Do you ever find yourself in a situation where a stranger has done something to anger you (cuts you off in traffic, ditches in line, etc) only to calm down later and forgive them (oh…they're probably a good person, just having a bad day)? Then there are those people you run into in your lives that you just know, at the very core, they are nasty people who live miserable lives. Well this is a story about them….the ugly people.
A few years ago, I took a trip to South America. I was traveling with a group and we arrived at the airport many hours before our flight. Everyone in the group split up to their respective airlines and my friend and I hunted for ours, as we were flying back together. The airport system was a bit different than the States because the ticket gates didn’t open until the evening. So, arriving four hours before it opened, naturally we were the first in line and we found our rightful place at the front of a snake of ropes and stanchions.
We had actually heard it was good to be early because the cruises would drop off hundreds of people at once and if you didn't beat them, it could take hours to get through line. Rightly so, about an hour after we got there, a train of older Americans started to pile in behind us in line. I didn't pay much attention, other than to think, wow, this line just got really long.
My friend and I took turns standing in line, going to the bathroom, walking off for food, magazines, searching for illusive internet connections….
Finally, hours after we got there, the ticket agent arrived and started to prep her booth. I ran back over to join my colleague in our spot, awaiting the opening of the ropes. Suddenly, the woman just behind us (one of the younger ones - I'd guess she was in her mid 70s) opened up the ropes in front of her and started to enter the corridor in front of us….and I can see the line of 100 cruise goers about to follow her. I was shocked and my friend's mouth just hung open, so I blurted out, "Excuse me, but we were first in line!" (I'm not a pushy person, but I have become a city girl over the past 15 years and I'm not going to sit back when someone is blatantly cheating us.)
So she says in a thick, east coast accent, "Ohhhh, ohkay princess, if that's what you want, have it your way," and I could hear grumbling from the crowd behind them.
To which I responded "My way? What are you talking about, we were first in line!" and my friend and I butted past them. They rest of the line began to file in behind us.
Well, unfortunately the ticket lady didn't actually open her booth for another 30 minutes and you can only imagine the fun that was about to unfold. My friend and I were making eyes at each other that said "I can't believe that just happened!" and laughing because we were so appalled by the whole situation.
Then Miss Ditchy Pants behind us and her line of minions started openly talking about us. "Oh, they think this is funny? Well, whatever the little princess wants"…. I honestly can't remember all they said, but it was making my skin crawl and they just kept going on, ranting about us. Finally, I couldn't take and turned around and shouted, "What is YOUR PROBLEM!!? We were in line first!"
Have you ever had a group of mean, elderly people in cruise-ware and thick New York accents all start berating you at once? It was a cacophony of voices pouncing on me – they looked like aged cartoon characters – leaning in, seething, spitting angry words at me. My friend was dying. I was trying to direct my voice above them, but it was no use….I was drowning.
Above it all, I somehow deduced that they believed that since I wasn't actually in line when the gate agent arrived, I was the one who was ditching them; therefore they deserved to be first. I was appalled. I hade been in line with my friend for hours, waiting – we were traveling TOGETHER for goodness sakes – I couldn't believe my ears.
They were all yelling at me, one over the next. I finally raised up my hand and said something like, "YOU ARE THE MOST INSANE, RIDICULOUS GROUP OF PEOPLE I HAVE EVEN MET. I AM EMBARRASSED YOU ARE AMERICANS, REPRESNTING OUR COUNTRY. YOUR POOR, POOR TOUR GUIDE. WHAT A MISREABLE LOT HE HAD TO PUT UP WITH….AND (directing it to the ring leader woman) IF I'M THE PRINCESS, THEN HONEY, YOU ARE THE QUEEN"…. and I finally summed up, stuck out my palm making the stop sign and said "I refuse to listen to you" and turned my back to them.
They kept on for another few minutes or so and finally turned back to taunts behind my back.
Then, about 10 uncomfortable minutes later, the guilt kicked in. My emotions were a mess – I couldn't believe this had just happened – I was literally shocked and my blood was still pumping angrily through my body. But I felt bad yelling at them, making a scene. They were seniors…this is not how you treat seniors. Surely they would appeal to reason, right? Maybe there was a real misunderstanding? Plus, I'm a seasoned traveler – this is not how you handle conflicts in the airport, let alone foreign countries.
So, in my own stupidity, I sidled up to Miss Ditchy Pants and said "Look, clearly there was a misunderstanding and I apologize if there was, but I'd like find out what you think went down…"
I don't remember what she said…she was a witch. She looked down at me and made some insincere, degrading comments about how she hoped when I was her age, I didn't get treated like the way I treated her….she wasn't listening to me…it was pointless. I felt dirtier for doing it, and angry at myself for giving in…but still, I thought there had to be a logical reason for this - normal people don't behave this way.
Finally, thank god, the ticket agent open and we moved out of line.
We still had a few hours until our flight so my friend and I got something to eat…and had a big ol' drink and stewed and laughed about the whole ordeal.
Finally, boarding time and I could leave this all behind me. I picked up my bags and got in line and was ready to head home. And then, as I entered the plane, I heard it…the sound of ugly people, three rows ahead of me.