At the end of the flight, all I wanted to do was to get off the plane. No matter how many times I fly, I can’t wrap my mind around the time between the wheels touching the runway, and my feet touching the jetway. The ten minute wait to leave my seat always feels much longer. On this day, our layover was only 37 minutes, and that’s not much time, especially with a three and five year old who would need to pee, would walk slow, and would not understand moving with a sense of urgency for at least five more years.
The kids had been great on the flight. It was a short two hour leg, and even though we had left our house at 4 am, we were all excited for our adventure. A backpack full of snacks, toys, and movies kept them entertained, and while I gathered all of these items to deplane, I also collected compliments from fellow passengers. People have heard horror stories about kids on airplanes, and I can see the panic in their eyes when my children and I are seated nearby. When my kids aren’t the seat-kicking screamers they are expected to be, everyone is relieved and overly complimentary. “Your kids did so well!” from the woman in front of us. “Good job, Mom,” from the suit behind us. The elderly couple across from us stood up carefully, and the woman smiled. “Your children were wonderful,” she said. “You must be so proud.” I really was. I never get more compliments on my kids’ behavior than on travel days. For all the times they act like selfish little assholes, they owe me this. I love the mom boost I get when we fly.
We gathered our things, and waited our turn to exit our seats and make our way off the plane. The sweet elderly couple was in front of us, and when we got to the front of the plane, the flight attendant told the couple that the woman’s wheelchair wasn’t quite ready. It was suggested that they take a seat while they waited. This caused a hiccup in the deplaning, and a man behind me sighed loudly. “Are you kidding me?” he complained. “Come on!” I turned around, thankful my kids were in front of me and not between me and this man who was acting like he needed a time out. I’m a mom, and since I hadn’t had to do any scolding for two hours, I was overdue. I looked him in the eye and said, “Don’t be a dick. It’s only for a minute.” The old couple shuffled to the seats in the first row to wait, and before we could continue heading off the plane, the man behind me spoke, again. “Are those your documents?” he asked, pointing to the floor. I looked down, and saw that all of our boarding passes for the next flight had fallen out of my pocket. “Uh, yeah. Wow. Thanks.” I picked up the wad of papers, thinking how we could have missed our next flight without those important documents, and said sheepishly, “I guess you’re not a total dick,” ushered my kids off the plane, and hoped feverishly that Mr. Not a Total Dick wasn’t on our next flight.