Standers: These guys board the plane, toss their bags into the overhead bin, and then just stand there in the aisle with their hands on their hips as if they're thinking about buying the place. They are completely oblivious to the fifty people behind them who are impatiently waiting for their chance to do the same damn thing.
The 'Excuse Me' Freezer: This person makes his way down the aisle as you are making your way up the aisle, and then when you eventually meet and you say, "Excuse me," in an effort to get them to let you slide past them, they freeze in place with a dippy smile on their face. You have rebooted them. Nothing you do will get them to do anything other than stand there.
Non-verbalers: It's an FAA regulation that the people on the exit row must communicate to you, the FA, that they are willing to assist in an emergency with a verbal yes or no. We say so in the announcement prior to asking for this verbal yes or no, and then again when we actually ask for the verbal yes or no. Why, then, do people think it's OK to nod slightly as if the twice-stated conditions for answering the question I'm asking suddenly don't exist? I've tried several ways of cajoling this single syllable out of these vocally-challenged folk, and the quickest one seems to be to just hold a hand to my ear and say, "What was that, sir?" In this case, they always seem to be offended that I've managed to trick them into speaking. "Yeeees," they say, shrugging, like I've forced them to break a vow of silence. Funny, though, that this is the same juliet alpha I hear talking while I'm making the announcement about what to pay attention to when the plane is on fire.
Buffet Tablers: If someone asked you to do an impression of a flight attendant, you'd probably throw on a lisp and say, "Put on your seat belts and put up your tray tables." That's how ingrained the knowledge is that your tray table has to be up when we take off and land. And yet, there are always folk who, in the ten minutes before take off, manage to lay down an entire eight course repast on their tray table. I mean checkered tablecloth, salt shakers, several fine China dishes, flatware, and candles. I think I saw a lady making crème brûlée once. And I think you can infer what happens when I tell them they have to put their table up for takeoff.
Aisle Spreaders: A long time ago, the spirit of expansion led explorers like Vasco de Gama and Hernando Cortez to say goodbye to everyone and everything they knew in order to board a ship bound for a new life and conquer vast new lands in the name of tyranny and greed. That spirit is alive today, in passengers who, not being content with the seat they're in, spread out into their neighbor's seat and the aisle. I don't so much mind the folk who see me coming and move their feet, but most of them see me on my way somewhere and expect me to tap dance around them. This is where passive-aggressive behavior becomes an art form. Having the range to tackle someone's leg with the force of a linebacker and then a scant instant later apologize with the grace of a geisha is something I'm quite proud of. And if we're coming with the drink cart, you're not getting out of it without a broken bone.
Last Row Whiners: When I'm the aft FA, I get to see what happens when the last row of people sit, because I'm right there between them and the lav. I call it my office when they ask if that's really the lav I'm standing in front of. Most of these people just sit down and shut up. But a lot of the time they're unhappy because they're sitting in the back row. "Wow, we're all the way in the back!" they say, disgruntled. Now when you're the forward FA, you hear these same people say, "Gee, this plane is way too small!" and then when they get to the back, it's been way too far to walk. "Wow," they say when they see where their seat is. "Waow," they continue, when I don't take the bait and ask, "Gee sir, is there something wrong with your seat?" And when it becomes apparent after several 'waows' that I'm just not interested, they launch into a tirade about how the gate agents always sit them in the back row always. I know this is not true because the gate agents are way too busy separating families and sitting foreigners and infants in the exit row to engage in a conspiracy like that. There are only three things about the back row that I can think of that would be grounds for complaint: a) the seats don't recline, b) you have to wait longer to deplane, and c) it's next to the lav, which smells like blue juice when you open the door. I said I can think of these things... I didn't say they were grounds for complaint. Non-reclining seats? The ones that do recline only recline an inch and a half. Wait to deplane? I've actually counted this, and barring any Standers, you have an average wait time of two minutes to deplane, and if you scheduled a ten minute connection, that's not gonna stop you from missing your flight. Next to the lav? Guess what... the entire plane smells like blue juice. That's what planes smell like. When you smell something and think, "That reminds me of an airplane," you're smelling blue juice. And the reason you get more of that smell next to the lav is not because you're sitting in the back row... it's because of the Stablehands.
Stablehands: When you go into a room where the door is closed and then you come back out of it, you close the door, right? Especially a room that smells like blue juice on the inside and features several people right on the outside, right? Well, Stablehands plow right into the lav and then plow right out again, leaving the door wide open, allowing the blue juice to escape and set off more Whiners. I can kinda see this one... when the bathroom door is closed, it's usually occupied, and so you'd leave the door open to signify that it's available. But since I'm in rare form and I've got a lot of momentum going here, I'm not taking it back (side note: I always enjoy watching passengers try to get into the lav. Even though the back one has a doorknob, unlike the phonebooth-type configuration the front one has, it's like watching the raptors in Jurassic Park discover how to open doors every time. It's like a small evolutionary leap every time someone gets into the lav).
Birth Controllers: If you're standing to the right of someone sitting in a chair, and they pick up their right elbow and slam it backwards with all their might, where does that elbow end up? That's right, it does end up there. And unless I take evasive action, I have an elbow end up there almost every flight. The timing is uncanny; it always happens because they're messing with something in the seatback pocket, and you can stand behind them for five minutes, and they'll keep seat-back-pocket-messing, but the moment you try to pass them, BAP in the reset button. And no, it doesn't matter how much you apologize. The trick is to lead with your femurs when you walk down the aisle, so that when they hit you, it breaks their elbow instead of your will to live. Of course, that makes you look like a dressage horse, and only reinforces everyone's suspicion that you like dudes.