A Long Way To Go To Return A Book

, , , | Friendly | June 15, 2017

I work at a library in a small-ish city, about 15,000 people, and since our library also functions as a community center of sorts, I see a lot of people every day. Since I’ve worked there over ten years, by now a lot of people in town recognize me, to the point where at least once a week I’ll be at the grocery store or church and have a stranger come up to me and go “I know you! You work at the library!”

This isn’t exactly limited to our town, either — quite a few people in neighboring cities have library cards at our library, so I could be shopping or doing my business in one of the nearby cities and have someone I don’t even know recognize me. It’s usually a good experience, but it can be strange at times.

Last summer, I traveled across the country with a friend to attend a festival in another state. So naturally, during the entire trip work is the last thing on my mind. On the flight home, I’m sitting on the plane watching the rest of the passengers board when a woman makes eye contact with me and bursts out:

“Hey, I know you! You work at the library in [City]! Fancy meeting you here!”

I knew that since I WAS flying home, odds were higher than usual that I’d run into someone who lived close to me. But seeing as I was on a plane thousands of miles from home when it happened, the whole experience was more than a little surreal.

Pokémon Go Away

, , , , | Friendly | June 5, 2017

(I’m flying home after a trip to Asia. I’m on the last leg of my route, which is a three-hour flight from Vancouver to my hometown. The entertainment screens on the plane are out of order for the flight, so I pull out my Nintendo DS to play some Pokémon. After a few minutes of playing, I realize the child sitting next to me, who is probably around eight years old, has his eyes glued to the screen.)

Me: “Do you like Pokémon?”

Child: “I LOVE Pokémon! I even have a Charizard card at home!”

(Because Nintendo updated their system a few years ago, I’ve actually got two Nintendo DS systems since the games aren’t compatible with each other; one super old Nintendo DS Lite and one of the newer Nintendo New 3DS XL. I pull the older system out of my bag and offer it to the child.)

Me: “Do you want to play too?”

(The child gets a huge smile on his face and turns to ask his mum if it’s all right. She nods. I set the DS up, and hand it to the child. After a few minutes she looks over to see what the child is doing.)

Mum: “Um, no. He wanted that one.” *she points to the system I’m using* “He wants the new one. The one you gave him is too old.”

Me: “The old one works just fine, actually. And there’s a bigger variety of games. Besides, I just got this system and I’m not comfortable lending it out yet. Sorry.”

Mum: “No, it’s too old. Give him the new one. You’re probably not really even using it. You’re too old for Pokémon. Let him use it.” *reaches for my system*

Me: “Whoa, ma’am, no. This is mine. I’m using it. The one I lent your son works just fine. Look, he’s happy playing on that one. I’m not giving you this one.”

(She scowls at me, reaches up and pushes the “call flight attendant” button. As soon as the flight attendant arrives, she starts rambling on about how I won’t give her son back -his- DS. Meanwhile, the son is completely oblivious to what is going on and is engulfed in the Pokémon game.)

Mum: “He offered to share, and now she won’t give back the game! I demand you make her give my son back his game!”

Me: “What? No! I can assure you these are both my systems. Look, both the chargers are in my bag, along with multiple games and cases. And, if you look on the systems they both have my personal information in them. I can show you. They both even have stickers on the bottom with my full name and phone number in case I lose them.”

Mum: “NO! She’s lying! She did that while we went to the bathroom! She’s trying to steal my son’s games! GIVE IT BACK!”

(She lunges for my DS again. The poor flight attendant looks extremely confused, and meekly suggests we just put the games away. Then the passenger in front of us turns around.)

Passenger: “Geez, lady, will you shut the hell up. I’ve heard everything. This nice young lady so graciously offered to let your son play Pokémon on a system she wasn’t using. Now you’ve gone and messed it up because he didn’t get the system you thought he should have. Just look at him. He’s completely happy with that one. Now you’ve ruined it.”

(This seems like enough for the flight attendant who then asks to take a look at both systems. She sees the stickers I placed on the bottom and confirms that they are indeed mine. Then she asks if I wouldn’t mind putting them away. I oblige and put them back in my backpack. The child looks absolutely devastated, and the mother is fuming. She’s insisting I stole the systems from her, and that she’s going to call the police once we land. The flight attendant confirms that yes, police will be there, but only to escort her from the plane. The lady goes pale, and says absolutely nothing for the remainder of the flight. Just before we land, I apologize to the child.)

Me: “Look, I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean for that to happen.”

Child: “It’s okay. It wasn’t your fault. She ruins everything.”

(I tried to find the child in the airport after we landed to secretly slip him the old DS and Pokémon game since I don’t really use it much, but I couldn’t find him.)

Flights Of Fancy

| Australia | Related | March 31, 2017

(This happened when I was about two years old and about to go on a long flight with my mum. It was her first time travelling alone with me and I was at the stage when I often threw tantrums so she was worried.)

Mum: “If you are noisy on the plane, they will ask you to leave.”

Me: “In the air?”

Mum: “Yes.”

(I don’t blame her for saying it because I’m sure every parent says silly/bad things and usually nothing comes of it. But, although I forget the conversation itself, I remember and believe what she told me, probably because my family travels a lot, and I think about it every time we fly. I behave very well on flights. Eventually I decide that the plane must actually land at the nearest airport before the crew orders the passenger to leave so that the passenger doesn’t die. Since I don’t understand the cost and other issues with this, it seems no different from when my teachers send students out of the classroom as soon as they start misbehaving. I never doubt it until I am seven and witness a young child throwing a loud tantrum on a plane.)

Me: “Why don’t they make him leave the plane?”

Mum: “They can’t do that in the middle of a flight!”

Me: “I mean why can’t they land somewhere and leave him there with his parents? That’s how it works, right?”

(Then my mum remembered her desperate attempt to keep me quiet when I was a toddler and she explained everything.)

At The Right Attitude Altitude

| Milwaukee, WI, USA | Working | March 22, 2017

(I am aboard a flight that is leaving at six am, at the end of January.)

Flight Attendant: “Welcome to your private jet. Since there are only ten of you, please feel free to sit where you’d like. We prefer the front of the plane, due to weight, but it doesn’t matter. Your flight attendants are [Name #1, Name #2, and Name #3] and we will be around to cater you when we are at cruising altitude.”

Made The Flight Bear-able

| England, UK | Related | September 26, 2016

(We are on a large family holiday. All of us are adults now with kids of our own. It’s a long flight so i take out the colouring books and crayons we brought.)

Eldest Sister: “Can we borrow some of them?”

Me: *slightly annoyed at the lack of preparation* ” Sure.”

(An hour in, our daughter is getting bored again. I take out some story books and snacks.)

Other Sister: “[Child] is bored; could we borrow one?”

Me: “Fine.”

(After a long flight we have a great holiday and reluctantly join the plane home. As none of the “borrowed” items came back and with limited shops we make do.)

Eldest Sister: “You don’t mind if we borrow some again?”

Me: “What happened to the last lot?”

Eldest Sister: *shrugs*

Other Sister: “Me, too!”

(Frustrated and annoyed how two grown women fail to prepare for their own children, but not wanting to ruin the holiday, we do our best to entertain our three-year-old with a few crayons and single colouring book. Quickly enough she is bored and I have nothing left to entertain her.)

Me: *to my wife* “You know what?! Sod it. We are on holiday. Pass me the menu.”

Me: *to the flight attendant* Can we have two drinks, a kids selection pack, and—” *silently pointing* “—one of those, please.”

Stewardess: *all smiles* “Of course, sir.”

(Our daughter might have been upset to leave, but when the pilot teddy bear came down the aisle she forgot all about it. My sisters, however, had to deal with the begging and pleading from their kids, but of course they failed to leave any money aside to prepare for the flight home. Two years later, she still has the bear, in a place of pride in her room.)

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