As a white, Catholic, middle-class, moderately weighted, heterosexual woman, I can’t say that I have experienced much discrimination in my lifetime. That is, until walking through an airport with young children.
You all know the stare… that “ohmygod, I hope they aren’t on my flight” stare. I likely gave it before having children, but now having received it myself, I have vowed never to give it again. I do, unfortunately, have another stare cued up.
I recently boarded a nighttime flight from Miami to Los Angeles. After boarding, I cozied into my window seat as much as possible, read a few pages of my book and passed out. Not twenty minutes later, I was awoken by a foul smell entering my dreamland. A neighbor noticed my confusion and pointed to the other side of the aisle, just 3 seats away.
There sat a man in nothing but moist boxers (yes, moist boxers, the evil sibling of the moist panty). And I had missed all the action.
Not long into the flight, said nudie started vomiting, out both ends. He then stood up and undressed himself down to his underwear, for obvious reasons, and returned to his seat. (The fasten seatbelt sign was illuminated, after all.)
Flight attendants soon entered the scene and excused the 30-something man to the lavatory, where he stayed for at least an hour before exiting only to sprawl out on the floor in the rear of the plane. Keep in mind, despite my overwhelming desire to be a compassionate person, poor in-flight ventilation meant that I was basically sitting in a cloud of bodily function. As the flight crew paged for any medical professional on-board, I was praying for three things*…
- That he lived
- That we avoided an emergency landing anywhere other than LA
- That someone packed a can of Febreze
(* not necessarily in that order)
Luckily there was a doctor suffering from the toxins enough to volunteer his services, who ultimately determined that the man was suffering from alcohol poisoning. Once asked what he had to drink before take-off, the dude admitted to fifteen shots of tequila. Needless to say, whatever shred of sympathy I had left in my body disappeared faster than the salt on his glass.
Admittedly, I have been in his shoes, and likely put my college roommate in the same smelly spot where I sat for hours. For that, I am very sorry. But come on. 15 shots in an airport bar?
Mothers of young children are always brainstorming ways to keep their children occupied during a flight, or be prepared to handle the consequences. I’ve seen a new trend in leaving a small goodie bag (candy, a Starbucks gift card, or even cash) with a note on the seats of surrounding passengers asking for their patience. Is that necessary? Absolutely not (in fact, I think it is propelling the stereotype), but it is a cute bandaid. Still, little precaution is taken for the less-suspecting traveler.
Clearly here is an enormous difference between the miracle of life (and whatever innocent inconveniences it brings) and the conscious choice to obliterate yourself before a flight to the point that you are shitting on everyone around you. Literally.
So, dude in the airport bar... I’ve got my eye on you.