Sunday, October 14, 2007

Excessive Rudeness in the Big City

Now that I live in a smallish town in the Pacific Northwest (Bend, Oregon; population 76,000), I've become a bit… uh, critical of big cities. I'm so used to smiling neighbors, thoughtful commuters, pleasant store clerks, and casual but friendly attitudes that I'm totally shocked when rude people rear their ugly heads. Just at first, though. Then I get used to it and sort of accept it as the norm for whatever city I happen to be in. I can't knock another city's culture. That would be, uh, rude. Do you see the irony here?


I'll give you an example of what I'm talking about. When my husband and I traveled to Denver in September, we had a connecting flight in San Francisco. Wow, what a big airport. We got to our gate and were astounded at the number of people flying to Denver. Holy crap! It was standing room only and lots of crowding going on, like people thought cutting in line was going to get them to Denver sooner than anyone else. Hello! It's one big plane, people. We're all going to get there at the same time. Sheesh!

An airline employee started calling out the seating numbers, first class being first, of course. Then came seating 2, and the line began to bulge in the middle. When seating 3 was announced, there was a massive surge of bodies wielding carry-ons bigger than the two bags my husband and I checked in. People were shoving each other! Being the economy travelers we are, hubby and I hung back with our seating 3 boarding passes, as we were in no big hurry to beat someone else onto the plane. That was just silly. But seating 4 passengers were already shoving their way to the front of the line. Airline attendants were shouting and pushing them back, telling them to wait their turn. It was a freak show. I wouldn't have been terribly surprised if someone pulled out a gun to threaten the next guy who dared butt in line. But of course airport security had prevented such a faux pas.

Did the shoving and rudeness and animal-like behavior cease once onboard? Hell no. To top it off, United seated my husband and I a row apart from each other so we had to sweet-talk an irate passenger into giving up his aisle seat so that we could sit together. Around us there was great jostling of carry-ons, with people cramming suitcases the size of grade schoolers into the overhead compartments. They're lucky no one was injured. Hey, it came close a couple of times. I'm a witness.

The airlines should offer discounts on these kinds of flights. And charge extra to the selfish, single-minded, self-absorbed idiots with the manners of a baboon in the Martha Stuart section of the department store. No manners, no taste, no style.

Okay, rant over. I'm still amazed at what we went through. Does that mean I'll never fly again? No. But I'll probably avoid San Francisco as the connecting city for future trips. I like Portland much better. And the WiFi there is free.

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