Little Orphan Maple

April 24, 2009

in Baby & Kid Stories

My Chicago-based company decided on Monday to send me to do a field visit in Anchorage on Wednesday. Everyone loves a last minute trip to Alaska in January, right? At the gate, the sign says we’re headed to Minneapolis. After some inquiries I learn that due to the prevailing winds, a refueling stop in Minneapolis is needed. Great. As if the flight from Chicago to Anchorage isn’t long enough. While in the gate area, I hear the airline people paging someone named Maple. Yes, like the tree. (Names have been changed but the actual name is just as ridiculous.) Eventually we board and my window seat is next to Maple – a 5 year-old girl traveling alone. 5 years old. Traveling alone. I have a pleasant little conversation with the youngster, thinking she belongs to the early thirties gentleman sitting on the aisle. With the extra flight attendant attention, I soon realize, nope. The kid is orphaned on this plane.

The 9 hour ordeal (9 hours. I should be able to get to Asia in 9 hours. Geez, at least to the Middle East or something) involved me bringing out my babysitting skills from age 13. We played thumb war. We played hangman. We read books. We colored. I set up her movie she didn’t watch. I took her to the bathroom. The man on the aisle was actually an angel and spent a lot of time entertaining her. She gets progressively crabbier and crabbier and whinier and whinier. As it neared 2 a.m. Chicago time, she finally decided to try to sleep. Well, she didn’t sleep much – she spent the time kicking me with her too warm little feet as she laid her head on the thigh of the gentleman on the aisle.

During this time, the 2 female flight attendants keep walking by and giving me these “oh, isn’t she the most adorable thing ever” looks as I’m feeling about ready to poke their eyes out with a My Little Pony hoof.

Let’s just say that upon arrival in Anchorage, I really wanted to find this kids mother and give her a piece of my mind (dad lives in Chicago)…or at least ask for the $5 an hour I used to make as a babysitter!

I’m probably somewhat impatient with kids as a 27-year old single, childless gal, but I think anyone can agree it is completely unreasonable for a child of that age to be flying alone on such a long flight. What if the people next to her and been total jerks and refused to babysit? How would that kid have survived?

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Hugh May 1, 2009 at 7:25 am

No one asked you to entertain her, you did that of your own volition, and now you're complaining about it? Maybe the parents are divorced and this is the only way she can see the non custodial parent. Had you not played "babysitter" I'm sure the FAs would have handled it. I was feeling good about you until the end when you started griping about the decision that YOU made.


Julicans May 2, 2009 at 7:28 am

ditto, Hugh


Julicans May 2, 2009 at 7:31 am

Oh, and btw, who are you to judge last names? You don't even have the balls to put any name to this story!


K. Watson May 5, 2009 at 10:21 am

As a Flight Attendant with British Airways for 15 years, I can tell you that, as a U.M., that little girl should have been under constant and sole watch by the cabin crew for the duration of the flight. We do NOT expect the passengers to be babysitters for U.M's. I'm shocked that the Flight Attendants on your flight obviously did nothing in regards to tending to this child's needs – as they damn well should have.


LOL May 6, 2009 at 12:01 pm

You two are nice to look after the little girl. Kids make me feel better about life, i a not sure why so many people hate them. Did you people not like playing in the mud when you were younger?


mercutioman May 6, 2009 at 11:13 pm

I have to disagree with Hugh here, the posters choice was to either behave like a decent human being or a jerk. Giving a 5 year old the cold shoulder because her parents are idiots should not be an acceptable alternative for people who have any compassion.

She is not complaining about her choice to help entertain a 5 year old girl who is probably scared and needing comfort, but rather complaining about the persons responsible for putting the child in that position in the first place. The point is that she shouldn't have had to play babysitter in the first place, the FA's or the parents should have been responsible and taken care of the situation.

I personally would never put my children in this situation, but I would hope that if they ever were in a similar situation that the people around my child would have the decency to be human beings and take pity on a scared little girl. Frankly, if you can't understand that then I hope you are never the person who sits next to them.


Onslow May 25, 2009 at 11:22 am

This situation was totally ridiculous, and I would have refused to be seated next to a child this age with no parent or guardian seated with her. Any parent or person in charge of a child this age deserves to be horse-whipped for sending a kid this age off on a long flight with total strangers.


Atari May 30, 2009 at 10:58 pm

Amen, Mercutioman.


Kara June 8, 2009 at 3:29 pm

I feel sorry for this little girl having to fly alone. God blessed her though with two thoughtful people who helped to take care of her.


Davey Shitepant July 21, 2009 at 3:42 pm

Too bad she did'nt crap on you, then you would have understood parenthood quite well.


mags July 22, 2009 at 7:44 pm

Good lord, forget about people being jerks what if the 'nice' man sitting next to her were a sex offender?

Did you know: In Australia, Men are Barred From Sitting Next to Unaccompanied Children

The FAs were responsible, shame on them for shifting their responsibilities onto to unsuspecting, paying passengers!


DJA July 28, 2009 at 11:30 am

I'm with mercutioman here. Kid behaved pretty reasonably for a 5-year old (especially given circumstances), poster behaved charitably in the situation, but the FAs and parents who collectively left this child without official supervision have absolutely no excuse.


College Kid November 9, 2010 at 12:45 pm

I flew with my brother frequently when he was 3 and i was 5. We were polite, entertained ourselves and didn't bother anyone. No one asked you to babysit.


Amber May 19, 2016 at 11:07 am

OP you didn't have to babysit the child, you did and the FAs saw that and figured they could let up themselves. Had you not engaged the child the FAs would've likely did their jobs and did so themselves.


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