FRANQUE’S COMEDY OF ERRORS

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My favourite TV show at some point was ‘Kids Say’ hosted by Bill Cosby.  If you ever saw an edition you would understand why.

Ever wondered what happened to those kids? Considering how long ago the show aired, I believe they grew up – they surely should.

In my line of work, everyday is an edition of what I like to think of as ‘People Say (and do)’.

The other day I was boarding a flight to Owerri.  Now, it was around the Christmas holidays and it was a full flight with more than 65% of the passengers returning from ‘overseas’ – especially my brothers returning from Jo’burg (pronounced Joberg). In typical South-eastern fashion (pun intended) it was a very flashy and colourful flight.

The flight had been delayed a few hours due poor visibility.  Delay announcements had been made at intervals with updates as they came through.

When we eventually commenced boarding more than a few were simply happy to be getting on board.  There are always those, however, who feel the need to ‘show themselves’.  At the door, passengers are required to show their boarding passes as they came on board – this usually takes 4 seconds within which I am supposed to have seen the name, date of travel, flight number and seat number of the passenger. Most passengers were happy to show theirs, but this one man refused. “I know my seat my friend!!” He shouted. “Besides how many people want to check this same boarding pass, ehn?” Seeing that I was not going to let him board without sighting the pass, he pulled it from his breast pocket and shoved it in my face. While for professional reasons I could not laugh out as I wanted, it was with a good helping of glee that I said to him “Sir, where did you plan on travelling to when you left home today?” “Portharcourt of course!” By this time, the people behind him were beginning to get impatient. “Well sir,” I said, “If you retrace your steps and ask at the gate, I am sure my colleagues will be happy to direct you to your aircraft. This one is headed to Owerri.” I flashed him a really bright smile, then turned my attention to the lady behind him and asked for her boarding pass.

On another flight, I had been working down the back, and passengers were boarding. The flight was booked full, and on such flights cabin space was always an issue. Given our penchant – as Nigerians – for shopping, it is almost considered a violation of our fundamental human rights to insist on one reasonably sized cabin bag per passenger. As a way around this, most airlines have adopted the ‘first come first stowed’ policy. This way when all hatrack spaces had been taken, the poor unfortunates would have no choice but take their bags out to be tagged and put in the hold. Inconvenient, right?

Well, this lady came on board with her wheelie. Her seat was at the rear, just close to me, but the hatrack space abover her had been taken. Without looking around her for space, she simply snapped her fingers at me, pointed to her bag, looked up at the hatrack above her seat and then shrugged her shoulders.

Wow! Double wow! I cooly locked eyes with her, looked over my shoulder behind me – to make sure she was ‘talking’ to someone behind me – looked back at her, making sure we still had eye contact, walked towards her, then past her towards the galley where I casually poured a cup of water, and leaning against the galley surface, proceeded to sip the water.

The look of shock on her face was the best sight I had seen that day. “Can’t you see that I am struggling with a bag?” She asked. At this I pushed myself off the cart I was leaning against. I walked into the cabin and moved a few bags around to make space for her case.  “If you would bring the suitcase here ma’am, we should be able to fit it in.” I said to her. “What do you mean? Will you come and take the bag? After all it’s your job.” At that last one I actually smiled. “May I suggest that you hurry up ma’am before someone else takes the space?” “Insolent!” She screeched. “That is the problem with Nigerians, poor customer service. Do you know where I am coming from? Rubbish like this would not happen there!”

“Please shut up and let us hear word.” A man who had sat quietly observing everything could not take anymore. “You are holding people up, harrasing the young man and generally constituting a nuisance. Abeg, where are you coming from? Heaven? Like say no be Nanny work you dey do there. Do you even have a husband? I don’t think so, because with attitude like this no man will put you in his house.”

“How does this matter concern you?” She asked, only to be met with a chorus of “shut up” “betch” “ashewo”. She automatically became the trending topic – herself and ‘women of nowadays – and I made myself scarce. I bet she did not see the situation playing out like that.

From boarding to disembarking, most flights are a barrel of laughs for me, but some are just frustrating. The most ‘eventful’ part of a flight for me usually is during the meal service. During the meal service, my cart is set up so that all the drinks I have available on offer are displayed on the cart – in the hope that this visual form of merchandising will help people decide what they would like. Amazingly, seven out of ten times, this touch is lost on people.

Walking through the aisle on one flight from Portharcourt recently, I asked a gentleman “Would you like a muffin or meatpie?” “Meat.” Came his short reply. “And what would you like to drink, sir?” To which he replied, “What have you got?” I ran through my list of drinks. “Orange, apple and pineapple juices; coke, fanta, sprite and diet coke, and water.” He closed his eyes and tilted his head back a little. It was only the “Ummmm..” sound coming from him that told me he was still awake. After about fifteen seconds, his eyes flew open and he said “Give me water.” What?! You had to think about a glass of water like it was rocket science? I served him, then repeated the same questions to the lady seated next to him. She asked for a snack and when it came to her drink, she asked “So what do you have?” You’ve got to be kidding me! Did you not just hear the list I ran through for your neighbour?

A few rows down, I asked this lady if she would like a snack – making sure to mention both choices. Her pupils just rolled into her head. Now I have heard of a mental picture, but actually looking into your brain? When she parted her lips, it was to say “What is a muffin?” O-K-E-I!! I showed her the muffin – and the meatpie for good measure. “Pie please” she said. “And what drink for you ma’am?” “Kaiveerah and worah please,” she said pointing to a pack of fruit juice. I served her a glass of orange juice and another of water, but till I finished the service my mind kept returning to her choice of drink. It was not until the end of the flight, coming in to land, that it hit me! Chivita!!

Talking about the end of the flight brings to mind another part of flying that never ceases to amaze, and amuse, me – taxiing to the gate.

Nine times out of ten, after the wheels have touched the tarmac, and the aircraft stops for any reason at all, there are passengers who will rush to their feet, open the hatrack, bring down their bags and then stand in the aisle because they can not get off the aircraft. Making you wonder why they bother. I mean, you have been on board this aircraft for at least one hour, what is another three minutes?

On a particular flight out of Johannesburg, we had encountered turbulence and the fasten seat belt sign had come on. A man had given me grief when I asked him to fasten his seat belt. According to him, “At least I am sitting down, and you are standing over my head asking me to fasten my seat belt. Bros, na stand you stand o! Abeg free me jor.” I let him be. When we landed in Lagos, the aircraft had to stop short of the gate to be tugged to the bridge. As soon as the aircraft stopped, this same man got up and was walking towards the toilet when the aircraft was tugged forward. The man fell as if he had been poleaxed. Straight down he went, and banged his head against an arm rest on the way, narrowly missing a woman with her infant sitting there. Mercifully, he did not sustain any injury.

Following that, I modified my announcement to include: “Before you don your helmets, grab your armours and dash for the door like Spartans, please check that the seatbelt sign is switched off. They are those little lights above you, and there are over fifty of them on this aircraft.”

PS: I have striven not to laugh at human actions; not to weep for them; nor to hate them, but to understand them.

Franque

Franque

"Franque is in aviation, which by the way is not his job, just a lifestyle. If he ever kept a diary it would read like his articles will. Unfortunately he doesn't. Scratch that. He didn't.AIRtiquette is a walk in his shoes. Since regular isn't in his vocabulary, brace yourself for a bit of airwalking!" Follow @franque_521 on twitter.

31 comments

  1. Franque…today is Sunday, not Friday as you promised. But what can we do? Funny article, still I miss your relationship-y ones.

  2. Haha.

    I love your modified announcement!

    Honestly, it sucks traveling with some Nigerians. It’s like some of us lack decorum. I can’t believe the lady snapped her finger at you to pick up her luggage. Like what the hell! The whole standing up thing is also irritating. It’s true, what will another 3 minutes cost you? Evil me does wish that the man had bruised his lip or something. It would have taught him a good lesson. Very silly. People need to learn safety first.

    Since when did Chivita and water become “Kaiveerah and worah”? smh.

    1. Lol…forgot to mention that. “Kaiveerah and worah” Hunh? Warrahell? People kill me with these mystifying accents. But can we blame them? Everybody has one now…including our radio personalities & tv presenters who’ve lived all their lives here. If na me sef, I go request a murfin & a fanra.

  3. tres tres amusante….u’d think people that ve been flying for ‘ages’-as most claim- would have picked up the basic airtiquettes. gat mi wondering, franque, u should start handing out flyers on board o!!!maybe, just maybe….certain behaviours will be curbed. quel dommage! les gens sont tetu parfois.

  4. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha… OMG! This is one FUNNY piece! Got me Laughing My Ass Out on the go…

    But wait o! Franque, where have u been gan?! Eh?

  5. WTH tho…people act like being daft is cool nd since ur supposed to serve them, ur also supposed to give them common sense, this is some hilarious ish tho

  6. Dez alwayz drama aboard an aircraft. Wat irks me d most r d morons wu take foreva 2switch off their phones after several announcements by d attendants. A certain man practically had his fone wrestled away 4m him durin TAKE-OFF (no kidding) by anoda passenger wu even promised him a beating 1ce d wheels touched d tarmac. Luckily,9ja WWF ws averted as oda passengers pleaded on his behalf in d course of d next 50mins. I for 1 think he def deserved d promised smack-down.

  7. As usual, utterly entertaining but I have to admit how annoyed I am at how appalling people’s behaviours can be. Can you believe that Nigerian flights are the only flights I’ve been one where more than 70% of people on the flight take off their seat belts as soon as the plane’s wheels touch the tarmac (before the plane comes to a stop)? Drives me nuts.

  8. @ Kay-girl: iHope to never run into u in a lonely alley cis if ur Karate don’t floor me, ur french is sure to. *grin*
    @ Ready: the post was ready b4 Friday, but my waka waka wouldn’t let me post b4 Sunday. No vex. As for the accents…abeg leave o!
    @ Chiny n Shade: thanx. Y’all give me reason to keep writin.
    @ Worah: *in nursery rhyme voice: iHav been to d London to see da Queen.
    @ Tolz: plix don’t get me started on what is *cool, n what isn’t. *grin*
    @ Smiley Zee: u r on ya own o!
    @ Mateelly: shebi his fone was grabbed? iHev witnessed slappin – not 1ce, not 2ce. 9ja travelers don’t play.
    @ BWA: most ppl r more interested in givin u their fingers to ask 4 ur hand.
    @ Coz: what can iSay?when u scratch the surface a little, u’ll find people really r just that: people.
    @ Niolar n Mike: thanx.

  9. Haha this was rib cracking funny! I laughed from beginning to end! The funniest was the woman though lol, man oh man. Plus I wish you didnt tell that guy anything, PH instead of Owerri. Honestly, what a dunce how could he not know?

  10. this got me lol!!! the dude that was on d wrong flight shud ve bin upgraded 2 business class n served ril nyc……the look on his face wen he gets to owerri….priceless. lets c hu he will blame after.

  11. @Nenny and Miss N: Personally, there nothing iWould have liked better to upgrade the man and give him a treat to Owerri, but it’s for the avoidance of sucn n such that iCheck bordin passes. iWould have been seen as having failed at my job. Dude’s not worth it.
    @Dee: Na so we see am o

  12. Wow u really re good I laughed all the way while reading it but the one that got me most is the whole landing thing, I mean u sat through out the flight wat is 3 more mintues I always ask that question,glad someone thinks like me too.

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