People Are The Worst, Air Travel Edition

July 2, 2014

Flying in an airplane is, as Louis C.K. reminds us, a miracle of not-so-small proportions. As such, it was, once upon a time, the province of well-dressed, sophisticated, presumably sane people, as depicted in the totally real photo above.

Today, though, it’s a completely different world. Air travel today is filled almost exclusively with savages. It’s as if, with each flight, dozens of people instantly forget their status as humans and resort to behaving like wild monkeys fighting over the last banana.

You know what I’m talking about:

  • The people who’ll happily run your ass over with a Smarte Carte in an effort to get in front of one more person at the check-in line.
  • The guy in Zone 3 who’s trying to board with Zone 1 because he just has to sit on the plane for an extra 30 minutes.
  • The woman who treats the flight attendant like he just slaughtered her daughter.
  • The dude sitting in row 78 who tries to muscle his way off the plane with the first-class passengers like he’s something special for whom we’d all gladly stay on the plane while his needs are tended to.
  • The college kid who thinks you can’t hear Zedd’s electro-thump blaring out of his Beats by Dre four inches from your head.
  • The people who think it’s a good idea to try to get up for a pee break while the flight attendants are running drink service.
  • The insufferable [censored] who can’t possibly deal with the severe injustice leveled upon him when the flight attendant reminds him of the rule we’ve had FOREVER about only one carry-on plus one personal item.
  • And perhaps worst of all, the rotten [censored] [censored] [censored] [censored] who reclines his seat — crushing your legs, laptop and soul — even though he’s in an exit row.

From the moment you exit the highway and pull into the “departures” lane, every aspect of modern air travel is filled with partially (or formerly) human creatures hell-bent on nothing more than selfish satisfaction. Like toddlers, but less cute. Or cats, but a little less terrible.

So how does a fine, upstanding gentleman like me survive this grotesque rat race? Use it as inspiration. (Allow me to mount my high horse for a moment.) When I see this sort of savagery, I use it as a reminder to be extra charming and considerate to all who cross my path.

Look ’em in the eye. Say “hi.” Smile while saying “hi.” Ask them how they’re doing, and actually listen to the answer. Walk slowly; hell, stroll, even. Hold the door for the next guy. Let the other row go first. You know, be a human for a few hours. It truly lightens my mood and gives me a smug feeling of satisfaction, which is nice.

Of course, I’m not the only knight in shining armor out there, but lord knows our ranks could use some reinforcements. And if you’re wondering, there’s one thing I just can’t bring myself to do, no matter how good a mood I’m in: I ain’t making chit-chat with the cab driver. That cab ride from JFK to midtown is my shot at 45 minutes of sacred peace and quiet, and that’s priceless.