Monday, July 10, 2006

America the Porcine

Image courtesy of
I just finished my stint as camp doctor yesterday, and we flew home last night. On the last one-hour hop from the hub city to our average town in the South, I encountered some behaviour that troubles me greatly. Delta Airlines' web-site would only allow me to book seats 10A and 11A, window seats, for my wife and myself on this regional jet flight. You know the planes, the ubiquitous CRJ 50 passenger jobs. I actually prefer them for shorter flights, and find them comfortable enough with 2 x 2 seating. I have never noticed any particular difference in the aisle seats, or the window seats. (You get a little more legroom in an emergency exit row.) I figured we might be able to trade seats once we got on the plane. Really, who would refuse to let a married couple sit together? As it turns out, the occupants of seats 10B and 11B did just that. These were well dressed and well-spoken people, who were travelling alone. When we very politely asked if one of them would be willing to trade, they rather coldly refused. It seems they MUST have the aisle seats on that particular plane, and, no, neither would consider sitting in the window seat. Both very smugly noted that they had selected their aisle seats online, and that was the end of that. My wife and I looked at each other and shrugged. The week before, when we flew to visit our relative with cancer, another passenger was making a fuss about wanting to sit by a window on the same hop. My wife and I agreed to sit separately on that occasion to accomidate this stranger. Apparently, what goes around doesn't always come around after all.
Have you tried to make reservations for much of anything lately? You will find that everything is snatched up as soon as it becomes available. We have become a nation of hoarders, more bluntly, a nation of pigs (which is an insult to pigs). We will shove anyone else out of the way to get our hands on anything we think we want or deserve. Our lives have become a big race to get to the goodies before the next guy, and make sure we get our share, and his too if we can manage it. This behaviour is not borne of need, simply of gluttony, greed, and entitlement. It is the same basic instinct that drives people to want their CT's when they want them, be it 3AM or 3PM, and the same motivation that keeps self-referrers self-referring. I guess it isn't unique to Americans, but we seem to be very, very good at it.
I have no answer for the implied question of what to do about our porcine behaviour. Perhaps if we keep in mind where bacon comes from......


Anonymous said...


The emergency exit seats on those little commuter jets are the closest thing to First Class.

As a former frequent flyer I can tell you that larger (anyone over 5'7", 140lbs) seasoned travellers will take a different flight to get one of those seats instead of being wedged into children's car seats elsewhere on the plane.

Let's assume you were in first class on a grown up jet. Would YOU move to a center seat in coach so that your neighbor in first class could sit next to his wife?

Of course not. That jerk would have to be from Long Island to make that kind of suggestion. You would immediately suggest that your neighbor swap his seat with the person sitting next to his wife in coach. After all HE wants the change so HE should take the downgrade.

Somewhere there is a travelling salesman blogging about Butthead Radiologists. :D

I enjoy the heck out of your blog. Keep up the good work and don't be such a weenie when you travel.

Charlotte, NC

Dalai said...

Glad you enjoy the blog, Greg. However, a careful read of the above post will redeem me from weenie status.

I did not ask anyone to trade out of an exit-row seat. Rather, I just wanted someone to trade an aisle seat for a window seat. Not a big deal, but it was to them. Obviously, I wouldn't try to trade into first in this manner. But then, I'm not from Long Island. (Don't you like Yankees?) Read the Post, Luke.