A passenger is facing possible charges after abusing airline staff when the woman in front of him refused to turn off her reading light during an overnight flight, it was reported recently.
When airline staff told him the woman was entitled to keep her light on, he began swearing and threatened to keep kicking the back of her seat if she didn’t do what he asked, which sounds very mature. Earlier this year a similarly nasty row erupted after a passenger put his seat back while the person behind him was eating his meal, and refused to put it forward again.
There, but for grace of God, go any of us. Who read- ing this hasn’t had — or nearly had — a heated row in confined quarters such as an aeroplane?
On an international flight recently, I turned around to tell the woman behind me to stop kicking my seat. I saw she had moved seats and put her young son behind me. I asked her sweetly if she would mind explaining to the child not to kick, or moving him back to the empty middle seat. She nodded blankly and did nothing. The child kicked my seat for the rest of the trip.
With difficulty, I’ve learned to manage my anger. In the past, I’ve had road rage; significant neighbour rage; and even (ironically) a case of yoga rage, a real phenomenon prompted when students don’t let others in between two mats. I loathe bad manners, and I’ve had ongoing movie rage with crunching and unwrapping, and now with the new torture: mobile screens shining in front of our eyes.
But air or road rage will earn you a police record nowadays. And also, having been the subject of other people’s rage on occasion, I believe that lashing out — past a certain point — is unacceptable.
We humans are an aggressive breed, there’s no denying it. And we are territorial. Our seat is our space; our tree is our tree; the imaginary fence tells others not to spray our turf. My cats have taught me how import- ant boundaries are in animal behaviour. Cats can have cat spats, but we really can’t afford to, even though our instincts prick up when people are idiotic, ill- mannered, inconsiderate or unreasonable.
I know my friends reading this will laugh, knowing how strongly I react to bad manners. But I try to keep a lid on it, and I wish others would too. Recently, a couple came and sat right next to me in a totally empty IMAX theatre, and chomped. I moved without attempting to tip the popcorn on the man’s head. I didn’t utter a word. If I can turn the other cheek in the face of such infuriating idiocy, anyone can.