Rudeness in the friendly skies…

This morning, my husband Bill sent me a hilarious article about rude people on a Thanksgiving flight.  Basically, what went down is that Elan Gale, of The Year of Elan, was on a flight that got delayed.  A self-centered woman on the flight was very upset that she had a connecting flight to Sacramento that she would miss.  She was loudly protesting, being very rude to the flight attendant, and basically causing a big scene.

Elan Gale witnessed the embarrassing spectacle and decided to send the woman a glass of red wine, along with a note strongly hinting that she should shut her pie hole.  Naturally, the lady, whose name is Diane, didn’t appreciate the gesture.

Elan responded by giving Diane a couple of mini bottles of vodka.  Diane wrote back that Elan is an “awful person” and she feels sorry for his family for having to deal with him.  So much for goodwill toward men during the holiday season.

Elan and Diane continued to go at it for the duration of their flight to Phoenix.  Elan eventually invited Diane to “eat his dick”.  When they disembarked, Diane slapped Elan across the face.  Elan declined to press charges, though he would have been within his rights.

I’m sure there’s an unknown reason why Diane was being so difficult during that flight.  Perhaps someone in her family is sick.  Maybe there’s some other big problem in her life that made this flight’s delay so catastrophic.  Maybe she has a psychiatric problem that causes her to freak out when she travels.  But there was not a damn thing anyone could do to help her and her endless bitching wasn’t making the situation better.

Of course, Elan and the flight attendant kind of egged her on… though the rest of us are probably somewhat entertained by his antics.  But what if Diane had gone ballistic on the plane and started a brawl?  That whole comedy could have easily turned into a tragedy.

Something remotely similar happened to me once.  I have probably already related this story, but it bears repeating.  Back in April 2010, Bill and I took our very first trip to the Caribbean to sail SeaDream I for the first time.  We had to fly out of St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.  Our flight got delayed by a couple of hours.  The later scheduled flight actually left on time, while we were stranded all afternoon.  People were highly pissed off.

When we finally left the very crowded and expensive airport in St. Thomas that was selling beer for $6 a bottle and water for $5.50, many passengers were decidedly irritable.  I witnessed one guy inviting another guy to kiss his ass when the guy tried to butt in front of him as he demanded a seat in first class.  Then we had rough air for most of the flight, which made people even edgier.  For most of the flight, we weren’t supposed to stand up.  I noticed one unfortunate elderly gentleman had apparently wet his pants.

People had very tight connections because we were so late getting in.  The lady who was sharing our row with us was among those who needed to bail quickly.  Bill and I stepped out of the row so she could get out.

Suddenly, I heard a woman behind me say, “Excuse me, Ma’am.  I need to get past you.”

Before I had a chance to move out of the way, she and her two very large sons pushed past me, practically knocking me down.  I was stopped by the row of seats.  After a day of being stuck in the airport and listening to people bitch and moan, I had had enough.  I fixed a murderous glare at the woman, who had managed to get close to the door, and said very loudly, “What the hell is wrong with you?  Do you think you’re the only one on this flight that has a tight connection?”

She lowered her head, obviously embarrassed.  I was positively seething and probably still muttering expletives as we waited to escape the aircraft.  I draw the line at patience when people get physical with me.  But karma was obviously in motion, since it took about ten minutes to get the door open.  I think that woman and her sons missed their flight, despite their dramatic sprint up the jetway.

Far be it for me to encourage rudeness on airplanes or in airports.  I do think the flight attendant kind of made this situation worse.  On the other hand, I have to admit that it gave me a good chuckle this morning.

I wonder if Nancy could have smoothed things over with Diane…


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