You know how you’re always reading in gossipy magazines about some down and out actor/writer/singer who’s on a plane, minding his own business when suddenly he discovers the passenger next to him is a famous director/editor/producer?
They start talking and by the end the plane touches down in Monte Carlo (in these stories, nobody is ever flying to Penang), the famous director/editor/producer is so impressed with the nobody actor/writer/singer that he offers him a contract. And the next thing you know, this nobody has a hit movie/book/album.
And in all the interviews between now and the time he dies from a drug overdose/burnout/nervous breakdown, he’ll always be telling this story about how if he’d been sitting in another seat or missed the flight, none of this (and here, he would gesture around his marbled mansion or plush Four Seasons suite) would have been possible?
Well, I’m thrilled to report that after a gazillion flights and a magillion miles spent criss-crossing the sky, none of this has ever happened to me and let me tell you that I am not in the least bit impressed about it.
You would think, would you not, that I would at least bump into the secretary to the personal assistant of some big-wig publisher who just loves the stuff I write and tells her boss about it, who in turn, decides that I might very well be the next Dan Brown or Stephanie Myers? Or something.
But no, I’m usually stuck sitting next to Pete O’Mara from Omaha, Texas who spends the entire flight from Singapore to Seattle telling me all about his prostate problems. Somewhere over the North Pole, I will have developed a migraine that just won’t quit.
I really don’t know how this can be. I always dress nicely for a flight (since you’re always reading these articles about how you never know when you might be able to get upgraded and you definitely won’t if you dress like an incognito Hong Kong film star). I shower beforehand. I comb my hair and floss religiously. I smile at fellow passengers and always have a copy of the Economist peeking out from my cabin luggage to convey the impression that I’m a fairly worldly kind of guy and that I deserve to be in Business Class.
By right, I fit all the criteria of someone who is most likely to randomly meet and strike up a life-long Emmy/Pulitzer/Grammy award winning partnership with Steven Spielberg or George Clooney.
And yet, I’ve never met anyone remotely famous on the plane. Well, except for that time I sat five rows behind some government minister who, for some reason, was slumming it in economy class, but even then, I was so jealous at the amount of attention he was getting from the crew.
Meanwhile, one of my best friends, Andrew, who is a big shot lawyer, regularly emails me and tells me who he meets in various airports around the world. For example, an average email might read, “I was in the First Class Lounge the other day at Milan airport and who should be sitting across from me than Kate Moss!” (No one really liked Andrew at school. Now, I know why.)
My flatmate Amanda once found herself sitting next to Andy Lau. “I wonder what he was doing in Business Class,” she mused later. “If I was him, I’d be in First Class all the time!”
Saffy later said that if Amanda goes around talking like this, she wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Amanda has no friends left.
I suspect my complete lack of success has something to do with the fact that I’m always flying Economy. That rules out meeting anyone of note. Because if you’re a VIP, or at least Someone Who Makes a Difference to Random People’s Lives, you would expect to be sitting in, at least, Business Class.
Which makes me wonder how those down and out actors/writers/singers get to meet their famous fellow passengers in the first place. Because, if those gossip magazines are anything to go by, these people are usually out of work waitresses, waiters, petrol station attendants or something who live in their friend’s garage or couch. How could they afford to sit next to the VIP or SWMDRPL in the first place? Because Fann Wong does not do Economy.
The whole thing is so unfair. A seat number is all that separates me from my much deserved fame and fortune. My advice: be alert and vigilant with your CV ready. Because you never know who you’re going to be sitting next to. Why, it could be Fann Wong’s maid. But it’s a start.