An Interesting Juxtaposition

by Ginger on February 20, 2013

in Random

The other day on my flight to New York, I saw an interesting juxtaposition between entitlement and service. It has stuck with me the last few days for being so clear a delineation.

At the beginning of the flight, a woman sat down next to me. She was very agitated, sighing heavily, pushing past me into her seat in the middle. Everything she was doing, she did with a sigh, and a head shake and an overall air of being upset. Finally, after bumping me for the 3rd time, she said, “I’m sorry. I’m just so upset. I was supposed to be in the aisle. They weren’t supposed to put me in the middle!” I sort of nodded at her, and then went back to my book, like you do. A few minutes later, after more sighing and shifting, she got up, stepped over me, and pushed past the line of people still trying to get to their seats to go talk to a flight attendant. She was very animated, pointing and gesturing and sighing–and holding up the line of people trying to get on the plane.

Her conversation worked, because as soon as there was an open aisle seat, the flight attendant moved her right away. Win-win, in my opinion–she got her aisle seat, and I didn’t have to sit next to someone who was going to fidget and sigh the whole flight.

Fast-forward to the end of the flight. We’ve landed, and taxied, and finally pulled into our gate. And the seatbealt sign goes off and the whole plane stands up (why do we do that? It just slows the process down) and…doesn’t move, like usual. But from the back, I see this little wave of people shifting and…sure enough, there’s Ms. Agitated, pushing her way up to my row, where her luggage was stowed.

When she was almost up to where I was seated, one of the flight attendants made an announcement:

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have 5 Marines coming home today from Afghanistan. We ask that you please let them deplane first. Thank you for your service!”

The rest of the plane broke out in applause, and moved to get out of the aisles/move aside for the Marines. It was a little chaotic (they really should have made the announcement before the seat belt sign went off if you ask me), but you could watch everyone relax from their “MUST GET OFF PLANE FIRST” mentality to let these men off the plane.

Except Ms. Agitated.

No, Ms. Agitated continued to push forward to get her bag. Then when someone stood in front of her and wouldn’t move so that she would stop, she threw her bag in my seat, and basically threw a temper tantrum. She sighed, she glared, she gesticulated, she shifted back and forth, she muttered “why should they get off the plane before me? I have places to be too!”

Everyone around her couldn’t help but give her the side eye. Because the reality is, even if some of those folks didn’t think those Marines should be given special treatment, she was the only person on that plane who vocalized that thought and not only acted like THEY were inconveniencing her, but that this entire plane full of people was in her way.

And the thing that was just such an interesting juxtaposition to me is that the Marines? EVERY SINGLE ONE was a little embarrassed to have been singled out. One of them (who was in a row by me), tried to get everyone to just go, and “don’t worry about it, I can wait my turn.” Three of them tried to just…not go, and wait it out. And then you have this woman who has been acting like a spoiled brat since she got on the plane. I wanted to say to her, “Honey, your privilege is showing.”

I know I can be impatient, and huffy, and eye-roll-y at times, particularly when it involves standing or waiting in line with hordes of other people, but watching this woman was a reminder to me to…uh, knock it off sometimes. Most of the time, there isn’t an earth shattering reason for me to be in such a rush or so pushy or to act like my schedule and reasons trump all the people around me. I just hope the next time I start acting like a spoiled brat, I remember this scene, and think which of these I’d rather act like.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

San February 20, 2013 at 2:43 pm

This is very interesting, because it shows how much you find a balance to not let people push you over because you’re too nice (I once switched seats with someone and took a middle seat so he could have an aisle seat. I KNOW!) and not be this annoying, entitled person that everybody gets upset about.
There are times when courtesy and a little bit of consideration goes a LONG way.

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Susie February 20, 2013 at 3:31 pm

It took me this entire post before I realized I was picturing my snobby Manhattanite aunt. Like, actually just assuming that’s who you were seated next to.

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Jesabes February 21, 2013 at 6:05 pm

LOL. I love this.

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Natalie the Singingfool February 20, 2013 at 4:21 pm

I was getting annoyed just picturing the whole scene…where do people like that come from? It made me want to slap this woman I’ve never met…

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Cloud February 20, 2013 at 10:25 pm

Ah, air travel. I don’t have to travel for work much these days, and I can’t say I miss it! As much as we worry as parents about how our kids behave on airplanes, all of my horror stories about terrible flights involve other adults.

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Single Mom in the South February 21, 2013 at 3:34 am

Lord help me, I hope I NEVER act like that woman, even if I feel like it on the inside. That’s just… well… not good breeding… for lack of a better phrase!

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Alyssa S. February 21, 2013 at 8:20 am

As SO not prone to actual violence as I am, I really would have had to fight not slapping someone like that. Clearly someone who hasn’t learned that life isn’t all about her!

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cliffie February 22, 2013 at 2:44 am

Yes, we have all seen these “entitled” people. I am one of those people that stands up right away, not because I need to hurry to get off; because of back issues. I can’t sit that long and just need to stand. The sad thing about Ms Agitated is it works for her. The rest of us give her what she wants to get rid of her!

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Christa the BabbyMama February 22, 2013 at 8:31 am

Good gravy! Whether or not someone thinks anyone deserves special treatment, how long was everyone delayed. A few minutes? Was that lady’s ride going to zoom away because she didn’t walk out at X o’clock on the dot? I think not. Sometimes I find myself getting miffed in minor traffic jams. I have to remind myself that where I’m going is going to be there when I get there. At worst, I phone to say I’ll bea bit late. People need to chill!

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Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks February 22, 2013 at 12:18 pm

I think we can all use a little perspective now and then – it reminds us about what’s really important and gives us an opportunity to shift things around, as needed. And by “we”, I mean those of us who are actually open to our own actions and those of us who actually have a desire to improve upon them, too. =)

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hillary February 25, 2013 at 12:26 am

Ugh. I was getting clenchy just reading this. I … would have a hard time not rolling my eyes at the eye roll-y lady :)

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Hope February 27, 2013 at 12:51 pm

I don’t think that we should be in Afghanistan, but I would have waited for those Marines and maybe even given them an atta boy. We can disagree with a war and with the military, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that they probably just went through a very harrowing experience and are most likely really antsy to get home and see their families.

I think that comment about the aisle was her PA way of trying to get you to switch. Good on you for not giving in to her!

It’s funny, if she’d been nice and apologetic and explained to the flight attendants that she had a really good reason why she needed to get off the plane, they probably would have been just as helpful to her. We get back the energy we put out into the world.

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Jess @ Wrangling Chaos March 5, 2013 at 8:32 am

People like that rub me wrong. Partly because I have family exactly like that, and I remember as a kid always wondering why they had to make such a scene about nothing.

The other part of why people like that annoy me is because they carry around this idea that their life, their stuff, their moments carry so much more weight than other people’s. They make emergencies out of everyday life. It’s just asinine.

(know what else is asinine? That I’m just now catching up on reading blogs from two weeks ago)

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