling career, I failed to secure a window or aisle seat.  Katherine and I had no choice but to be sandwiched in the middle aisle of a 2-5-2 configuration.  The whole flight I was asking myself, why not a 3-3-3?  Who the hell thought a 2-5-2 would be the ‘perfect’ configuration?  As we sat waiting to see who would come along to complete the sandwich, we were ever so hopeful that perhaps we’d have the row to ourselves.

It wasn’t long before our hopes were squashed, as a plump Japanese fellow came wandering by.  He was what you’d expect a Japanese man to look like, except not.  He was likely in his mid-sixties, had long greasy hair with a slight comb over, and smelled as if he just ate some boiled eel while waiting for the flight to board.  His blue Hawaiian shirt had me thinking at first that perhaps he was a Japanese-American, or Canadian, or Dutch, or anything else.  But then he began jabbering to both Katherine and I in Japanese.  He clearly didn’t know any English.

When our new friend first sat, he immediately offered us some “candies”, and we politely refused with fear that it might be the boiled eel he smelled of.  We then offered him some Pringles, in which he politely refused probably thinking the exact same thing about us.

During the flight to the “City of Life”, Katherine and I spent most of it sleeping.  We missed all meals, snacks, and drinks, and only opened our eyes long enough to see if we were there yet.  Without hesitation, each time we opened our eyes our new friend would wave, make gestures about sleeping, and speak to us some more in Japanese.  During one of my many readjustments to find comfort in the confined quarters of a 5 in a 2-5-2 configuration, I needed to loosen my seat belt but struggled so much with it that I just couldn’t be bothered.  At some point during the sleep in this new position, our new friend was kind enough to unbuckle my seat belt for me, obviously playing witness to the struggles I was having.  And at one point when Katherine had gotten out her blanket and was clearly cold, he promptly got up and turned off the air blower above her and my seats.  With all of this “assistance” throughout the flight, it was like having our own personal flight attendant.

Toward the end of the flight when we all started to fill out our immigration cards, our personal flight attendant continued to jammer to himself in Japanese.  Must’ve been about the small print, because he soon got out a magnifying glass so he could read it.  I still don’t know how the magnifying glass helped him because the immigration cards were printed in English and Thai, with clearly no Japanese.

At the end of the flight, we “said” our good-byes, nodding politely and patting each other on the shoulders.  It was rather sad to see him go, and I wanted to invite him onto all of our flights and let him know what great service he gave!

Two days later while strolling the streets of Bangkok, we ran into our friend again.  He was rather confused when we first went up and spoke to him, but lit up like a light bulb the second he made the connection.  Without speaking a word of English to each other, Katherine and I had made friends with a man whom in our eyes, is a genuine, kind, gentleman.

– Thomas

Tags: , ,

Categories: Thailand, Travel Tales

Author:Thomas & Katherine

A love for travel, adventure, and photography. We just can't help but write about it!

One Comment on “Up In The Air”

  1. Buddhabelly
    August 11, 2010 at 11:52 am #

    So sweet!


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