On a recent Aeromexico flight from New York to Mexico City, I sat cozily in my window seat, devouring my newspaper, magazines and book, respectively. The Mexican man to my left sported a navy Red Sox cap, Aeropostale blue jeans and some very shiny black patent leather shoes. He talked to no one, read nothing, watched nothing, and listened to nothing. And then, suddenly, I heard him speak when the flight attendant approached with her cart full of beverages.
While I replied to her beverage inquiry with my best “agua con gaz,” she then asked my Mexican neighbor what he’d like. “Agua? Coca? Tequila?” she asked. “Tequila,” he answered. She then gave him a list of choices for how he can have it, which I understood to be straight up, on ice, or with Coke or Sprite.
I kept my eyes on her as she traveled to the next row and then the next, watching that tall, thin Cuervo bottle lifted and poured more than any other beverage. No money changed hands.
Wondering about the time I looked at my watch. Yep, just as I’d thought, it was 12:00 in the afternoon and these imbibers comfortably sipped their Tequila way above the clouds. If this were a U.S. airline, they’d have to pay at least five bucks, would receive a teeny little twist-off bottle, and would probably get some funky looks from nosy neighbors–like me.
On the way back home from Mexico, again on Aeromexico, I sat next to a middle aged Mexican couple. The woman, directly to my left, seemed a nervous flier, gripping her husband’s hand during take off and closing her eyes through the flight listening to the music of a latin singer named Diego Verdaguer (I only know this because his crooning figure kept on showing up on her Ipad). When the post-meal beverage cart arrived and she asked for her tequila on ice, it was old hat for me.
I turned back to my book and thought: Viva La Diferencia!