Mayonnaise On A Plane

You never forget something like this. An early morning flight out of La Guardia heading home to Los Angeles. We had just wrapped up a four day shoot in Staten Island and I was exhausted and a little crabby to say the least. My early morning smell sensitivity was going into hyperdrive, all the smells of the city were hitting me hard. Early morning flights are great, the earlier the better. I get so anxious waiting to go somewhere, that I would just assume start any journey at the crack of dawn or even before if possible. 

With a hot coffee and stale glazed donut in hand I boarded the airplane and took my seat. It was a full flight and I did my best to get a window seat beforehand, but could only score an aisle. No problem. 

“Okay looks safe, no overly weird or enthusiastic people”

“Wait a second, who is this guy” 

“He looks dodgy like the kind of person who spits on the sidewalk”

“Just relax, he’s fine”

“Is that a sub?!” 

“No way, he’s pulling out a sub”  

“WTF ?!” 


“Thats a lunch sub, guy! You’re breaking the rules right now” 

“What are you doing eating lunch at eight in the morning?!”

“Who does this?”

“Oh my god I smell sliced onions”

“Like, the thinly sliced ones that were sliced yesterday and are extra strong now”

“Oh, this guy’s an asshole”

The obvious happened and he unwrapped the sub. It smelled. It smelled so bad that I had to immediately put my shirt up over my nose to cope. It wasn’t helping at all. The urge to gag was starting to become too overwhelming and I could feel my throat muscles involuntarily tighten. 

From my aisle seat which was rapidly declining from a good seat to a horrible seat, I had a straight eye line to giant pudding like globs of mayonnaise, taunting me. Honestly, it looked like he ordered “extra mayo” from a deli that already goes heavy on the mayonnaise . I think they used an ice scream scoop to scoop it on . The sub was sitting there on his tray, ready to eat but he was just looking at it. Letting it fill the air with the thick heavy smell of extra mayo and onions. Maybe he was saying a prayer to the mayo gods thanking them for their bounty. 

My only comfort was that the door was going to be closing soon, and you can’t even taxi, let alone take off with your tray in the down position. 

What transpired next was what actually sent me over the edge, I felt like I was taking crazy pills because the way he actually ate the sub was almost as bad as the way the sub looked and smelled. 

“How long is it going to take him to eat this thing?”

“Oh I knew it, he’s a slow eater”

“Really? really? Bird sized bites?”

“Wrapping it up already? Great, now bury it deep in your bag”

“A napkin ? Why bother? 

“Now put it away, come on, get rid of it and put your tray up” 

“What the hell why are you unwrapping it?!”

“I have to go through this again?!”

I’m now noticing that the tomatoes, onions, and may are creating this skim milk like liquid that is dripping off of the sub when he lifts it up to his mouth to take another bite. My shirt is still up over my nose. I had really thought that by now a flight attendant would have walked by and asked him to put his nasty sandwich away for the duration of the flight and not to take it back out. No such luck…It continued.

“Aw man, don’t put it down just keep eating it, finish the damn thing!”

“This is it, I’m gonna puke”

“What?! Why are you wrapping it back up again?” 

“Why is he wrapping it up AGAIN?!”

“I think the smell is going to be on my clothes”

“I wish there was no such thing as mayonnaise”

For what seemed like an eternity, his process of unwrapping the sub, taking a bird bite, re wrapping, wiping his mayonnaise mouth and fingers with the same damn napkin over and over again, waiting a few beats then repeating the exact agonizing sequence, played itself out until the sub was completely finished. Every last bit. Just in time for the captain to make an announcement to close the doors. 

Game over- Mayonnaise: 1  Jason: 0

Published by Jason Stroh

I am a Los Angeles based food stylist and chef

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