Sunday, April 2, 2017

What's happening to us?

                   ---Gus Bonifant

"The final straw was a little girl using an iPad with the volume on high, a device her parents refused to turn down despite repeated requests from the staff at Caruso’s, an upscale Italian restaurant in Mooresville, N.C."
---The Washington Post, reporting on a restaurant that banned children under five, and doubled its business.

There are people, many of them, who feel the restaurant's position is anti-child. There are, or will be others who will feel this is a violation of a child's rights. 

There are others, like me,  who know small children should be allowed to be small children, and see this as a ban on inconsiderate parents who don't care if you planned your expensive date night two weeks ago and hired a sitter. 

What happened to the rights of people who are just minding their own business, or maybe just trying to steer clear of the ones who demand their rights and some of everyone else's?

Not long ago, I sat down on a plane next to a man who had already taken off his shoes, opened a fragrant stir-fry meal of steak and peppers, propped open his tablet and tuned into an episode of Orange is the New Black which featured a protracted scene of prison you-know-what, right there for me and the small children across the aisle to behold.

Last week, I ate lunch with my father in a bar, a nice one with windows and landscaping. A man was at the bar with friends telling a loud story so laced with the f-word, I started to think I wouldn't mind being punched if I could just go over and say,  "Excuse me, every woman here would like to meet your wife who 'makes a big f****** case out of everything,' and fix her up with a guy who at least knows how to act in public."

What's happening to us?

Everyone – male, female, child, adult, gay, straight, big or little, of all colors – deserves the right to be who they are in peace. But too many assert their right to do what they wish, irrespective of the needs and comfort of others who share their space. It's always been that way, but now we have the opportunity to sound off from the stands, whether we understand the whole story or not.  

Last week, the United Airlines leggings issue hit the internet because of a bystander's swift and incendiary tweet which reported, falsely, that two passengers were refused passage because of their wardrobe choices. Quickly, we learned that these were family members of an employee who are, like the employee is, expected to represent the airline in behavior and dress while traveling (for free) on an employee pass. They had violated the dress code.

This went on for days. Delta made fun of them, celebrities weighed in. There was abundant talk of body-shaming, and discrimination, and unfair this, and unfair that, and rights, rights, rights. 

I wondered, why are we still on this?  I have no doubt that this confrontation at the gate happened between an unknowing traveler and the kind of recalcitrant gate employee so many of us have had the misfortune to observe, but it's still beside the point. 

It is the airline's "right" to project what the airline considers a professional image. Employees or family of employees traveling (for free) are not told what to wear, but what not to wear. Have a problem with the gate agent for not seeking an exception if it was called for, but don't have a problem with an airline's stated expectations that their professional image be upheld by anyone acting as a representative. 

I sat next to a pilot once who was traveling to see family.  He had a few days off, he was looking forward to seeing his old neighborhood. He was dressed in his uniform, and he was unfailingly sweet to his seatmate, man who talked for several years (in a monotone) about how to make maple syrup. 

Shouldn't he have been able to wear jeans and an every day shirt, have a few pops, talk too loud on his cell phone, and let his hair down on this first day of his vacation? His airline-employer says no.

How is it different from banks who want their male employees to wear ties, or doctor's offices that don't want their employees to have facial piercings, or restaurants who don't want their employees to come to work unwashed with dirty hair?

We have become so preoccupied with self-centered living, so concerned that our own needs are met first and foremost, and so willing to believe we've been discriminated against when we've simply not been given our way. We are becoming a nation of spoiled, entitled, pajama-wearing, stir-fry-eating plane people. And, I'm not just saying that because the power went out this morning.

It isn't that examples of genuine consideration for others aren't everywhere. If you look, they are. What's happening to us, is that you have to look past so many other me-first behaviors to see them. 


  1. I loved this!! It's true - the examples of kindness and consideration are there but they aren't as obvious as the obnoxious behaviors.

  2. Hi Gigi, thank you and, yes. I LOOK for those examples. And my ranty post aside, I am as touched by kindness as I am annoyed by obnoxious barefoot people on planes.

  3. Susan, you nailed it! And on the head with "see this as a ban on inconsiderate parents".

  4. I'm always glad to read your words. You really are quite sane.

    1. And I am always glad to read your comments, thank you Mithra.I heart my sanity.