“Lord of the Flies” in mid-air, or: “Smoke ’em if you got ’em”

The rainy, typhoon season causes havoc to the airplane schedules of southern China. This is a story from one such typhoon season. The informant, who happens to be married to me, vouches for its authenticity.

The China Southern Airlines evening flight bound for Zhuhai started easily enough with a business-as-usual safety demonstration and meal service. The flight was chock full of business people headed from the factories and migrant labor force of greater-Shanghai to the factories and migrant labor force of Guangdong Province.

As the plane made its way south, turbulence increased and fasten seatbelt signs flickered on. The plane circled Zhuhai Airport for some time before being re-directed to Guangzhou. Annoyed, but still reasonable, passengers drank an extra beer and dosed off dreaming of golf.

After circling Guangzhou the plane was okayed for return to Zhuhai. Rows of businessmen with dyed black hair sighed with relief and jumped up to relieve themselves before landing. By this point, turbulence had caused a few misses and the WC’s floor and lower walls were sticky and fragrant with urine.

Nearing the anticipated landing in Zhuhai, the weather kicked up again, causing more disgusting bathroom misses and (to the utter annoyance of all passengers) the plane being sent back to Guangzhou.

This is the point when the thin line between civilization and savagery broke down.

Seatbelt signs were ignored and toilets became shockingly unusable.

The “no smoking” rules were unilaterally voided by passengers and most of the plane lit-up as if on cue.

Flight attendants, powerless to stop the plane-wide anarchy, did their best to maintain a professional air in the face of complete mid-air mutiny.

20 responses to ““Lord of the Flies” in mid-air, or: “Smoke ’em if you got ’em”

  1. Ack!… I just shuddered after reading your line about the toilet: “By this point, turbulence had caused a few misses and the WC’s floor and lower walls were sticky and fragrant with urine.”

      • Hahahah!… 🙂 No Jen, I managed to keep my green tea down, but barely! BTW, I really like your rotating banner photos, are those something new, or have I just noticed them? In anycase, congrats on your stellar review on HKBR! I concur and certainly think your blog is 2 standard deviations above the mean 🙂

      • You’re too kind! I added a few new pics to the header so it’s probably more obvious that they rotate. I’m back from a lovely week in Hangzhou and will probably add another soon.

  2. Had to laugh again. A few years ago I witnessed a minor riot on a plane that had been delayed for over four hours – with us sitting on the runway the entire time! Eventually the group over powered the flight attendants and demanded to get off. I had a meeting in Beijing the next morning so I meekly sat there and wondered what would happen. I eventually landed in Beijing at 3am and made it to my 9am meeting. Business travel, ick.

    • Good idea, so long as we Americans reciprocate by keeping the overly-loud, ice-demanding US business travelers back at home and out of Hangzhou (where I just spent a week over-hearing their hotel buffet breakfast demands).

  3. Well that was fun…..
    My you sure have a wonderful storytelling form and I loved it! Thanks! From now on I will certainly watch how much I drink while in flight. I don’t want to be the person to have to follow a “misser”.

  4. Pingback: Smoking: a tale of two China’s | Expat Lingo·

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