I don’t think I’m an overly tactless person, but like most of us I’ve had my fair share of foot-in-mouth incidences. Occasionally I engage my mouth without making sure that my brain is operating on all cylinders and talk sans filter, but those times are usually few and far between so it isn’t often that I have to deal with the fallout of saying the exact wrong thing at the exact wrong time.
But what happened last weekend? I don’t think anyone could hold me responsible for that.
I was travelling out of town to visit my brother who lives about two hours away from me by plane. I’m not a huge fan of flying, not because I’m afraid of it, but because I hate the waiting, then the herding, then the being couped up like cattle. As soon as someone invents a teleporter I’ll be placing my order with Amazon! To help make the trip a little more bearable I’d packed my iPad full of easy to watch films, ready to lose myself for a couple of hours in the delights of Disney. But I didn’t take into consideration my seat mate.
To be fair, she was a very nice girl. She chatted away merrily as we took off, asking me who I was visiting, but I wasn’t really in the mood for chat so as soon as the seatbelt light was off I had that iPad out of my bag quicker than you could blink. Not that that stopped her, oh no! It turns out she had very strong opinions on the movie Mulan, which she continued to tell me all about until I finally gave her one of my earbuds out of sheer self preservation. That shut her up, and we watched the film with only the occasional aside from her, much to my relief.
Once we started to land the iPad had to go back in the bag, so it was back to Chatty Cathy. She talked about the plane, about the town we were going to, about what she planned to do over the weekend. I kept politely quiet through it all, only speaking up when she made a comment about how our flight was delayed by about 10 minutes. I replied with “It’s a bit annoying, but I’d still prefer to fly with these guys than the other airline. I’ve never had any good experiences with them.”
At this, my verbose new friend got a funny look on her face. Normally I would have realised there was more going on than us just talking about two airlines, but I’d just spent two hours listening to her talk so I wasn’t paying much attention.
“Really,” she asked tightly, “You don’t like them?”
“No, the attendants are always so rude, and the planes are just uncomfortable,” I replied.
“I see..” she said coolly. I should have noticed there was a problem at this point, it was the quietest she’d been the whole flight including when the movie was on, “… I’m an attendant with that airline.”
Still, I wasn’t going to take any of it back. Their attendants ARE rude and their planes ARE uncomfortable. But it did put a stop to any more conversation.
Perhaps I should have done it at the beginning of the flight.
But no matter how much of a faux pas I may have made, it’s still not as bad as one that a friend of mine once made. She was watching a woman try on a shirt and when the woman said she’d need a bigger size, her comment was “Oh, but that’s okay. You need room for the baby.”
The woman’s reply of “Excuse me?” should have been a clue to stop, or perhaps my desperate gestures to shut the hell up, but no my friend just continued on blithely.
“Well you can’t expect to wear a smaller size when you’re pregnant.”
Needless to say the woman wasn’t in fact pregnant … and to this day we’ve never let my friend forget it.
When it comes to matters like that my personal philosophy is I don't care how big someone looks, unless you see a human being coming out of them, assume they just had a big lunch.