The turbulence on the plane makes my skin creep. I hate airplanes, motion that I can’t control. Two lanes down I see the back of a punk’s rainbow colored mohawk. What makes someone decide to get a haircut like that? The air hostess is giving him some advice about transferring at the airport. He’s transferring, he wouldn’t be allowed in Doha looking like that.
The air hostess lurches against her trolley. Her face contorts as she pushes against it and rolls her ankle. She’s the one I watch. I like the jerking motion she makes, it’s not me moving. She stores her trolley and comes straight at me.
“The seatbelt sign is on” – she points to the ceiling where the light is blinking.
I frown, “It’ll turn off soon”.
“The protocol is that you must wear the seat belt.” She buckles me up, this time my skin crawls for other reasons.
She walks down to where the punk is. She smiles at him and makes small talk. The bitch must like younger men. I haven’t been able to check her out, as much as the others, she always has her curtains drawn.
The smell that comes from the toilet is intolerable. It permeates the entire cabin.
The turbulence has subsided, seatbelt sign switches off, just like I said it would.
“You can take off the seatbelt now”, she says moving her trolley past me. She wants control, but she’s the one moving.
We’ll be in Doha in less than an hour anyway. I know where they stay. The air hostesses. They are all housed in an apartment across from mine. I watch them go about their week. I used to use binoculars, but now I’ve bought a tiny drone. No bigger than a fly. They’re illegal in Qatar.
“Would you like anything to drink?” She pushes her trolley, and locks it in place right beside me. She has red lips. Her eyelashes are curly and fake. The mascara caked on peculiarly. She’s at the end of her shift, I can tell by the bags under her eyes – a sign of dehydration.
“Yes, a gin and tonic.”
“No – cucumber, and don’t be cheap with the gin either.”
She pours it out and plunks it in front of me, forgetting to smile. She’ll be sorry about that.
The pilot’s voice is heard over the speakers, we’ll be landing shortly. An advertisement starring overpaid Hollywood actors comes on about the 2022 World Cup, and how wonderful Qatar airways is. Somehow they manage to weave all these elements into forced comic instruction during take-off and landing.
When we land the passengers applaud. Irritating. The chances of getting killed in a plane crash are less than being killed by a terrorist, I feel my smirk fade from my face as I focus in on the air hostess who smiles her fake smile and thanks everyone for flying with her. She was the one moving. I hate phoniness, even more than I hate turbulence. I am the last to get up and as I walk past her she doesn’t smile, or thank me. She’ll be sorry for that.
Making my way to the immigration counter, my bum bag containing my passport and the tiny drone, my head filled with gin. She’ll be sorry.