Hello friends! Please forgive the lengthy delay in seeing new blog posts on Chez Suzette. The real job has been very demanding this year and has left little time for blogging. At the end of a busy day or week, do I work on the blog or make dinner? Feed the cat? Going to the grocery store usually wins out or else I can’t do either of those two things. I have a plan to get back into a more regular schedule, so thanks for your patience.
Along with the time requirements of the real job comes frequent air travel. Lately I’ve been reading and hearing everywhere about the perils and unfortunate happenings of air travel, from massive delays to passengers being dragged off planes. Not long ago I got stuck in another city for two days when weather complications all but shut down flights in and out of Atlanta’s airport. On Day Three I finally rented a car and drove home. Like many travelers, I’ve witnessed a few unhappy passengers as well as encountered flight attendants who acted like they’d rather be anywhere else than doing their job (thankfully those have been rare.)
Lately civility seems to be under siege everywhere I turn. Is air travel becoming the new road rage?
When squeezed into a long metal tube hurtling above the earth at 30,000 feet, I try my best to practice The Golden Rule. I make it a point not to do anything to anyone else within that confined space that I wouldn’t want done to me. Travelers just want to get from here to there on time and with minimal discomfort. In addition, I just want the thing to get back onto the ground safely.
I will admit to a couple of pet peeves, though. I hate it when the person behind me kicks my seat, or taps their foot against the bottom, or any other movement that transfers up and into my body. It’s like someone standing next to you and incessantly tapping you on the shoulder with their finger. And the other is when someone gets up out of their seat or comes down the aisle and reaches out to grasp my headrest…especially if it’s from behind and I don’t see it coming. When you’re working, reading or sleeping it’s like being jolted awake. Airplane seat backs are not handrails! So one of my rules? Keep my hands in my own personal space, and try like hell to keep them out of yours. (Okay, a third peeve is when someone brings really smelly food on the plane — onions are NEVER a good idea.)
But in my book, life is too short to contribute to unhappy travel experiences. Knowing that the airline employee on the other side of that counter has all the power, despite what may have happened with a flight cancellation, delay or other issue, I keep calm and stay understanding. Remember, The Golden Rule. I really want the person who controls my destiny in that moment to want to help me.
Patricia Marx, contributor to The New Yorker and author of Let’s Be Less Stupid (I just love that title), writes “Unless you’re a bird, air travel foments bad behavior. Here’s the thing about plane rage: Unlike breaches of civility that occur on land, the airborne kind cannot be walked away from.” When your fellow passengers misbehave, she advises embracing the madness.
So I advise to use your power to do good. When you find yourself in a not-so-good situation, instead of getting angry could you offer to help? Kindness matters. Let’s make kindness unconditional.
And if you ever find yourself in the Atlanta airport and have a few minutes and you need a weary traveler boost, I encourage you to experience the art installation filling a 450-foot walkway between Concourses A and B. The ceiling overhead has been transformed into a rainforest canopy, complete with the sounds of raindrops and chirping birds and frogs called Flight Paths by artist Steve Waldeck. You just can’t help but look up when you walk under it and it always makes me smile. Such a bright spot to encounter, especially when I’m returning from a trip. I’ve been known to follow the moving walkway to the end, and turn around and go back again just so I can experience it over and over.
And if you ever find yourself sitting behind me on a plane, please do your best and try not to kick my seat, okay? I will be ever so grateful.