Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Airports, Racebending and Long-legged Jerks

So the lady manning the counter at Gate 6 of Auckland International Airport is a cow. Like a big one. Let me explain.

My brother and I had just spent the previous 29 hours in a kind of quasi-international limbo. Twenty of those hours were spent crammed in DVT-inducing economy class aeroplane seats whilst the remaining nine were spent browsing the three open shops in the international terminals during transit. Thus by the time we reached Auckland from Lima to catch a connecting flight to Melbourne, we were exhausted, grumpy and just wanted to get home. Cue the bitch.

Have you seen the film Meet the Parents? You know that scene near the end where Ben Stiller's character is waiting to board the plane and the lady at the counter is being a cow by not letting him on because she needs to call out each row individually and waits ages even though there's no one else waiting (see above photo)? Well, that's what our lady did. We were assigned to sit in row 12. She calls out for rows 16 to 20 (it's a small plane) to board first. About seven people stand up and queue up to board. There's about seven passengers remaining in the waiting lounge. Ok, fine. She then waits about ten friggin minutes before she decides to call up the next lot. So you'd think that because there's only a few of us left that she'd just ask for the remaining passengers to board. But no, she had to be a bitch. So instead she calls for rows 13 to 15 to board. About two people stand up and head towards the gate. WTH? She waits another ten friggin minutes before she calls for rows 11 and 12. Finally. Hallelujah. We stand up and head towards the gate, sharing exasperated eye rolls with the two remaining passengers who are still waiting to be called. Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come.

As we approached the guy checking the passports, the bitch-lady leaves her counter and walks over to us. She is old with wrinkled, pursed lips and her hair is grey and arranged in a taut coiffe that may have been popular some time in the 1950's. Her uniform is neat and worn to military standards, and you can tell she'd probably been in the aviation business since the Wright Brothers did their first test flight . Anyway, she comes up to us, scrutinises us with these really judgemental, beady eyes, leans in and asks: "Do you speak English?" And no, she didn't say it in a polite, apologetic way, but rather in an exceedingly demeaning and patronising voice that would normally be reserved for kindergarteners and the elderly.
There is a momentary pause as I process this. WTF did she just say? Do I speak English? In this day and age, with me clutching my Australian passport, she bloody asks if I speak English? Of course I speak bloody English. I speaky Engrish velly good, you stupid racist cow.

"Yes," replies my brother with exasperation.
"Yes, I speak English!" I state angrily and a tad too loud. She ignores our obvious frustration and does not offer an apology. Instead, she goes on to say, "You're sitting by the emergency exit and that requires you to open the doors in an emergency." She gives us the same judgemental look, this time with a hint of skepticism as if doubting our ability to turn a door handle. "Can you do that?" Oh no! Open a door? You mean I'd need to use some form of coordination. *gasp* It's all so overwhelming, I'm not sure if I can do it! Oh, and the signs are written in English? However will I cope? Yes I can friggin do it. This isn't the first time I've been on a plane you ignorant cow.

I look her in the eye and say, "Yes, I am capable of that." I give her a good greasing before our passports are finally checked and we board the plane.

The guy sitting next to me is a jerk. He has stupidly long legs that I need to step over to get to my seat because he's too inconsiderate and lazy to move them. And his elbows take up both arm rests. He's rude and unpleasant. I deliberately step on his shins when I get out of my seat to access the overhead compartment.

Anyway, I settle into my seat and realise that we don't have our own personal television like on every other international flight I've been on, but rather we have a crappy communal television hanging down above the aisle (there's only one aisle - it's a small plane). Sigh. Well, hopefully they'll show a decent film I think to myself as I reach for the inflight entertainment programme guide. I flip through it and find the movie they are going to show. Oh god. It's Extraordinary Measures. You know...the film based on a true story starring Harrison Ford who's character, a doctor who finds a cure for Pompe disease, is acutally based on an Asian doctor, Dr. Yuan-Tsong Chen. Yeh that's the one. That's the racist, white-washed film that required the respectable, Asian character to be replaced by a white actor to make it more "relatable to audiences". Coz you know, there aren't any Asian doctors about. The only Asians I know are the ones who do my dry cleaning and deliver me my takeaway sweet and sour pork with fried rice. Friggin Hollywood. I could go on about "racebending" in films, but please just read this or go to any Asian themed blog and I'm sure you'll come across references to "Airbender" and yellowface. Oh, and if you think racebending only happens in Hollywood, think again. It happens right here in our own backyard. The new Australian miniseries "The Legend of Billy Sing" about the deadliest sniper at Gallipoli, a Chinese-Australian (yeah, there were Asian ANZACs), is played by a white guy. Oh, and Billy Sing's Chinese father is played by a white guy too. WTF? Read more about it on Asians Down Under (I love the bit where the director states that he decided not to resort to yellowface because they couldn't have afforded the makeup. Ha!)

So I refused to watch the film and instead listened to the inflight radio (a choice between talkback radio and classical music - classical won) and did a cryptic crossword. In English. Coz I speaky Engrish velly well.

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