I was standing in the gate area waiting to board my BA flight from London to Basel on Friday when a man approached me and started talking. Let’s call him Nigel.
Nigel showed me his bag from Dixons Travel, an electronics store in Heathrow.
“I’ve got an [Amazon] Alexa.”
I nodded at him.
“I spent all night talking to her at my mate’s house yesterday. She’s evil.”
I responded, “Evil? How is she evil?”
“She just starts laughing. Then she says she is going to kill me.”
I nodded at him. He was a disheveled man, maybe in his late 30’s or early 40’s, wearing a very heavy rain jacket and clutching only his shopping bag and a transparent folder containing his British passport, boarding pass, and what I assumed to be his itinerary.
“So what do you think about Trump? That’s guy a wanker!”
I smiled and attempted to answer the question, but Nigel interrupted with several random musings.
“Why don’t the Americans just murder that guy in North Korea? He humiliated Trump!”
“Britain is so unsafe because of the Muslims. I cannot even go to Manchester or Birmingham any more.”
“Did you know there is a secret American space force that is operating above us?”
“The Germans created a weapon in World War II that could have destroyed the world.”
“There are aliens living in the moon. The Americans covered it up. It’s a hollow layer filled with people inside.”
“Why doesn’t the US just nuke everyone in North Korea?”
By that point, I had heard enough. And every time I tried to respond or offer any sort of comment I was interrupted.
I wished him goodbye and announced that I would board the flight.
Small problem…boarding had not begun yet. So I sideways-stepped away…and Nigel followed me.
“The Iraq War was such a wasted opportunity.”
“Did you hear about the Boeing plane that dropped out of the sky? That was the Russians.”
My worst fear was that we were seated next to each other. Thankfully, he was a few rows behind me. During the flight I heard him talking…the entire time…to his poor seat mate.
I don’t think he was drunk and I also don’t think he was mentally ill. Just an odd fellow…that I had the pleasure of listening to for 15 minutes.
Well, he wasn’t wrong about Russian involvement in Malaysia flight 17.
Surprised he was allowed to board.
It’s called White Privilege
On what grounds would he have been denied boarding? Should BA institute personality checks and not allow anyone deemed “odd” to board?
LOL that sounds a bit like one of my crazy cousins – generally harmless.
Shouldn’t that be ‘Mostly Harmless’?
I have no doubt that he drove an Alexa to evil, maniacal laughter after listening to him for 10 hours straight…
Clearly this guy has some sort of mental illness, and I’m not sure that publicly shaming him in an online blog is appropriate. I think that we need to get away from using terminology like ‘nut’ to describe mental illness. It would be great if someone of your influence could lead by example in this regard.
Does he really have a mental illness or he is just one of those odd guys who listens to Alex Jones?
Based on your how your story was relayed, it sounded very possible there is a mental illness issue. I feel that we should try to avoid labels such as ‘nut’ and ‘retarded’.
As Shirly pointed out – the guy SHOULD have been labeled “a nutter, wanker, pillock or twat” – he was British after-all.
That way, Shirley wouldn’t have been triggered, since she’s American and wouldn’t have understood the references, and been forced to troll your otherwise hilarious post.
@Kevin I’m a dual British, Canadian citizen, sorry/not sorry!
Mental illness. What you have described with the sequence of conversations is a flight-of-ideas + tangentiality pattern. One can recreate and simulate this same psychotic thought process artificially by increasing someone’s dopamine levels. Likely has a schizophreniform disorder or other thought disorder with psychotic features.
Ah, at last, a real use for Alexa!
Matthew, in your conclusion you stated that you didn’t think Nigel was “mentally retarded.” Please don’t use the word “retarded” to refer to someone with a disability – it is outdated and offensive.
Which word should I use?
The appropriate term is mentally challenged
You could say that you didn’t think he was “mentally ill” or had an “intellectual disability.”
I took out the word “retard” because I am not trying to stir the pot in any way. But “retard” or “retarded” is the French word meaning slow or delay. I truly don’t understand why it is seen as pejorative.
Thank you. I’m not trying trying to stir the pot either; rather, I’m just trying to bring light to this issue because I have worked with many individuals with disabilities, to whom that word is extremely derogative.
People just can’t accept the truth nowadays, it normally hurts and offends but at least it’s not sugar coated to give a false impression. I’m with Matthew here, a retard is a retard just like a horse is a horse.
My father worked as a psychiatrist his entire career, and the last 35 years of it at a state mental hospital here in Texas. The state hospital system was known then, and still is today, the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. Used in the correct context, “Retardation” is a generic term to refer to mental disabilities.
Seriously, we all need to take a breath and stop finding things to get offended about, especially when the poster clearly meant none.
‘Retard’ is only offensive because of the current slang usage. In the original sense it was a simple statement of fact and no more pejorative than ‘disability ‘.
As for Nigel, it’s never wise to engage with someone whose opening line is “Trump’s a nutter”; although an accurate characterisation, it’s hardly an appropriate way to start a conversation.
I have a well-developed death stare that usually puts such people to flight or silence, including overly chatty seat mates.
Could have early dementia.
A couple years ago, I had a similar situation during a connection in the lounge at CMB. The conversation started normal enough, but went downhill and I just could not shake this guy loose for 4 or 5 hours. I even stated I was going to the restroom, thinking I could make my break at that point; but no such luck as he followed me into the restroom and continued to talk in the adjoining stall. Unfortunately, He was also scheduled on my flight to Riyadh and when he noticed no one was seated next to me, he moved to become the seat mate from hell. He started asking me questions about religion and sexual behavior…two things you REALLY DO NOT discuss in public on a flight to Riyadh (or really, any place else). Then coolest thing happened, the flight attendant must have checked the manifest and came back to insist the man leave and go back to his original seat. I then placed my luggage in the empty seat. He returned after dinner and stood in the aisle continuing to bring up inappropriate subject matter. the flight attendant came back, ordered him back to his seat and asked if she could sit in the empty seat. She told me she could see the discomfort in my face while the man was there and she became my seat mate for the next 2.5 hours. I was shocked by this unsolicited outreach, care, and “protection”. To this day, I regret not asking her to meet after the flight, but I’m pretty cautious going to religious conservative countries.
I’m old enough to remember when the word “retarded” was thrown around as an epithet and insult at school growing up and when immature kids would make fun of the developmentally disabled by using this word. I mean yeah you’re not wrong that the dictionary definition of “retard” would not be incorrect (although referencing the French definition is baffling), but language has a way of evolving. In this case, the historical use of “retarded” as a pejorative epithet is why many people find it offensive or at the least, anachronistic. That shouldn’t be too hard to figure out.