When you work with the public for two decades you start to notice patterns in how people do things. Take doing something very small like handing something to a passenger on a plane, it sounds simple right? Two hands reach out to a non verbalized but mutually agreed upon space and the transaction takes place. Simple. I have learned that some things are just not as simple as they seem.
Take the passenger with tyrannosaurusrex arms - Their elbows apparently do not extend, they are permanently bent at their sides. They may or may not have limp wrists at the end of their forearms which results in a look of confusion as to how they are going to grasp their colorfully packaged treat or tasty beverage from your perfectly outstretched arm.
The Tapper. This person is ready, this person knows what he wants and he wants YOU to set HIS drink on HIS tray. He figures, he's on the aisle, you are close enough. Why bother with that whole handing it over hullabaloo? He gives you the "Set it right here sweetie" look and taps his tray.
The perpetually surprised passenger. This person is surprised by the question itself and/or surprised you are handing something to them even if it is something they JUST ordered. This person almost always has their tray table loaded up with crap or is holding a book and has a hard time figuring out how to save their page AND grab the drink. This part is secretly fun to watch because if it is a magazine and they haven't made the appropriate adjustment to their area, it inevitably falls to the floor where retrieving it is next to impossible with their "surprise" drink they ordered now on their tray.
The clueless passenger, cousin to the surprised passenger. This passenger has witnessed you ask the other people in their row if they would like something to drink, sometimes multiple times but when it is time for their turn, they are clueless as to what you are trying to ask. Blink blink. Stare. Me: "I wanted to know what the people next to you wanted to drink but you….. Tell me about yourself." They also do not see their drink coming even though you've handed two drinks to the other people in their row first. Sometimes they're actually engrossed in watching the other two people enjoy their refreshing beverage while you hold theirs precariously in front of them willing it to be turbulent. Come on, just one good bump.
The fumbler. When handing this person their drink, while reaching for it he hits it in such a way that it spills on his own damn self. Which is invariably followed up by a glare. Yes, it was my fault. I'm sorry, (I'm sorry you a such a dufus). Just to be clear, if I wanted to spill on any of you, at any time, I could. Even if you didn't order anything.
The indecisive passenger. When you ask if they would like something to drink, they ponder. Their face scrunches up, they look up as if the answer is written on the top of the fuselage, they suck their teeth and then finally say "Well I don't know. What do you have?" In my mind I am screaming a myriad of things back "A MENU! NOT A LOT OF PATIENCE! ARE YOU EVEN THIRSTY??!!" but out loud I say "What do you normally drink on a daily basis and I will see if I have that?" Then they say "I'll have water." Really? This is what you pondered on? Water? How long did it take you to get dressed this morning?
And what is with Mr. Shakes-a-lot? He never sits on the aisle. Why Mr. Shakes-a-lot? Why? There are ways to avoid this, ask for it in the can with a straw, get a lid, ask for only half a glass, take a hint from The Tapper…. tap your tray table.
How about when someone asks for the can they ALWAYS have to mime the can part?! What is this? Charades? Are we playing a game here because I have a few hand gestures I can give you too.
Even serving a snack can be challenging….
First you have the skeptical passenger. The one who eyes the small shiny packages with a look of disdain mixed with concern. What could these uniformed ambassadors of the sky possibly want to give me? They cock their head, squint their eyes and try to read the package while it dangles in front of them, not quite committing to taking it. Is it poison? is it acid? Is it cat feces? Yup. It's cat feces. You win, NOW TAKE IT DAMN IT or don't, I could care less.
On the flip side, you have the comedian. While handing out the snack he says (and it is always a he) "l ordered the steak". Hahahahahaha chuckle chuckle. Riiiiiight. Up until this point, I don't believe I've actually made the mistake of rolling my eyes in front of these good-natured-but-socially-inept-jokesters. However, I foresee the need to jam my fingers in my eyeballs to physically restrain the rolling one day.
The pupa. This passenger is completely cocooned in their blanket or backwards coat like a straitjacket. When you come by, they have great difficulty finding and freeing their own arms to reach out. They wiggle and squirm. That is okay Houdini, I'll come back.
The waver. This person gets what air travel is about…. TRANSPORTATION. They have procured for themselves ahead of time a beverage, reading material and something to eat. They don't care what you have to offer or that it is free. They are strictly catching a ride from A to Z. Just one more thing though… Bless you, I think you are awesome but this isn't a movie theater…. take your newspaper, coffee cup and bagel wrapper with you when you leave or acknowledge one of the 42 times we go by you collecting trash. Mmmmmmkay?! Thanks.
Side note: speaking of trash… why must you grab the edge of the bag and slam dunk it in like it is the biggest feat you've accomplished today? Seriously, why?
The favor. This one is tricky. This person doesn't want what you have to offer but it's free. So at first she says no but then instantaneously regrets her decision, rolls her eyes, clucks her tongue, does that weird circular wrist "give it to me" thing and sighs "fine". FYI sister, you don't have to take it and save the drama for your mama. You probably don't need the extra calories anyway.
Or how about the passenger so engrossed in the game/book/assignment/work related activity that they don't register your presence nor the 4 times you ask them if they want their colorfully packaged treat or tasty beverage until you have moved a row or two and then start waving frantically because you skipped them. You purposely skipped them.
The catcher. These people hold their hands out into a bowl formation hoping you will just drop them in, trick or treat style. Maybe they don't want me touching them. I am fine with that, I don't want to touch them. I've seen what you do with your fingers when you think no one is watching. By the way, you are in public, someone is ALWAYS watching and…. ew. For these people I like to challenge their catching skills by either dropping their treats from an unusually high height, tossing the treats underhand, around the back or spiking it volleyball style … 2 points and the crowd goes w-i-l-d!
Finally, why is it the person with the least amount of abdominal control sits at the window seat? This person wedges themselves in to the window seat so when you try to hand them something, their outstretched arm barely extends past the middle seat. It takes all I have not to scream like one of those ridiculous infomercial trainers "USE YOUR CORE! ENGAGE THOSE ABDOMINALS! You can do it……. REACH!"