Oct 29, 2022
Sometimes when escaping the rat race you find yourself becoming a rat.
Air travel brings out something in people that, in normal life, stays hidden. It’s the combination of the expense, non-negotiable departure times, lots of uncertainty, and lots and lots of people packed into tight confines. Then add travel disruptions, crying babies, potentially rude airline staff and it escalates the tension. During air travel you see who people really are. And you may learn some unpleasant things about yourself.
Years ago, I watched a father change his baby’s diaper while laying his baby across two tray tables during a flight. That scene has never left my mind.
Yesterday, I listened as an older man complained loudly about his wife who, he said, was constantly late. “She’ll be late for her own funeral,” he repeated over and over to the gate agent for us all to hear. His wife was shopping and when she arrived, he blasted her. She blasted back saying she was not late, they had plenty time and we heard their fight go all the way down the jetway and onto the plane.
There’s gamesmanship over arm rests. No words, no looks, but an aggressive passive aggressive competition over a two-inch wide piece of elbow space.
Larger people raising the arm rests saying they’re painful and dig into their sides. Passengers pushing the arm rest back down saying, “Sorry. I bought this whole seat and don’t want you spilling into it.” Loud snorers having their seats violently shaken to wake them up. People missing flights and having meltdowns so loud that security has to come take them away.
Once in Atlanta, a passenger from my flight confronted me in the terminal, screaming at me inches from my face. I’d never seen this person before, and people were forming a circle to watch. I kept asking who he was and why was he so angry. He kept hollering and finally walked off. I was terrified. Turns out I was upgraded to a first-class seat, and he thought I had sabotaged his upgrade. He started drinking and got off the plane looking for a fight.
Now this sounds so self-righteous but I’m no saint. I’ve flown nearly three and a half million miles and, at one time, I felt the airlines owed me. I made demands, I raised my voice and I’m embarrassed by who I was back then. Today I try to stay quiet and grateful. However, I still fail. A few weeks ago, fifteen minutes from landing in Mobile, the flight turned around and flew back to Dallas due to a mid-flight mechanical issue. I got off the plane and asked a few questions and their answers, I felt, were unsatisfactory and my body language showed it. Imagine a person miming disgust. That was me. We went through three planes that day, all with mechanical issues, until we found one that finally got us home seven hours late.
I love being in new, far-away, places which makes air travel necessary. But getting there can be awful. It’s unfortunate that sometimes in the process of escaping the rat race you find yourself becoming a rat.
I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep It Real.