James joined the long line to check their bags, pushing the laden trolley. The person ahead of him turned slightly, so he asked, “Is this the line up to check in?” The stranger nodded the affirmative, and he was relieved.
“Honestly, James, can’t you read? Do you have to disturb this poor fellow’s wait? Just look at the sign! Of course it’s where we check in! You can be so thick sometimes!” Rita’s small carry-on bag swayed with her flailing arms, and she looked as peevish as ever.
“Well, Rita, I just like to make sure is all. You never know, they might have made an announcement to change things!”
“Oh, they don’t do that, you foolish man. Now, do you have all the bags here? Did you get my little one? It’s very important that I have the little one, it has all my products in it. Oh, and my clothes bag? I don’t want to have to walk around naked everywhere, or worse, in the same change of clothes every day!”
“Yes, I got them,” he sighed.
“What about my electronics bags? My camera’s in there, so be careful! And I put some books in. I know they aren’t electronics, but we don’t want to get bored in Mexico!”
“Yes, I got it, and your other two bags. You know you’re only allowed 2 bags on the flight total, right?” he asked her, again.
“Well, you’ll say one is yours; you only brought one, like I told you to, right?” he nodded quietly. “And one is small enough to be your carry on bag. The last one, you’ll just have to pay extra for.” He sighed again, but didn’t say anything. “Honestly, we’re going for a week, how can I pack any lighter?”
James bit his lip, and they continued through the line. Rita stood silently for all of a minute, which in James’ mind must have been some kind of record, before she broke out, “Oh dear lord, look at her!”
“Hmm?” James grunted.
“Look at that tramp, her skirt just barely covers her bum, and her boobs are falling out all over the place.” Rita feigned being affronted, as she always did. James grunted affirmation, while enjoying the view. “James,” she swatted him. “Stop staring! You always do that, looking at other women! How dare you. You should only have eyes for me! What, do you want me to start dressing like her, like a hooker?”
“Of course you don’t! I’m not trashy! It’s ridiculous, the way they let these girls dress these days. There should be a law. You should go tell her to put some clothes on, it would sound more realistic coming from a man.”
James kept his mouth shut as Rita continued to pick apart the dress of every person around them, and to chastise James for looking.
As they approached the middle of the line, James’ cell phone started to ring. Oh thank God, he thought, a brief respite. Pulling it out of his pocket, he answered it. “Hello? Yes it is. Kevin! Good, we’re in the airport, haven’t checked in yet. How are things? Yes. No, you only need to feed them every other day. Yes. Anything else? Great, thanks, we will. Talk to you later Kev.” Closing his phone, he turned to Rita, who was standing there tapping her toe and looking annoyed. “That was Kevin, just asking about feeding our fish.”
“How can you do that? Answering your phone while I’m talking to you, and in the middle of a public space? That’s so terribly rude. And about something so stupid as the fish? I still can’t believe I let you get those. And don’t go blaming this on Kevin either, he’s not the one who answered his phone in front of all these people. The poor people in front of us, what must they think? ‘Look at this yuppie, thinks he’s so important he has to answer calls about fish in the middle of the airport line up!’ Well, let me tell you mister, that’s just rude behaviour…” and for the next ten minutes, James listened to Rita lecturing him on etiquette, though “listening” is such a strong word.
As they neared the front of the line, her sermon let up so that she could ask him, “Do you have the tickets ready?”
“Yes,” it was the first word he had spoken since the cell phone had gone away.
“Good, make sure you do, don’t waste the poor agent’s time, they’re always so mean. Make it easier on us, or they’ll lose our luggage. And straighten your tie, you look like a hobo. Honestly, what does it take to you get you to take care of yourself?” He ignored her as they inched forward.
“We’re next, keep an eye out. Oh, I think they’re going! There, head…no wait, they’re still there. James, be ready. You don’t look ready. Oh! There, let’s go!”
They stepped up to a tired-looking agent, and the haggardness reflected in James’ expression.
“Tickets please?” she asked.
“James, give her the tickets, I told you to have them ready!”
“Here you are,” he handed them to her.
“We have an extra bag,” Rita said. “But really, I don’t see how you can charge us for it. It’s very light, barely anything in it, and it’s ridiculous that you can set these authoritarian rules anyway. Completely against society. How dare you even presume to be able to tell us what we can and can’t bring. I want to speak to your manager right away! What kind of company treats its passengers like this…”
As Rita carried on, James looked at the agent and mouthed, “I’m so sorry, just ignore her.” She smiled at him and nodded.
Cutting in over Rita’s voice, she said, “Place the bags on the conveyer please.”
James reached down and lifted the bags. Rita stood watching him, offering advice such as “lift with your knees, dear,” and, “a little faster, James, this young lady has more important people to extort money from.”
As he placed the last bag on the conveyer, he pointed at it, caught the teller’s eye, and simply said “mine”. She nodded.
“Two tickets to Cancun, with…” James shook his head violently. “…with one extra bag?” she smiled. “That will be an extra charge of $53 dollars.”
James paid the money, with Rita complaining the whole time. “Enjoy your flight,” the agent said.
As the plane deboarded in Cancun, Rita asked him “Aren’t you getting off James? We’re here!”
“Hmm? Oh, yes, I’ll follow right behind you, I’m just going to do an extra check for anything we may have left,” he replied.
“Okay dear, see you in there,” she said.
As soon as she disappeared, out the door, he scurried up to the flight attendant, slipped her a 100 dollar bill, and said, “Please, for all of us, don’t let that woman back on.”
The attendant handed him back the bill and replied, “Don’t worry, you don’t need a bribe for that one,” and smiled.
Twenty minutes later, as Rita rushed around trying to get back on the plane, James was heading for the plane’s final destination of Rio de Janeiro, and looking forward to a peaceful vacation.