What happens when you cable tie a drunken idiot to his seat?
The large Asian man stood up from his seat and began abusing the other passengers somewhere around 14,000 feet in the air between Zurich and Dubai. I didn’t notice him at first. I was in a window seat right at the back of the plane, and finally I had settled in to a decent film. Then the lady beside me tapped me on the forearm.
I wondered what she wanted. Personal space was at a premium in these squishy little seats, and she was intruding. I pulled my headphones down around my neck and looked at her. She pointed to the other side of the plane. “Look!” she whispered. “I think he’s drunk.” A sea of heads all faced the far side of the plane, where an overweight and middle-aged Asian man stood in the aisle, gesticulating and yelling obnoxiously. I took my headphones off and paused the inflight entertainment.
“Fucka you!” he yelled.
It was difficult to discern who exactly the man was yelling at. Everyone around him was shrivelled in their seat and staring into the headrest in front. Others further afield dared to sneak an occasional glance, and the man continued unencumbered in his tirade. Finally, a passenger a few rows in front took a stand. He turned stood confronted the man.
“Mate, how about you get back in your seat, and shut the bloody hell up,” he said.
I was surprised, and proud, to hear the intervenor was an Aussie. Typically, it should be the other way around, and if this was a Jetstar flight from Perth to Bali I’m certain it would have it been.
The Asian man stopped in his tracks. He threw his hands down by his side, and even in the mid-flight darkness I could feel his face burning red with rage. He shuffled closer. Now he had a target for his wayward outrage.
“Fucka you!” he yelled. “Nobody speak to me like that. Fucka you!”
He began gesticulated more violently than ever, and stumbled forward to get at the Aussie. Just then two air hostesses arrived at the back of the plane. They were just in time. They weaved their way in between the Asian and the Aussie, inserting their petite frames beneath the Asian man’s swaying bulk. They tried to calm him and asked him to return to his seat. The man towered over the hostesses and reached at the Aussie.
“Fucka you!” he yelled. “Fucka you!”
The lady beside me grabbed at my arm in fright.
“Oh, my goodness!” she said. “They’ll never stop him!”
I reassured her that everything would be ok. I wasn’t so sure.
Then the backup arrived. It comprised of five other flight attendants, including two burly male stewards and a stern and plump Australian hostess, who formed the front line of defence. The plump woman began berating the man.
“Sir, you need to calm down,” she said. “I’m warning you, Sir, get back in your seat.”
The Asian man kept yelling.
“Sir, this is your final chance,” she said.
The Asian man lurched forward, and as he did, the hostess stepped out of the way and the two stewards grabbed the man by the shoulders. They lifted him off his feet and marched him back to his seat, and the Asian man’s legs flailed in the air.
“Get off me!” he yelled. “Stop touching me!”
The stewards plonked him in his chair. One restrained him while the other steward rifled around in his own pockets. I heard the zips of two cable ties, and the entire back of the plane began to cheer and applaud. The attendants filed back down the aisle and the Asian man groaned, arrested in his seat. I put my headphones back on and returned to my movie.
But the drama was far from over.
A few hours later, I was woken from my sleep by a hostess tapping me on the shoulder. I jolted awake. The back of the plane was empty and smelt of shit. I heard the Asian man groaning. The hostess wore an embarrassed smile.
“Uh, excuse me, Sir. You might want to move down the front of the plane,” she said.
I blinked the sleep from my eyes.
“Huh? Why?” I said.
“Well, uh, in protest, the man over there has… umm…”
She searched for the most respectful term of description.
“He has defecated in his own trousers.”
The hostess stifled a giggle. I unbuckled my seatbelt and followed her down the aisles, all the way to a business class upgrade. In the background, the man groaned with misery and pleaded for the toilet, more alcohol, anything to numb the pain of being strapped to his own shit. His cries fell on deaf ears. He remained there for the next six hours, yelling, moaning, pleading, until the armed guards waiting at the Dubai airport escorted him away to a holding cell toilet.