My seatmate from Sydney to Los Angeles was an odd bird. I still cannot figure her out…
I’m not much of a talker on flights, short or long. I’ll generally engage my seatmate if I am first engaged, but I’m not someone who will ever talk your ear off.
But I will always say hello. Just a short greeting, especially if I have to climb over you to get to my window seat.
My seatmate was a woman of about 50 years old. She was sitting in her seat staring off into space when I boarded. I said hello and she did not respond.
Flight attendants came around to offer sparkling wine, orange juice, or water from a tray (or any beverage by request) and she simply pointed at the glass of water.
Later, when a flight attendant came by to take lunch orders, she simply pointed to the portobello mushroom choice and said nothing else.
After takeoff, when asked what she wanted to drink, she simply pointed to her water bottle.
Still not a word from her.
I wondered if perhaps she was speech-impaired. She made no attempt at using sign language, but then again, she did not have to.
Lunch service began. She took a couple bites of the food and then stopped eating. When a flight attendant walked by, she pointed to it and shook her head. The flight attendant asked if she was finished and she nodded yes.
But when the dessert came around, she eagerly enjoyed an ice cream sundae, pointing to the ingredients she wanted instead of vocalizing them.
Fast-forward three hours.
A flight attendant walks by and the woman stopped her and said,
“Can I please have a Diet Coke?”
Not only did she speak, she had a nice Australian accent!
The flight attendant brought the Diet Coke over and she said, “Thank you.”
And that was it.
She slept through breakfast, but woke up about 30 minutes before landing. A flight attendant noticed she was awake and asked if she wanted coffee. She nodded, but said nothing.
Upon landing, she got up, grabbed her bag, and walked toward the door. No goodbye, of course.
She reminded me of the silent flight attendant I had on United several years ago. He was also silent, in a very annoying way. I won’t make assumptions about why this woman was silent, but it did make for a fairly odd encounter.
> Read More: Silent Treatment from the Purser
I wouldn’t read too much into her silence. I think, she might have:
1/ Speech impairment (I have a family member who does display some of the characteristics that you called out). you called out this already or
2/ Asperger’s syndrome (folks with this symptom) don’t interact with strangers or
3/ Going through depression or a family tragedy or
4/ some thing else around emotional issues
I am no Doctor but basing my guesses purely on my personal experience.
Keep writing good articles like always..
Maybe she didn’t have anything to say. I’m more interested in why you were so busy minding her business. It’s annoying to me when people want to presume that something’s wrong with you just because you prefer to keep to yourself.
Chill out Victoria. I wasn’t criticizing her, just wondering why she chose to be silent.
People go through a lot of things in life. Perhaps she lost a relative, friend, family member… you don’t know. I’ve seen people cry at the boarding area.
Why did you write this? Who do you think you are?
Maybe English wasn’t even her native language. I know some Scandinavians who claim to struggle or get exhausted speaking English despite understanding a fair amount of it and having a British, Australian or even American accent when speaking a brief sentence or two when more or less forced to do so. And in some cases, this wasn’t just a claim without substantiation, it was truly the case.
Separate to that kind of situation, I’ve also run into people who speak American or British or Australian accented English to such great level that most people from the relevant countries wouldn’t realize they are foreigners whose only connection to the English-speaking country of relevance was via TV/movies/computer stuff and some school stuff. It doesn’t mean they don’t get tired dealing with a foreign language.
At least you had the self awareness, which so many people lack, to realize it and let it be. I can imagine that woman getting stuck with somebody who just wanted to yak her ear off.
Sore throat? I’m usually unusually quiet when it hurts to talk.
Odd yes. But I can think of far worse things on a plane than a quiet seatmate that keeps to herself.
Once I visited Budapest and did not say a word. The language was strange. I arrived in the early evening. I ate my own food and slept like a homeless person, no hotel. I had my own water.
The next morning, I looked around Budapest and stayed until after lunch. Then I left Hungary. I hadn’t eaten in a restaurant.
“Then I left Hungary. I hadn’t eaten in a restaurant.”
I bet you were! 😉
More details of the trip: I had a rental car. That made it easy to be anti-social. The next morning, I got a parking ticket while leaving the car while I explored an area of the city. I couldn’t understand what it said. Later, in the US, I had someone translate it for me. It was more of a warning but no fine.
She kept to herself, what’s the big issue? I nod a lot to indicate if want or don’t want something.
He did not say its an issue and why do you take offence of it. He was just sharing an observation.
Huh? She didn’t trouble anyone at all. Not you, the passenger, not even any FA. Why does it matter? I’m confused….
Is it slow nowdays at the office?
“….fairly odd encounter.” a.k.a. me on almost any flight or even a train from Begen to Oslo.
In a world of ‘listen to me’ silence is surely odd.