The scene: A fairly busy economy class cabin.
Describe your fellow traveller: Smart, youngish guy, around 35 or so, sitting next to me in a two-seat row in at the bulkhead.
The review: We exchange basic nodding and hellos as he sits down, and then both of us just read until the dinner service. Here he orders two bottles of wine, and I order one and he opens his and offers a cheers. I cheers him back. He asks me how my trip to Japan was and I give him a few basic details and then he LAUNCHES into his life story, how he'd lived there a year as teacher, fallen in love and moved his life there and then got engaged and then she left him just as they were making plans to get married, all the while getting more frantic and polishing off his wine and ordering more, and a brandy after the food and I'm just nodding and trying to be as sympathetic as I can to someone I don't know. He's pretty distraught by the end, and ordering more booze ("Have YOU ever been in love? (no pause for me to answer) It's like TORTURE, pure TORTURE...") as he finishes each drink. He then necks a couple of sleeping pills (politely offering me one) and then tells me "This is all sure to put me right to sleep, and I really need that certainty. Job interview tomorrow, if I don't get some shut-eye, I'm done for." I see him put his eye mask on and I read for a bit and slowly drift off myself. I wake up a few hours later, and we're beginning our decent. I look over, and what looks like a cadaver is staring back at me, glass of wine in hand. "I couldn't sleep," he informs me testily. "That baby across the aisle kept me wide awake ALL NIGHT. All the drink and all the sleeping pills I took...now I just feel...like death." I squint to look over at a baby some ways away. I can't really imagine how he must feel. "I'm SO, SO TIRED," he moans (I could have guessed that part perhaps). And with that he sinks into an open-eyed coma of some kind as we head to grey, unforgiving London and I hide behind a magazine.
Verdict: Not really annoying and some of his chat was amusing but the pills-alcohol-sleep gamble failed pretty miserably. Plus, you know, life ruined and stuff. I just hope he was OK.
Rating: A sympathetic 3/5.