There are a lot of terrible misdeeds in the annals of air travel, but an incident involving a crying toddler and a racist old creep that allegedly took place on an Atlanta-bound flight last Friday, February 8, might take all the pretzel snack packs. According to the FBI, an apparently cantankerous 60-year-old man got so fed up with a crying toddler in the seat next to him that he told the toddler's mother to "shut that n*gger baby up" before slapping the 19-month-old across the face with an open palm.
If you're a macrocosmic thinker, your first reaction should probably be that humanity is so not ready for commercial space travel, not if travellers such as the allegedly slap-happy Joe Rickey Hundley are prowling the skies, wasted on double vodkas and unable to empathize with a young child's utter terror at being launched through the air in a metal tube that sounds like it's always on the verge of snapping in half like a breadstick. The Smoking Gun provides a thorough account of the alleged confrontation (warning: keep a puke bucket handy because this story will stir up all your bile):
As detailed by FBI Agent Daron Cheney, Hundley was traveling to Atlanta from Minneapolis in seat 28A on the MD-90 twin-engine jet. He was seated next to Jessica Bennett, who shared seat 28B with her son Jonah.
Bennett, 33, told investigators that the "aircraft was in final descent" to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport when her child "started to cry due to the altitude change." Bennett added that she "was trying to get [her son] to stop crying, but he continued."
At this point, Bennett recalled, Hundley used the racial epithet as he told her to shut the child up. He then allegedly "turned around and slapped" the toddler in the face "with an open hand, which caused the juvenile victim to scream even louder." The slap, Bennett said, "caused a scratch below [the child's] right eye."
According to the U.S. District Court affidavit, Another passenger named Todd Wooten told Agent Cheney that he "heard derogatory language coming from the rear of the aircraft." He also claims that he saw Hundley strike the toddler. Moreover, Bennett says that Hundley "reeked of alcohol" when he boarded the plane, and continued drinking like a man who had a dream that his plane is going to crash. TSG adds that Hundley (who was arrested in 2007 following a fight with his girlfriend) was charged with simple assault earlier this week.
Look, we get it — flying on a commercial airliner, miracle of technology that it may be, sucks. Nobody wants to rub thighs with a stranger who's "discreetly" wiping his mucus-caked nose on his golf shirt, or a superannuated woman from Bethesda who keeps asking, "What's that you're reading?" while you're clearly reading and putting on your best "don't fucking talk to me, stranger" scowl. Then there's the clear and present danger of some bewildered infant freaking out about the loud noises and sudden pressure changes, an air-travel annoyance that is so common it has become one of the most worn-out memes in comedy.
Every flight has a crying baby. Reasonable people learn to ignore the baby because the crying baby is all part of the flying experience, but there are those few entitled creeps sprinkled throughout the air-going population who just can't help but express how inconvenienced they are over having to exist in the world amongst other people.
Image via Nadezhda1906/Shutterstock.