You Were One of Them, Once


I try very hard to not use this blog as a vehicle for pointless ranting, but on occasion, I just have to get it out. Today I read that some airlines are now having child-free seating. I have high hopes for asshole-free seating, but the screening process may be too subjective. I’m fed up with people complaining about everything under the sun, but the vitriolic rants unleashed about children and parents alike are getting out of hand.

I don’t have a natural affinity for kids. I’ll be honest. I’m fond of quiet environments. I don’t like my seat being kicked or finding stray boogers attached to arm rests. But, holy shit, when did our intolerance for humankind become so high that we now need to travel in our own little bubbles?

I don’t think my little darling is the center of the universe (mine perhaps, but not everyone else’s). When she was a toddler, I had to swiftly escort her from a grocery store when she had a temper tantrum. Of course, I did not escape without being glared at – it was humiliating.  Parenting is hard, but apparently being a spectator is even worse. And please don’t regale me with bullshit tales about how your parents beat you into submission or silenced you with a glance. And that you never acted up or were tired or hungry or scared. You need to sit in the memory-free section, apparently.

Intolerance has reached an all-time high in our society, where people are allowed to sue and rail against and be indignant about and indulged over every petty little irritant, all while living in their annoying and hypocritical glass houses, yakking on their cell phones and snipping their toenail clippings off in every direction. Humans are annoying. Little humans are annoying, too – they’re just slightly more ignorant about that fact.

Kids aren’t for everyone. I get it. But neither are crabby old people and boorish salesmen and perfume-y blabbers or depressed slackers who smell like smoke or uptight business people attached to their umbilical cords of technology and miniature booze bottles. Everyone likes to think that they are models of decorum, even if they whistle when they breathe, crack their knuckles, shake their leg nervously, expel heavy sighs every two minutes or have to get up to pee every five. Loud people, smelly people, cranky people, lonely people – which are you today and why should I put up with it?

I’ll tell you why. Because none of us are any more special than the other. We’re humans. I am a naturally irritable person and I have a low sensory tolerance for all kinds of shit. But is that your problem? Are your behaviors any less legitimate than my pissiness? It’s on me to cultivate compassion and tolerance. It is my responsibility. What someone else does, unless it endangers my safety, is a gift, an everyday challenge to my abilities to be tolerant, to not rage, to not believe that my space and time should be an inviolate temperature-controlled soundproof buffer zone at all times.

There’s a lot of people on this planet. Airlines are doing their best to keep a flailing industry aloft by screwing over their economy passengers with miniscule seat space and a passenger starvation plan. I get claustrophobic just looking at the picture of airline seats. I’m pretty sure as kids, most of us weren’t shoved elbows to ass into a tin can and asked to respect each others’ space/privacy/knees jammed into the back of the seat.

They’re creating box seats for the corporate elite and are growing a segregated seating system. Does anybody remember sucking secondhand smoke during an entire flight? With how many more irritations will we feed airlines’ sagging bottom lines? They are doing their damnedest to turn us all into intolerant jerks. I want, I deserve, you have no right to, you shouldn’t… It reminds me of Dr. Doolittle’s Pushmi-pullyu with decency stuck squarely in the middle. This sense of entitlement to a pristine environment is a losing game on a planet with 7+ billion people.

We’re getting ready to take our daughter on her first airline flight this next year. The intolerant better hope they don’t end up sitting next to me. They’ll wish they’d purchased a ticket in the snore and vomit-free seating section.