Ssshhhh, Quiet Please!
I was on a flight from San Francisco to London last week—that’s a ten-hour flight, may I remind you—and I found myself with a curious problem. In all my years of flying, I’d never seen—well, heard-–anything like it. And so I didn’t know how to deal.
The problem? The people sitting behind me would NOT. STOP. TALKING.
Seriously, they just wouldn’t stop. There were three of them and they were chattering as we sat on the runway. Then they were chattering as we took off. Then they were chattering while drinks were served, then they were chattering while dinner was served, and then they were still chattering while the shades were drawn and the lights were dimmed and everyone else in the cabin took the hint and went to sleep. And they weren’t chattering quietly—or even at a normal level, come to think of it. These people were loud.
Perturbed, I tried giving them a meaningful look. (A tad passive-aggressive, I know, but it’s my tried-and-tested method for dealing with seat-kickers and armrest-stealers, and it usually works like a charm.) Nothing happened: the talking continued. Loudly. I put my earphones on and tried to watch a movie instead.
The kicker? I COULD HEAR THEM TALKING OVER MY MOVIE.
And so I turned around.
Readers, I am sorry to say that I lost my patience. A whole five hours of listening to these people talk at top volume (about nothing! they weren’t even having a juicy conversation I’d be happy to eavesdrop on!) had just about done me in.
“WOULD YOU PLEASE BE QUIET?” I said. “I’M TRYING TO WATCH THIS VERY POIGNANT MOVIE, I’VE GOT IT TURNED UP AS LOUD AS IT WILL GO, AND I CAN STILL HEAR YOU TALKING THROUGH MY HEADPHONES!”
Well, they sort of toned it down a little after that. Not a whole lot, mind you, but it was certainly a marked improvement.
It got me thinking though: was I wrong to ask them to be quiet? Talking is, after all, kind of a basic human right and who am I to ask a person not to do it? That said, though, most of us are keenly aware of the close quarters on planes and adjust the volume of our voices accordingly. Perhaps if you need to be asked to shut up, you absolutely deserve it.
What say you? Would you have toughed it out with the talkers, tattled on them to the flight attendant (trust me, I considered it), or turned around and dealt with the situation yourself? Inquiring minds want to know. But shhhh, give me your answer quietly.
(Image courtesy of Son of the South)