17
Apr
11

A Scene at the Airport

A couple days ago, I was stuck in Buffalo Niagara Airport. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) had shut down flights into Chicago for an hour, and the chaos that resulted wound up getting my flight canceled, and being the beginning of spring break, all other flights out were full until Sunday. Now I’m not a fan of airports (The increasingly Orwellian security screening especially, though with my black jacket, black beret, and Palestinian keffiah, I will admit I was daring them to “randomly” select me) but I try to keep things in perspective. With the majority of the world living in abject poverty, hunger, and lacking even the semblance of basic rights, getting one’s flight canceled isn’t so bad. So when I saw one of my fellow passengers pacing back and forth angrily, I shrugged and commented “Such is life”.

I shouldn’t have done that.

That passenger (a lawyer, from what I could tell) took my words not so much to be an observation about us having it relatively easy and more of an invitation to expound on exactly how awful it was that the flight was canceled and what idiots the airline employed and who was going to burn for eternity for this gross miscarriage of justice. Once the airline representative (I’m not entirely sure what else to call the guy that have at the gate) arrived to apologize and to help people find new flights, the lawyer rushed up to the counter to be the first in line- not because he was in a rush to be anywhere, but so that he could take forty-five minutes (no exaggeration) to chew the representative out.

Now let me paint a picture of the scene. On the right, we have the airline representative; a diminutive Hispanic man in a blue uniform with an ID card so large he might as well have been hanging an albatross around his neck (ten points to the first person to get that literary reference). Across the counter from him is the lawyer, medium build, graying hair, green legal paperwork, and a suit that was stolen from a yacht club in the mid 1950s. Behind him is a long line of irritated customers, who are wishing the lawyer would just make a decision already so they could get their turn calling the representative a liar and a scumbag. The whole thing could’ve been taken right from a Diego Rivera mural.

Now needless to say, I wasn’t exactly happy with the whole scenario. This lawyer was throwing a full-blown tantrum, berating and insulting the guy who was trying to help him, and all because his flight was canceled. When there are people in this world who will be lucky to live past the age of thirty, or who are faced constantly with the threat of genocide, enslavement, disease, drought, and starvation, having a flight canceled doesn’t seem so bad. Indeed, if the worst thing that happens to me all day is on the level of been stuck in an airport, I should be weeping tears of gratitude. Yet this smug, paper-pushing leech gets it into his head that he’s so important, he’s justified in spending nearly an hour railing on the one guy in the place trying to help him out.

I guess it got me thinking about the way people treat members of the working class- specifically waiters or customer service reps and the like. It seems the way our society is set up, we see people serving us not as people but just as means to an end. When we look at a waitress, as we seeing Jane Prol, who’s been working hard all day and has her own problems, or do we just see the thing (“person”, isn’t the right term) that will be bringing us our food? When there’s something wrong with the product we ordered, do we politely register a complaint with John Worker, who’s just a guy and doesn’t have all the answers, or we demand to know why we didn’t get what we wanted when we wanted it and what the company (because the voice at the other end of the phone controls the company) will do for us? Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems that we’ve become so consumerist, that not only are we focused on ourselves, but we’re egocentric to the point where we can’t even imagine there being anyone other than ourselves.

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