Quotes from the woman in row 24, a petite brunette with attitude whose voice carried straight to my seat.
"No I won't keep quiet! This is America. God, I don't live in Iraq or Afghanistan or Cuba...I'm allowed to ask questions! All I wanted to know, and it's a legitimate question, is whether I could be patted down by a guy. I mean, we assume that there's some kind of sexual thing or whatever, but what if my screener was a lesbian? Yeah? I don't want a lesbian running her hands all over my body. I'd rather just have one of the males do it and be done..."
(I smile here. It's true. No one, not even my boyfriend, gets to touch me like that in public. In full view of everyone who's coming up. I mean, the scanner was efficient, but she was still grabbing my boob.)
"ICEBERG lettuce? THIS is a salad? Look at how big the pieces are! I'm going to have to have a knife. You know, I'm not a vegetarian. Don't you have any options for those of us that can't have beef? What kind of an option is that? Beef or beef? And why is there no champagne?"
And from the row ahead, after we'd landed and were collecting our bags and stretching legs cramped nearly four hours into a few inches of space, "Huh. I saw YOU slept the whole time. Your eyes were closed...I kept looking back, and there you are, all of you, sleeping!" I'm still not sure why that was so wrong...but apparently, in this environment, not being fully aware of your surroundings will make other passengers hostile.
Of course, there were plenty of other reasons for hostility. New regulations that prevent "congregating" in the aisles or bathrooms meant that people were making mad dashes to beat out others to the open lavatories, and the aisle was dotted with standing passengers at regular three or four foot intervals, far enough away to not count as "congregating." Between the airport and the plane, everyone had been quite thoroughly patted, from the groin to the ponytail and everything in between. All their carry-on luggage was taken away, with arbitrary allotments for "small purses" and computer bags. That kind of treatment breeds discontent, especially when the airline charged them for the forced checked luggage. But that's a story for another blog post.
Suffice to say, this will probably make people think twice before buying a plane ticket if they can drive. I know I will.