Sunday, September 10

TRAVELLING with the Yanks

When it comes to air travel, the only thing I share with my fellow Americans is my passport.
I do not share their attitude and I certainly do not share their dress sense.

But before any of you get all bent out of shape, I not referring to YOU, my brothers and sisters of the chosen tribe, I am referring instead to the run of the mill, shop at sears, Budweiser guzzling, toolbox in the trunk, WASP American.
And that’s just the women.

Anyhoo, let’s start with the menfolk.
The average American guy who travels during the summer months looks completely out of proportion. He wears baggy shorts until his knees and his belt is secured around his hips just to accommodate his protruding gut, so he ends up looking like, ‘Torso Man’.
If aliens (interplanetary, not Mexicans- they’re here already) would land on our planet and take a gander at these guys, they would assume it was their physiology. But then, they’d look at the women and be confounded completely.

The average American woman travelling in the summer months, also wears shorts however hers are cinched in at the waist, begging the question ‘is she pregnant?’
9 times out of 10, when the woman in question is either 8 or 80 the question itself becomes moot.

What does matter, though, is that these people look strange in their shorts with their white socks (or worse- no socks) and they are just screaming for someone to photograph them for the ‘what not to wear’ section of a fashion rag.

You’re going to have to trust me on this guys, I really did a lot of research.

Then there is their attitude to air travel.
Once the average Joe or Jo-Ann gets their boarding pass with their seat number on it, the seat is officially THEIRS. They OWN that seat. When the flight ends, they would actually rip it out of the floor and shlep it with them if they could.

The reason why this is so bizarre is because in their everyday non-travelling lives , these people are NICE people!

They bake cakes for their church cake sales, they lobby congress to give equal rights to Schnauzers, and they sew wheelchairs slipcovers for the handicapped.
And that’s just the men.

But all that changes when they step on a plane.
It’s almost as if the cabin pressure goes straight to their heads.

Suddenly they become possessive. It is their seat and their overhead locker space and heaven forbid if you request them to shift or move.

*They don’t care if you are separated from your four year old.
*They don’t care if your kid needs to use the facilities every five minutes.
*They don’t care if you have had two replacement knee surgeries due to gangster related gunshot wounds which are turning sceptic and therefore need an aisle seat.
They ain’t movin’.

As far as their attitude to travelling with kids, it’s very simple:
The very same people who would ordinarily rip out their own kidneys with their bare hands and give it to you should you need it (Chas Vesholom) would sooner have your guts for garters if they hear one tiny ‘peep’ from your kids on an airplane.

Then there is the armrest issue.
Armrest is appropriately named because it is etymologically derived from the words; arm and wrest. This is because arm-wresting is what you end up doing whenever you travel economy or cargo class with the rest of the sardines in the back of the plane. If your seatmate is a guy with sweaty arms and arm hair like an afghan you will relinquish control of the armrest, albeit grudgingly. Unfortunately, that seems never to be enough for these guys and they slowly try to spread and spread with each breath (cue theme tune to Jaws; ta dum, ta dum, ta dum dum dum ) until they are halfway in your seat as well.

I have a tried and true method in dealing with this.
I look backwards at my experience as a Monsey Jew and think,” “Travelling, Monsey….. Monsey Bus!!!” That’s right- I recall my experiences on the infamous Monsey Bus and I erect a Mechitza!
I take the in-flight magazine and I put it upright by my armrest and push on it until the evil invading arm recedes with its thumb between its fingers.

If that doesn’t work, I resort to plan ‘B’: Sharp objects.

My dear, fabulous, lovely Americans- hear me loud and hear me clear:
You want your seat, that's fine.
You’re just not getting’ mine too.


At 1:19 AM, Blogger the only way i know said...

What about the passengers who take down their toiletry bags every 10 minutes from the overhead do their faces - keeping the toilets occuppied for like half the flight time?

...And that's just the men!


At 2:00 AM, Blogger The Next Contender said...

No sahrp objects allowed on planes any longer - so you'll have to stick tot eh Mechitza or find another alternative!

At 2:30 AM, Blogger Nemo said...

Well, before critising others, we must always look at ourselves. I think frum Jews are the most embarassing travelers...

... and it's NOT just the men:

1} Tallis and Teffilin on the plane, middle of the aisle

2} Minyanim in the middle of the night on all El Al or major European airlines

3} The five "lap-children"

4} The eight suitcases

5} The choice of luggage: decrepit 30 yr. old leather or laundry bags

And, last, but certainly not least, who can forget...

6} Kosher Meals- Urgh, all the layer of plastic and foil that's got nowhere to put it. It's only a matter of time before the clutter on the tray knocks over your orange juice onto the unknowing gentile sitting next to you.

At 3:36 AM, Blogger ~ Sarah ~ said...

That's funny. It's when people turn into 'tourist' or switch to their vacation mode, everything needs to be about accommodating them which can, unfortnately, make holiday time more stressful than regular days!

And those shorts (men and women) are hideous! They should have fashion screening at airports, hotels and holidays places so we don't have to look at these people as we try to enjoy our time away.

Thanks for the laughs as usual :)

At 4:42 AM, Blogger cruisin-mom said...

kasamba: I'm ROTFLMAO as usual. You forgot the person who claims THEIR seat next to you, and then wants to talk your ear off and become your new best friend. (and all you want to do is sleep).

At 5:57 AM, Blogger trixies86 said...

I have always gotten fairly pleasant seat mates who are happy to accomidate you (even if you have the window seat and have to go to the bathroom 8-10 times during the 5 hour flight. 3 of those times with a cup). although I don't travel with children, so that should help.
and to nemo, I really don't think we travel like that at all. (if you don't count being stuck in middle of shemoneh esray when your seatmate decides they have to go to the bathroom), and most frum people I know have very nice luggage.
or maybe its just cause I'm a sweet looking girl that I don't get nasty looks.

At 7:43 AM, Blogger Mia said...

Hilarious post, had to laugh about the arm-wrestling, so true. I hate it the most though when people try to make conversation and ask me questions as if I signed up for a survey! And I hate the touching knee, specially the men seem to have the need to sit with wide open legs. On so many flights I just end up being squeezed to the window or sitting half in the aisle :D

At 3:43 PM, Blogger kollel mama said...

Hilarious post!!
Nemo- Regarding tallis and tefillin on the plane-that really can't be avoided, although most rabbonim say that it is a chillul hashem, and you SHOULD daven b'yichidus,BUT, on ELAL,they know and understand, so it's a different story, although it's still not nice. Regarding five lap children-an adult is allowed only one child under age 2, supposedly. Can't imagine how they get five on then.
I also haven't noticed any difference between "Jewish luggage" and non Jewish.

At 4:42 PM, Blogger kasamba said...

Too funny!

Heels work wonders!

You were on my flight?

LOL! I loooove the idea of fashion screening!

Yup!! Those are annoying!!!

You ARE a sweet girl!

Too true- 21 questions is not fun on a plane!!!

Kollel Mama:

At 8:11 PM, Blogger Sara with NO H said...

this was so cute and I can totally relate. hey I think the kosher meals are fun. even goyim order them now

At 8:58 PM, Blogger Jessica said...

This was absolutely hilarious and so true. Next time I fly, I'm definitely erecting my own mechitzah.

At 10:39 PM, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Such kvetching. Oy.

At 3:08 AM, Blogger Scraps said...

Hey kasamba, while you were in the States, did you have the opportunity to fly JetJew?

At 4:55 AM, Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Very funny, I sure do see you did your research lol.

At 9:24 AM, Blogger Chasidishe Shaigitz said...

"I not referring to YOU,"

Lucky you, you saved yourself there ;)

Fun post, I shared this post as well as the last one with some friends and they loved it, great writing and so creative!

At 2:29 PM, Blogger Bonnie B said...

OK if you see me ont he plane, I swear I am not pregnant and you'd better hand over that armrest because it is rightfully mine and this is MY seat and I will get up 80 times if I want to--

Oh and by the way those are my kids staring at you, but please can you control your kids because I am very important and need to rest-- after I tell you how important I am that is-- Can I put my book on your tray during snack time because I don't have enough room?

Thanks for the laugh Kasamba

At 4:40 PM, Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Kasamba: I think you need to travel business class more often!

Or, if you're lucky, I usually only travel on ELAL to and from Israel...where you really feel at home on the plane.

Reminds you that "Heimish" is not to far off from "Beheimish."

At 4:43 PM, Blogger Limey2001 said...

WOW! i've travelled 100's of times adn i am sensory about "MY SPACE" and had my share of flying horror stories but i NEVER had to deal with these yanks!! they must know i'm coming......
(they must not let them on BA)

At 10:48 PM, Blogger kasamba said...

Sara with no H:
Thanks- You know why they order them?
It's cuz they come before everyone elses!!!

Yep, mechitzas the way to go!

Jack's Shack:
If not here, where?

Are you serious????

Thank you for noticing!

Chassideshe Sheigetz:
Oh, that is the nicest compliment!!!

LOL!!!! I know!!!!

I DO crave to sit near the pilot!!!!

Is that before or after the beverage service????

At 5:37 AM, Blogger JewishBiFemme said...

Hilarious post! I can relate!!

At 10:04 AM, Blogger student said...

Lol! Ive been on some looooooong flight recently..and i can fully empathise..
Though ive gota say that even tho im not the biggest fan of Americans (present company excluded-of course) its not only them! Having said that i havent ever travelled on a flight with a lot of Americans...
The way forward is sleeping pills ...drug urself n crash out-then nothings gona bother u!!

At 2:39 PM, Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

I notice everything lol.

At 3:17 PM, Blogger exsemgirl said...


"...have your guts for garters" - Heeeey you using an old English sayin like that? You have finally become an honourary Brit!! :P

At 5:38 PM, Blogger Scraps said...

Dead serious, kasamba. It's the nickname for JetBlue, because so many Jews fly that airline.

At 6:00 PM, Blogger Mata Hari said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 6:02 PM, Blogger Mata Hari said...

don't mean to quibble, but beer guzzling/shopping at sears and wasp, do not go together. opposite categories.

At 8:17 AM, Blogger kasamba said...


I wouldn't even mind being put under some form of 'animated suspension' for the duration of the flight. You know, like the great Walt Disney!

Indeed you do!

I'm practically a native!!!

Do they have an onboard sheitelmacher???

Mata Hari:
So sue me;)

At 2:58 PM, Blogger Pretty Green Eyes said...

LOL as always you crack me up! But Nemo is 100% right...I find the frum jews the worst..a million kids running around..and yeah on the laps and they don't ever listen to the flight attendants (gotta be politically correct!)'s really embrassing cuz they look Jewish and give us a bad name.

About the shorts and shoes- well put! SICK! LOL

At 3:51 PM, Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

Sooo witty

In my travels...I'd love meeting Americans...and their goofy smiles..
On trains packed with stern faced Germans..or depressed's like a breath oif fresh hear to suddenly hear a rip roaring laughter than can only becoming from the gut of an American tourist...

At 6:22 PM, Blogger kasamba said...

Pretty Green Eyes:
OOOH! You probably travelled with me!!!!
Flight attendants were always handing my kids back to me by their armpits and saying, "Uh, I believe THIS is yours?"
To which I would respond, "Nope, never saw him before."

That's so true- there is nothing like the laugh of an American!!!

At 4:26 AM, Blogger workingema said...

uh oh, was that me you saw, stretched out in my seat, enjoying the movie, and the KOSHER MEAL (nemo)? when I fly, I just loooove to feel at home, otherwise... well, I would have to make use of the airsick bags- and I usually miss....
well, which one will it be?

Sounds like you had a very 'nice' flight... hope the next one's better..!

At 6:52 AM, Blogger the sabra said...

sharp objects? what are you, some kinda sissy? what happened to LIQUIDS?? yes im talking about perfume and gel and hand sanitizer and starbucks coffee-the real evil stuff. o and mascara too

At 9:16 AM, Blogger RR said...

Love the homemade mechitza LOL!!

At 7:07 AM, Blogger HilaHoney said...

OMG!!! soooo funny!!! Sad but true, too...Every time my family travels, my Mom and I have to pre-approve my Dad's outfits because otherwise he'd go around looking like a combination of Jimmy Buffet and Mr.Magoo (Hawaiian or Madras shirt, Panama Jack hat with waaaay too many pins, jean/khaki shorts, a leather belt with so many gizmos you'd think he was Inspector Gadget, and socks practically up to his knees with docksiders or worse yet, tiva sandals!!!)

Anyway, I love my Dad dearly, but Papa Hila just doesn't get fashion. We do the best we can to reign him in, but sometimes he just flies under our radar...Oh well...*sigh*...

As I've never been on an El Al flight (or any flight with Orthodox Jews that I was aware of), I can't testify to the annoyance level of flights like that, but I certainly know about the American travelers...I think my most memorable flight was one to Orlando where there was an Asian woman in the aisle seat next to me who fell asleep as soon as we took off. Not a problem, right? Wrong...Her head kept bobbing up and down like a bobble head, only it kept landing on my shoulder just about every 10-15 seconds, which was highly annoying. As if this weren't bad enough, about an hour into the flight she fell asleep with her head resting on my shoulder!!!! I didn't know what to do...I hadn't spoken to her at all when we boarded the plane, and I was pretty sure she had taken something to knock herself out because she was out cold, so I just sat there for the remaining 3 hours with a crazy Asian woman's head on my shoulder...awesome...*sigh*

At 6:49 PM, Blogger kasamba said...

I think your dad would get along great with mine!!!!

Better luck with travellers next flight!

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