Also: How not to join the mile-high club, how to compose an effective note for a silent bank robbery, and how to punch a teenage girl in the face.
It is indisputable that air travel has become a dispiriting bore of late, what with the long security lines, the slovenly passengers, and the inevitability of in-flight films starring Jennifer Aniston and/or Adam Sandler.
One can’t help but pine for the 1960s. Back then, flight attendants sported smartly designed outfits and smiled kindly. Travelers wore blazers and ties and skirts and gloves. And being a member of the “mile-high club” really meant something.
Perhaps feeling just such nostalgia, a man on a March 3 Paris-to-Atlanta Delta Airlines flight awoke a female passenger and, according to investigators quoted in an Associated Press report, “indicated that he needed some sex.”
The woman “alerted a flight attendant,” the AP report noted. It did not say whether the flight attendant sported a smartly designed outfit and smiled kindly.
This sort of journalistic oversight is understandable. Associated Press reporters labor under monstrous deadlines. But it explains why erstwhile newspaper readers have flocked to Twitter. While they do not receive details of flight attendant comportment there either, they are able to communicate to a breathlessly waiting world the contents of their daily meals and subsequent bowel movements. To them, evidently, this is the most important comportment news of all.
The Delta Airlines flight attendant notified federal air marshals on board. When they confronted the man, he “struck one of the marshals with a karate-style thrust to the throat,” the AP alliteratively reported.
It is possible that the man, longing for a vanished past, was paying homage to “Hai Karate,” an aftershave popular in the 1960s, the marketing campaign of which included a small self-defense booklet instructing “Hai Karate” users how to fend off women.
If so, the man simply ought to have splashed on a dash of the cologne and awaited a romantic assault from the object of his on-high affections.
Instead, he undertook an appallingly ungallant seduction. This suggests that for all his days-of-yore melancholy, the man, released on $10,000 bail March 4, is truly a modern soul.
In his aversion to gentlemanly conduct, the in-flight cad is not much different from a Georgia man named Scott Filler.
One day in December, Mr. Filler skied the vaunted slopes of Vail, Colorado (population 4,843) with his son, who is 4 years old. At one point a girl, 14, unintentionally skied into the boy, the Vail Daily reported on March 8.
Mr. Filler, evidently a filially protective and chivalrous sort, jumped on the girl and punched her in the face. He later told police he’d considered her to be “skiing carelessly.”
Teenage girls can be delightfully chatty. Had Mr. Filler understood this, he would have engaged the girl in conversation. An effective opening gambit might have contained references to Glee, Twilight, and, needless to say, cute boys. Once comfortable, the girl might have admitted to having skied “carelessly.” At that point Mr. Filler could have contacted authorities and had the girl arrested and sentenced to 20 years of hard labor.
As it is, Mr. Filler is the one paying a debt to society. The court directed him to attend anger management classes and pay a $500 fine.
The Vail Daily neglected to say if this presented a financial hardship to Mr. Filler. If so, the teen-girl-thumping skier would be forced to find inventive ways to scrape the money together. If he is like a certain New York man, he might have decided to rob a bank.
Many men rob banks, but few are they to whom a teller says “no.” This, however, happened to the New York man—who went unnamed in a March 19 Reuters report—after he slipped a note through the teller’s slot that said, “Money in bag.”
The teller refused and activated an alarm. The man fled and is still “at large,” Reuters reported.
That the teller declined the man’s request suggests one of two things. Either she is brave and loyal to a fault, or she was simply bewildered by the man’s request. Though we don’t doubt her courage, we’re leaning to the latter. A note saying “Money in bag,” let’s face it, is open to interpretation.
Perhaps the teller thought the robber had neglected to add a question mark, in which case the note was in the interrogative: “Money in bag?” It would be natural for the teller to say no, especially if there was, at the moment, no money in any nearby bag.
Or she might have assumed the thief was using shorthand in the interests of time efficiency. He really meant “Money in the bag,” indicating that he had managed to literally and figuratively bag bundles of money and hoped to hand them over, perhaps as a gift to the bank he dearly loved. Naturally, the teller would say no, as such an act would disrupt protocol and create and accounting nightmare.
Maybe, finally, the teller considered “Money in bag” a kind of performance-art koan. In a Yoko Ono type of mood, she replied “No” in order to symbolize resistance to a patriarchal capitalist system in which women, denied equal pay, are “bagged” by men with “money.”
Alas, we shall never know the truth. The Reuters story, typical of modern reporting, skimps on details.
The piece is, however, cogently written and communicates its message clearly. This is a style the New York bank robber might consider employing should he plan future raids involving written demands.
A Swedish man forewent written demands altogether last year when robbing a bank in Copenhagen, Denmark (metropolitan population 1,914,865).
Instead, he and an accomplice hid in the bank’s vault for three days beginning on a Friday in May, the AP reported on March 9. The men emptied 140 safety deposit boxes of roughly $500,000.
Three days is a long time, and the human body has its needs. The robbers relieved themselves into bottles while waiting to escape the vault. At the end of the three days, they did that with impunity.
Alas, they left the bottles behind.
Police were able to extract DNA samples from the urine. They arrested one of the men, who is 27. Recently he was sentenced to nearly two years in prison. (His accomplice is still “at large,” the AP reported. In an evident nod to 1940s American film noir slang, the newswire added, “the loot hasn’t been recovered.” This fact suggests that the imprisoned man, no snitch he, declined to rat out his partner.)
For robbers to leave urine-filled bottles in a bank vault they’ve recently raided appears to be folly of the highest order. But is it? It is possible that by the third day the vault’s stale air had rendered the men hallucinatory. They may have thought the bottles contained apple juice. They had decided, then, to leave them behind on the theory that, $500,000 richer, they’d be able to buy all the healthful juices they wished once having rejoined civil society.
The conversation likely went something like this:
BANK ROBBER #1: Dengsta flengsta dalben mengsta alben doost?
BANK ROBBER #2: Yah.
This whole situation might have been avoided had fresh air been available to the Swedish thieves, as it was to a girl, aged 14 months, who spent four hours on February 25 locked in a bank vault in Conyers, Georgia. (population roughly 14,000).
The toddler had wandered away from her grandparents, who are Wells Fargo employees, shortly before Friday closing time, the AP reported on February 26. A scene followed that Conyers Police Chief Gene Wilson described to the AP as “very tense.”
Authorities pumped fresh air into the vault in an effort to ensure that the girl continued to breathe. But police and firefighters failed to gain entry to the chamber. Finally, a locksmith managed to open it.
Chief Wilson noted that the girl was in good health except for, as the AP delicately put it, “a needed diaper change.”
The girl, showing sophistication well beyond her years, elected not to leave the diaper behind in the vault. Bank robbers the world over, not least in Sweden, would do well to emulate her.
Dave Ford is a San Francisco writer whose work has appeared in Spin, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Examiner, SF Weekly, The Advocate, and a host of other periodicals. He writes the blog First of All, and is a certified yoga instructor who teaches at various venues in his home city.
Illustration by Bion Harrigan. Bion Harrigan keeps his head firmly planted in the clouds and has done so since the earliest days of a youth misspent idly daydreaming, reading Mad magazine, and drawing scary monsters and super creeps. He continues to spend an inordinate amount of time daydreaming and drawing at his home in Maplewood, New Jersey.
Other dudes, who, previously, have been “in the news”: