I was on plane yesterday from Orlando to Philadelphia that was maybe 2/3's full. A few moments after I sat down in the aisle seat, my row-mates arrived, a 14ish-year-old boy and a 5-year-old boy. They were traveling without adults, and with A LOT of carry-on luggage.
The older boy, maybe a hundred pounds wet, hoists one bag into the overhead above our seats with great difficulty.
"That won't close," the flight attendant tells him dryly.
He tries to close it.
It won't close.
She raises her eyebrows.
The line of passengers behind him is getting antsy, waiting to get to their seats.
"Maybe he can turn it sideways," I say.
The flight attendant shrugs.
The boy's confused, paralyzed.
I rearrange other people's stuff. Turn his bag. All is well. Except he still has two huge bags to go.
"Here." I take his second bag, stuff it into another overhead.
"Can we get to our seats now?" the lady behind me says.
The flight attendant clucks.
The boy takes the third bag and shoves it down by his feet. Of course, it doesn't fit.
"They're going to make you put it up top," I say. The line of passengers is passing, scowling, shaking their heads.
"Nah. It's okay," he says.
"No. I mean, they'll make you."
I don't want to be naggy and he's busy answering his brother's million questions, so I start reading.
A few minutes later, the plane starts moving down the runway. The flight attendant scans the aisles, missing the bag.
Just as we're in final take-off mode, she spots it. "That bag has to go on top," she says. She offers no guidance.
I get up. The boy tries to get the bag out, but it's so wedged in, he can't budge it. There's something awkward about him that I can't quite pinpoint.
"That can't be there," she repeats.
I tell the boy to move aside. I wiggle and pull and finally yank the bag out. The people in the row in front of us look back, annoyed. Another flight attendant has found an empty overhead for the bag. I carry the bag to it and stuff it in. It fits (barely).
"You're very nice to carry someone else's bag," the first flight attendant says when I return to my seat.
"He's a child," I growl at her. I'm annoyed, but I also don't want to embarrass the poor kid any more than he's been embarrassed. I'm thinking of my own kids, who probably couldn't take a bus by themselves, much less take a little brother on a cross-country flight.
I sit back down.
"Thanks," he says softly.
"No worries." I start reading again.
Without a word, the boy turns his hands palm up. On his right hand, he has a train track of stitches snaking from his index finger, down his palm, onto his wrist.
"Wow," I say.
"Popped two stitches already," he tells me.
"I bet. Those bags are heavy."
He smiles an adorable, crooked smile. "Nah. They're fine."
He's right of course. The bags are fine. He's fine. His little brother, already asleep, is fine.
It's everyone else on the plane who's got a problem.
Causes Diana Holquist Supports