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Monday, May 09, 2011

Who Said Airports Can't Be Fun?

I think I'm a pretty nice guy and I try to keep my grudge-holding to a minimum. But almost all cases where I find myself amid even the mildest of confrontations are results of someone else's actions precipitating my reactions. I'm rarely the instigator.

But I'm certainly far from perfect, and friends who've been on the receiving end of my self-righteousness would not contest this fact.

Still it was great fun getting in the face of a fellow traveler at LaGuardia Airport Monday afternoon.

Too many times I find myself thinking quietly in my head what I'd like to say or do, only to revert back to my polite Midwest manner and not take any action at all.

Today was a different story, however.

I watched a young, well-dressed Middle Eastern man with his Louis Vuitton carry-on bag and matching horn-rimmed glasses look right at a young mother with bags in both hands and a baby on her lap. She was in the aisle seat of my row near the back of the plane, but not making much effort to stand up. That's when Mr. Anxious, seated behind us, took a step forward and was standing even with our aisle. Once our group started moving, he walked ahead of us and that really bugged me.

I don't care that he didn't offer to help that slow mom, but I interpreted his blow-by to mean he felt he and his spot in the cab line that awaited were far too important for him to be bothered by unspoken rules of airplane etiquette. He was actually the middle violator of a total of three people who ignored the standard procedure. One was a woman, and as I've learned the painful way through living in New York for five years, females are officially allowed to do whatever they want. The first was an American male about my size. He set the trend and two others copied him because our weak culture is full of finger-pointing followers.

As I hustled into the terminal, striding far more briskly than I normally do, I walked past the woman and the American male, who by now was on his cell phone. So Mr. Anxious was my target.

As he turned left outside the airport, I was right on his heels walking toward the back of the taxi line. He claimed his spot in a line that was hardly single-file; I then slid between him and the gal in front of him. Here's what happened next:

Him: "Excuse me, sir?"

Me: (Nothing)

Him: "Sir?"

Me: "Yeah?"

Him: "Did you just step in front of me?"

Me: "Oh, did you step in front of me getting off the plane 10 minutes ago?"

Him: "No, I didn't."

Me: "I think you did. It's like church, dude. You let the people in front of you get out first."

He said something quiet and pouty, then accepted his spot behind me before muttering not quite entirely under his breath: "Insane."

Did this guy commit the crime of the century? Obviously not. In NBA parlance, he committed a ticky-tack foul, if even that. I certainly could have let it slide and I'll admit I've kept silent after witnessing far more offensive acts. But what I viewed to be his violation quickly became secondary. I was more interested in testing myself to see if I was actually going to make good on the tough talk going on in my brain during that long walk through the corridors at LaGuardia.

The original plan was to take the bus to the train to avoid the $35 cab ride, but it ended up all being worth it.