May 31, 2000
No, we can't all get along
by stacy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
It is human nature to get violent when all else fails. "All else" very often refers to a rather feeble Plan A, which, when unsuccessful, gives way to Plan B, a right cross followed by a quick uppercut. Kicks to the groin are always acceptable, too, if somewhat harsh.
That's a pretty sad observation, but it seems to be true. We have no patience with other people, and when another person does something we don't like, the first instinct might be to try to talk it out, but we get tired of that after about 10 seconds, and then we want to fight. The thinking goes, "If I could just smack (punch, hit, slap, wallop, etc) that guy, I'd get through to him."
I began these reflections last week while I was on an airplane and observed a series of events that were both humorous and a little unsettling. A teenage boy was sitting in the row in front of me, and a middle-aged man sat directly in front of him. The man had leaned his seat back too far for the boy's liking, and so he tapped the man on the shoulder and asked him to move it up. The man ignored him. The boy then kicked the man's seat a few times and made some comments about rude people.
The man was not pleased.
He waited a few minutes until the boy wasn't paying attention to him, and then he turned around and smacked the kid on the head. It wasn't a hard smack, and I doubt it even hurt, but it was enough. The kid's grandmother was sitting across the aisle, and she leapt up and started yelling. Loudly. In very un-grandmotherly language. She would have torn into the man herself but he was sitting in the window seat and she would have taken out two innocent bystanders in the process. While all this was going on, the flight attendants noticed the commotion and came to the area to take charge of the situation. A few minutes later the boy's father, who had been sitting in the back of the plane, came up to see what was going on, and then he started threatening to sue the guy.
Nothing else very interesting happened after that. The flight attendants told the man that he couldn't just go around hitting people, no matter whether they kicked first, and that the kid was under 18 made things very bad. They told the grandmother and the father to sit down and let them handle things, and they took the kid to sit in first class. The police escorted the man, the kid, and the kid's family off the plane as soon as we reached the airport, but nothing must have come of it because the man was back on after the stoppover and we took off again. I wouldn't be too surprised if he gets sued over all this.
The moral of the story seems to be, if you get hit on a plane, they'll let you go to first class. However, the more important thing to learn from this is, violence may be what will solve the problem (the kid didn't kick the guy anymore, did he?) but you'll just get yourself sued in the process.
I don't know what I want to PFFT! more. The kid started all of it with the kicking, but if the guy had listened and put his seat up in the first place, none of this would have happened. I want to PFFT! people who get violent over stupid things, and I want to PFFT! people who say "Can't we all just get along?" too cause it's pretty darn obvious that we can't.
P.S. The Cure was on that flight. I think the kid got to sit across the aisle from them, but I'd be surprised if he'd even heard of them. Serves him right. If it had been N'Sync or any other group he knows of, it would have been too cool for him.
Published: May 31, 2000