When Caroline boarded the plane to California that day, she had no idea that she would get into an argument that would set her savings account back hundreds of dollars. And the craziest part was that it all started when she simply reclined her seat, as she had done on every other flight she had been on in her life. The airline would soon regret charging her with such a ridiculous fine...
Caroline Needed a Change In Her Life
Caroline was a travel agent working in the small city of Scranton, Pennsylvania. She had been born there and lived there all her life. But she’d always dreamed of moving to the west coast. She longed for the warm weather and beautiful scenery. She decided it was now or never. She was going to find a way to get to California.
The Unexpected Happens
But then, something unexpected happened. Caroline became pregnant. She hadn’t planned for this but had always wanted to be a mother. Unfortunately, the child’s father skipped town and left Caroline alone with the task of birthing and raising a child. Caroline was scared but determined to be a good mom.
Caroline Gives Birth
Thanks to the support of her family and friends, Caroline eventually gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Caroline named the baby Thomas, after her grandfather. Together, Caroline and baby Thomas made quite the pair. Caroline felt a sense of meaning like she had rarely felt in her life before.
But She Still Has Big Plans
Nonetheless, Caroline still dreamed of living in California and decided if she was ever going to move, now was the time, before baby Thomas was old enough to begin school. So Caroline aggressively applied for travel agent jobs in California. She had a few interviews and responses but no job offers…yet.
Caroline Gets a Big Offer
Then, it happened. A small travel agency in Burbank, California offered Caroline a job. They liked her experience and personality. They thought she’d be a great fit in their company culture. And best of all, they didn’t need her to begin the job for another three months. So Caroline had time to move to California.
Caroline Gets Ready for a Big Change
Caroline was able to break her apartment lease. She began selling off some of her furniture. Her parents and friends helped her pack. They were sad to see her go but knew moving to California was her dream. Besides, they told her, you can always come home if you don’t like it there.
Caroline Says Goodbye to Her Loved Ones
Caroline knew she couldn’t have made it through the birth of baby Thomas without her supportive family and friends. But she also knew that if she didn’t make a big change, she might regret it for years to come. She was still determined to move across the country, even if it was a risky decision.
Caroline Saves Up
Caroline made enough money to support herself and baby Thomas with her travel agency job but moving across the country was expensive. She had to pay a moving company to ship all her belongings to California. She had to lease an apartment in Burbank and it wasn’t cheap. So Caroline saved as much as she could and spent as little as possible.
Caroline’s Life Changes
Finally, it was time to pack up all her belongings for the moving company. It was a bittersweet feeling to leave Scranton, her home for her entire life. But she needed to pursue her dream. She stood in her empty apartment, a little sad but happy as well. She then picked up baby Thomas and headed to the airport.
Caroline Arrives at the Airport
Caroline had picked an inexpensive airline for her flight to Burbank. She was on a tight budget and couldn’t afford to spend much on airfare. So she had booked a late night flight with the cheapest airline she could find. She didn’t mind, although baby Thomas was exhausted. She boarded her flight, ready for the next chapter in her life.
Caroline Boards the Plane
Caroline took her seat but could tell something was wrong. The plane didn’t seem to be moving even after everyone was seated. The pilot made an announcement saying they should be moving any time now. Caroline hoped this was true but was skeptical. Meanwhile, the plane sat there for another half hour.
The Flight is Canceled
To Caroline’s disappointment, the pilot then announced that their flight had actually been canceled due to a mechanical issue with the plane. Caroline had suspected something was wrong so she wasn’t shocked. Nonetheless, she was already tired and would have to board an even later flight. She and baby Thomas walked back into the airport to book the next flight to Burbank.
The Next Flight Is Full
Much to Caroline’s frustration, she found out that the next flight to Burbank was fully booked. The next available flight didn’t leave until 6am, 5 hours from then. Caroline was annoyed but there wasn’t anything she could do. Not wanting to waste money on a hotel room, she decided to stay at the airport until her next flight.
Caroline’s Long Wait at the Airport
Caroline found a bench where she could lay down and feed baby Thomas. She was surprised at how well behaved he was. Thankfully he hadn’t yet cried. She held Thomas as best she could for hours. She desperately wanted to sleep. Time passed slowly. Caroline grew more exhausted with each passing hour.
Finally, Her Next Flight Boards
At long last, it was time for Caroline to board her new flight. She boarded the plane, took her seat, and hoped she might be able to get a little sleep on the flight. It was exhausting traveling alone with a baby but it was only one flight until she was finally at her new home. The excitement of making it to California helped motivate her.
Someone Causes Problems
Caroline’s flight was not entirely full but there was a man sitting behind her. The man was loudly talking on the phone. Caroline thought he sounded like an annoying Hollywood type. He was obnoxious and rude to the flight attendants. Caroline tried to just silence his voice in her mind.
She Can’t Sleep
Caroline tried to get some sleep but it was nearly impossible with the man behind her. He stood up constantly. He typed aggressively on his computer, which shook Caroline’s seat. He even took off his shoes and socks, sticking his bare feet in the aisle next to Caroline’s seat. Caroline thought to herself, “This can’t be happening.”
Caroline Tries Her Best
Nonetheless, Caroline tried to make the best of the situation. If she can’t sleep, she decided, she’ll just watch a movie to help pass the time. She put on a comedy and tried to tune out the annoying man seated behind her. It worked for a while, until baby Thomas woke up.
Thomas Starts Crying
Baby Thomas had been so quiet throughout this whole trip but now was awake and not happy to be on an airplane. He started crying, loudly. Caroline tried her best to quiet him, offering him milk and toys. Nothing seemed to work. She could hear the rude man behind her sighing loudly.
The Rude Man Yells at Caroline
After a while, the rude man behind Caroline loudly asked her to “Shut her baby up.” Caroline spun around and shot the man an angry look. “I’m trying,” she replied. “Do a better job,” the rude man responded. Caroline couldn’t believe this guy. If everyone in California was like this guy, maybe she’d made a mistake moving there.
Caroline Finally Gets Baby Thomas to Stop Crying
Finally, after what felt like an eternity, baby Thomas stopped crying and fell back asleep. Caroline was relieved. She felt awful disturbing the other passengers but there was only so much she could do. At long last, her baby had quieted down. She only had a couple hours left in her flight. Things seemed to be OK…
Caroline Decides to Take a Nap
Caroline decided to take a quick nap now that Thomas was asleep. So she did what she’d done a hundred times before on airplanes: recline her seat. The rude man behind her had finally stopped making noise so she figured he was asleep. Then she heard the horrible crunching sound.
At first, Caroline thought maybe she’d broken her chair. But she could tell that whatever that crunching sound she heard was, it wasn’t good. Then she heard the rude man behind her start cursing. “Are you kidding?!” he exclaimed. Caroline knew this bad travel experience was about to get worse.
A Broken Laptop
Caroline turned around and saw the man behind her holding a broken laptop in his hands. How could this have happened? Caroline didn’t understand how the simple act of reclining her seat would have broken a computer. It didn’t seem to make any sense. As she looked at the broken laptop, her eyes met the rude man’s eyes. He looked furious.
Caroline couldn’t understand how this could be her fault but she began apologizing anyway. She thought maybe it would just diffuse the situation so she could go back to sleep. She hadn’t done anything wrong and she certainly hadn’t broken the man’s computer on purpose. So she mostly just wanted to apologize and get the whole thing over with.
The Man is Livid
The man behind Caroline became livid and started yelling at her. “You’re sorry?!” he yelled. “You destroyed my computer! I have all my work on here!” Caroline apologized again and said all she did was recline her seat slightly. She didn’t understand how that would have broken the laptop. It didn’t seem to make any sense.
A Flight Attendant Comes Over
By now, one of the flight attendants had heard the commotion and came over to see what the issue was. The man started angrily explaining that Caroline had broken his laptop. He claimed she “aggressively” reclined her seat. Of course, that wasn’t true. Caroline normally reclined her seat a bit like she had a hundred times before on other flights.
The Flight Attendant Investigates
The flight attendant tried to calm the man down and understand what happened. It turned out the man had a huge pile of bags and belongings stuffed under Caroline’s seat. When she reclined, everything became squished and the corner of the laptop screen snapped. The computer didn’t seem to be terribly damaged but it wouldn’t turn on.
The Flight Attendant Says Something Shocking
Caroline thought the whole thing was pretty overblown. She felt bad that she’d broken the man’s laptop but didn’t see how she could be held responsible. She was also exhausted and desperately wanted a little sleep. She was ready to just ignore the man and try to sleep. But then the flight attendant said something shocking.
Caroline is Blamed
To Caroline’s shock and surprise, the flight attendant seemed to blame Caroline for the laptop being broken. Caroline was asked how quickly she had reclined her seat. Caroline said she reclined the same way she had every time she was on an airplane. The flight attendant suggested Caroline exchange information with the man so she could reimburse him for the broken laptop.
Caroline is Shocked
Caroline couldn’t believe what she was hearing. It was, first and foremost, an honest accident. But if anyone was to blame, it was the man for stuffing so many of his belongings under the seat. Caroline continued to assert that she did absolutely nothing wrong. But the man with the broken laptop was relentless.
The Man Demands Payment
The man demanded a $500 payment from Caroline for breaking his laptop. She said that was ridiculous and it was a simple accident. The man demanded her contact information. The flight attendant agreed with the man and said Caroline should offer to pay repair costs. Caroline was on the verge of exploding in anger.
As the flight attendant continued to insist that Caroline provide the man with her contact information so that she could reimburse him $500 for the broken laptop, Caroline decided she’d had enough. She had been through a very long and tiring travel day. Her big move to California was being ruined. She’d done nothing wrong by reclining her seat.
Caroline Sets Everyone Straight
Caroline angrily told the man behind her that all she’d done was recline her seat. If his laptop had been stowed normally or in his seat pocket or on his tray table, it wouldn’t have broken. She told him she owed him nothing and he could try to press charges if he’d like. She was done putting up his outrageous behavior.
Caroline Gets Revenge
Caroline then told the flight attendant that she was a travel agent and that she was starting a new job in Burbank. She said that she could either spend the rest of her career as a travel agent telling everyone how awful the airline was or the flight attendant could mind her own business.
The Flight Attendant is Stunned
The flight attendant seemed stunned that this quiet woman had exploded. Caroline declared she was taking down the flight attendant’s name and would be sure to discuss this issue with the airline. She wasn’t going to be bullied into paying for some jerk’s broken laptop simply because she reclined her seat.
Caroline Worries About Her Outburst
Caroline said what was on her mind but worried about her outburst. Would she be reported by the man or the flight attendant? Did someone film her outburst in an attempt to embarrass her? She felt like she was right to be angry but anything could be misconstrued online. She was worried her new job might even be in jeopardy.
The Rest of the Flight Is Calm
After this, the man grumbled a bit and the flight attendant looked annoyed but they both left Caroline alone. The rest of Caroline’s flight to Burbank was relatively quiet and uneventful. Baby Thomas rested throughout the flight, much to Caroline’s relief. It might’ve been the worst flight of her life but it was almost over.
Caroline Arrives at Her New Home
Finally, the plane landed. Caroline had arrived at her new home. She collected her luggage and hailed a car to take her to her new apartment. Her belongings were being delivered by the moving company later that day. She was exhausted but finally she had made it to California, her dream come true.
Caroline Gets Settled Into Her New Life
After the moving company delivered all of her belongings, Caroline finally felt comfortable in her new apartment. She loved the weather and kept her windows open all day. Hummingbirds danced outside her balcony. Her neighborhood was peaceful and quiet. It was the perfect place for her. In a couple days, she would begin her new job.
Caroline Begins Her New Job
Caroline began her new job at the travel agency in Burbank. Everyone there was even nicer in person than when Caroline had met them virtually during her job interviews. The office location was downtown next to many great lunch spots and movie theaters. One day, she thought, she’ll take Thomas to see all his favorite movies.
Everything Was Going Perfectly, Until…
It seemed like everything in Caroline’s life was going beautifully. She loved her new apartment. Her job was great. California was even better than she imagined. She found a great caretaker to look after Thomas while she was at work. She was very busy but loved her new life. Then, something shocking happened.
Caroline’s Perfect New Life is Threatened
One day, the phone in Caroline’s boss’ office rang. She couldn’t really hear what her boss was saying but he sounded concerned. Her boss stepped out of his office and in a serious tone asked Caroline to please step inside for a moment. Caroline could tell something was wrong. Her mind feared the worst.
Her Boss Terrifies Her
Caroline’s boss was normally very relaxed so his serious tone was alarming. Caroline nervously sat down in a chair in front of her boss’ desk. She asked what was wrong. Her boss said a man on the phone said Caroline threw a hissy fit on a flight and broke his laptop.
Caroline Can’t Believe It
Caroline couldn’t believe it. The rude, obnoxious man on the airplane had tracked her down and called her boss! She was shocked and angry. The way the man told the story made her seem like an awful person. Of course it wasn’t true but now she worried what her boss might think.
Caroline Desperately Tries to Explain
Caroline desperately tried to explain everything to her boss. She told him how rude and obnoxious the man had been. She told him she only reclined her seat. She said she found the suggestion that she pay for his laptop to be ridiculous. She said she may have gotten too mad at the man in the heat of the moment but that she was certainly not responsible for his broken laptop.
Caroline’s Boss Listens
As Caroline frantically explained everything, her boss listened to her every word in a serious manner. He didn’t speak or ask questions, just listened. His face showed no emotion whatsoever. It was impossible for Caroline to tell what he was thinking. She feared that he might be angry with her for causing a controversy on a flight.
She Finishes Her Explanation
Finally, Caroline finished explaining everything that had happened. She felt bad for breaking the man’s laptop but it only broke because he had shoved it under the seat with a bunch of other belongings. If it had been stowed normally, nothing would’ve gone wrong. She might’ve been willing to generously offer to split the repair bill under normal circumstances but the man was so rude and awful that she couldn’t do it in this case.
Caroline’s Boss Responds
Caroline’s boss listened intently and nodded along as Caroline spoke. Finally, he picked up the phone again. Caroline’s heart was practically beating out of her chest. She was so anxious to see how her boss responded. What her boss did next absolutely shocked her. It was something she would never forget.
Her Boss Yells
Caroline’s boss pulled the phone to his ear and, to Caroline's surprise, began yelling at the rude man on the phone. Her boss called him a nutcase and told him to never call the office again. With that, he slammed the phone down to hang up. Caroline burst out laughing and so did her boss. “What a nutcase that guy was!” her boss exclaimed. They laughed some more. From that day on, Caroline knew she could trust her new employer. She enjoyed her new job at the travel agency almost as much as she loved her new life with baby Thomas.
The events of this story are entirely fictional and are products of the author’s imagination. Images included are meant for illustration purposes only. Any resemblance to actual events, places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.