I love to travel and have been very lucky to have so many opportunities to do so. As of now, I’ve spent time in eight countries (Including my own and the Vatican). As any traveler does, I have my fair share of stories. Few travel stories focus on the destination but many on the on the road taken to get there. Airplanes! They make for bad experiences and good stories.
I have one story. One that is actually good, the rest are generic. Getting randomly selected all the time, including one swabbed for explosives. Waiting for hours in crowded rooms. Once getting smack in the back of my head by a guy stretching. I’ve been pretty lucky with airplanes and their staff. But one thing happened that is one of the weirdest experiences I have ever had. This is the story of The Breadman.
A couple of years ago I went to Germany for Christmas. It was my first trip to Europe and I was ecstatic. I arrived and spent ten days traveling around with no problem. My strange story starts with boarding my seven hour flight home.
When I got on the plane I was surprised to find that my seat had changed. I guess the flight had overbooked because I found myself sitting in premium economy rather than economy. Not that I’m going to complain. Actually I am. Because when I sat down in my seat at the very back of the section I realized I had no TV. I did not have the ability to entertain myself for seven hours. This is when I got lucky again. A man came over to me and said, “Excuse me, I think you’re in my seat.” and showed me his ticket, with the same number as on my ticket.
“Oh, the airline must have double booked. I think they put me in the wrong section anyways. You can have this seat and I’ll find a flight attendant.” He seemed rather pleased with my offer to give up the seat, so I threw my carry on over my shoulder and approached the first flight attendant I could find. I explained my situation. And she told me to hang tight for a few minutes. When the plane was almost full she finally gave me a new seat number, also in premium economy (this one even had a TV!) and I sat down to enjoy my flight.
This is when things started to get weird.
After a few minutes sitting alone in my aisle seat a man came over and pointed at the seat next to me and then to his ticket. I understood what he wanted and stood up so he could take his seat. He wasn’t a bad person to sit beside, he just sat there reading his book, at first.
After taking off he started to order drinks. Vodka and orange juice. Not one, not two, but three vodka and orange juices! Despite them being in tiny cups I started to feel weird about it. It made me uncomfortable, I wasn’t really the drink-on-an-airplane type of girl. After his third drink he dozed off to sleep, so I thought he’d be no problem. But his nap turned out to be the cause of my complaining.
About an hour later, while he was asleep, the flight attendants brought around the in-flight meal. I, being lactose intolerant, choose the cheese ravioli, with extra cheese. Along with the stomach ache I had ordered came a warm roll of bread. I picked up my bread and gave it a squeeze, it smelled so good! I decided to leave it for last and tucked into my ravioli.
Meanwhile, my friendly neighbor had woken up. I didn’t realize being occupied by both the food and watching Frozen. That is, until a hand darted across my body, across my tray and snatched the little roll from the other side. I ripped my headphones off and looked at him just in time to see him take a big bite out of my roll. In response to my utter look of outrage he said “bread *grunt* good” and then curled up and went back to sleep.
I was in shock. Firstly that he had taken what was mine without asking (I would have given it to him or flagged down a flight attendant to bring him his food). Secondly that he had invaded my personal space. As a young girl traveling alone I’m always super nervous on airplanes (if you think it’s odd blame my parents for drilling it into me). Someone invading my personal space on an airplane was a first. It made me uncomfortable.
Luckily nothing else weird happen in the rest of the flight and when they brought me a snack, which also featured a bread roll, I made sure to take a bite before leaving it for last.
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