Pickle Breath and Senior Sally

March 25, 2011

in Senior Stories

A16. I love that number. As anyone who flies Southwest knows, that’s a magical number. That number means you can sit just about anywhere you want. On this particular flight from Denver to Ont., California, I chose to sit in the aisle seat of the bulkhead.

People streamed past me to further aisles. On the line went, everyone shuffling past, leaving me to wonder if, for once, I was truly going to get an aisle to myself. The thought tickled me. Then –

“Excuse me. We need to sit here.” I looked up to see an elderly couple.

“Sure,” I said, moving into the aisle to let them get seated. He chose the aisle seat, and she the window, leaving me with the middle.

Now, I’m pretty accommodating. Even though I love the aisle seat, if these folks wanted their particular perches, I was cool with that. Until it got weird.

First of all, the gentleman smelled like McDonald’s pickles. You know the cheap ones they put on their burgers? Clearly he’d just been eating one. The smell was incredible, and it only got worse after takeoff. To cork it, he kept dozing off, lolling his head on my shoulder and expelling pickle-breath into my face.

I turned to his wife and asked if she’d like to switch with me. “No,” she said. “It’ll only wake him up again.”

After a few minutes, she produced a newspaper, the crinkling of which woke him. She turned to a full-page ad for the “Portable Amish-Made Fireplace” (the one that looks like a real article). She thrust the newspaper across me and stabbed a finger at the page. “We need one of these! Keep your room warm!” There ensued an argument about portable fireplaces, and supporting the Amish, and wait – the Amish made electronics now?

“Actually, ma’am,” I interrupted. “The Amish didn’t make the actual fireplace. They just made the wooden mantel on it.”

“This article says they made the fireplace.”

“Ah, they made that one part. And truthfully, it’s not an article – it’s an ad made to look like one.” I indicated the giant letters that read “This is an Advertisement” across the top.

She stared at me. Then she tucked the newspaper away, folded her arms, and proceeded to glare straight ahead until the snacks came around. That’s when I got a sharp nudge to the arm and a “Get me one of those cookie things, will you?” Pickle-breath was back to snoring, and I was ordered to “Get one for him too. I”ll keep it in my purse.”

Finally, around 20 minutes of peace. Then – “I need to use the facilities.” All right. “You need to move. I can’t get in front of you.” Mind you, we’re seated in the bulkhead, so she’s got room to spare. Biting my tongue, I climbed into the aisle and stood by.

She used her husband as a hand-hold. He slept through it. When she reached the aisle, she used ME as a hand-hold (no joke, front of my shirt grab), then sort of shoved me backward and almost onto the floor.

Landing couldn’t come fast enough. When it did – you guessed it – Senior Sally held up the whole plane while she tried to get her suitcase out of the overhead bin (where I’d helpfully put it when they seated, and she snapped that she didn’t want me reaching again).

I was taught to respect my elders. Apparently this elder wasn’t taught to respect anyone ELSE.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

TacoDave March 28, 2011 at 6:32 pm

That sucks. I wouldn't have let them put me in the middle seat to begin with. First come, first served.


Jody March 30, 2011 at 6:05 am

I'm with TacoDave. I'd have reminded them that the aisle seat is mine, and asked them to move — and if they refused, called the FA.


CMP March 31, 2011 at 2:13 pm

I've seen a lot of old folks on the plane take advantage of their age and be really rude, thinking nobody would dare confront them.


Karl June 26, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Why are you such a Wussy? Speak up and tell this old fart that this is YOUR seat!


Tilikum July 14, 2011 at 1:23 am



Mackiepest August 6, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Out of curiosity, did you move into the window seat once “Sally” went to the facilities?


Leave a Comment
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post:

Next post: