On a flight home to Hangzhou yesterday I wanted to take a photo of the other passengers, but I was a little too self-conscious, as it would have been completely obvious, and in the context have appeared pretty strange.
As is customary here, no sooner had our wheels hit the tarmac, than the sound of seatbelts unbuckling violently could be heard throughout the cabin. Mobile phones went on, despite warnings not to power them up until inside the terminal, and I fully expected people to stand up and begin moving around during the somewhat long taxi to the gate (miraculously, this time they did not). The picture I wanted to capture was during the usual crush that occurs when 300-odd passengers (or a mostly full plane-excluding yours truly) has moved from it’s seats, gotten it’s luggage ready and stands in the aisle. And waits. Without fail this occurs, and I could probably count on one hand the amount of passengers left sitting at this juncture. It’s usually just foreigners.
I myself cannot get used to the crush, the suffocation, the violation of personal space that occurs in these instances. It’s a common thing here, for a crowd to form (often times for what appears to be the stupidest reason, or no reason at all). The little old lady who had been sitting next to me on the aisle seat was almost pulled up off her feet in the squash. I could see her tiny body listing diagonally, her little hand straining to clutch at the large box that appeared to house a toy dump-truck. If her feet left the ground I would not have been surprised. She was as thin as a prepubescent 10 year old girl, and about the same height. How she had borne children at all is a little mystifying. When I imagined the recipient of the gift playing with it briefly before losing interest, I felt a bit sad. I hope that wasn’t the case. She had cradled that box between her knees all the way from Shenzhen.
So bearing in mind that oftentimes instructions are ignored in these instances, and that I have seen several people struggling with the toilet doors on flights recently, this really comes as no surprise.
I so often see mishaps here as a result of pure impatience, too. There is this lovely level of obliviousness that occurs here – almost as if they think, ‘if I wish hard enough, it will be so’. YANK. Then out pops the escape slide. And the person who did it pretends it never happened.