Turning Heads and other perspectives…

The warmth of the sun over the Monterey Peninsula seemed to beckon a soft good-bye to me as I lugged my overstuffed suitcase down the stairs enroute to the Embraer 120 prop plane (www.embraer.com) . It was a small plane that would carry me, and my more than three days worth of stuff, the first 80 miles on my journey towards home.

I had become accustomed to the fragrance that filled the air, so unlike many of the big cities that I had visited lately. This little burg was remote and beautiful, scented, and sweet, and I had come to really appreciate the vistas that were filling every crevice of my being. I was glad to be going home, yet sad to be leaving the story book that had enraptured me for the week.

Strolling through the aisle of the plane, I stumbled upon my aisle seat. I smiled at the woman in the window seat, saying a brief hello, trying to balance the right amount of acceptability with enthusiasm; friendly, yet not intrusive. Sitting down, I continued texting with a friend from home, until the flight attendant stood at the front reading the memorized script from the recesses of her mind, and I paid attention, for a change. I glanced at the woman next to me, for a pulse check, seeing if there was any interest in conversation, but my spidy sense didn’t register any! I glanced back at my phone, thinking about one more text as the Flight Attendant reminded us all to turn off our cell phones.

The woman across the aisle from me in the single row of seating, stared at me. My peripheral vision was aware of this as I continued to read my phone screen, yet I paid her no heed. The Flight Attendant began her walk through the aisle-way, as part of her initial cross-check. As she approached our row, row 6, the lady from across the aisle, waved her finger at the Flightie, making reference to the fact that my cell phone was not yet turned off. The Flight Attendant smiled at me, and said to the lady, ‘Oh, she is just turning it off now.” I complied, and as the Flight Attendant sat down in the front jump seat, I asked if I could change seats to sit in the one behind the intrusive lady since I was feeling less than warm and fuzzy at this point. She said, “No, not right now.” I thought, ‘Fine, I am stuck here’.

I contemplated the previous few minutes. How is it possible that complete strangers have the power to change my state of mind? At this point, I made a conscious decision that if somebody was going to mess with me, well then I would mess with them. I looked down at my now black and silent cell phone. It did have an On/Off switch and I, perhaps, did too. However, I was not about to be turned ‘off’ by someone else whom I didn’t even know or care about.

I started to move my fingers on the keypad, a well seasoned actor, texting to my imaginary friend over my imaginary network, looking for a shade of comfort in deception. Yes, I began messing with her mind. It was glorious. She stared at me, pondering her next move, fighting to control her ire for not playing by her rules. I continued faking it. Finally, she came into my personal space, and said, “Why are you continuing to use your phone when you have been directed not to?” I said, “Maybe you should JUST worry about yourself, and not worry about others so much.” Really, words to live by. She continued on, blathering away about the fact that the cell phone was supposed to be off. Finally, I held it up in her face. Black screen, no lights, dead to the world, and said, “Does this look ON to you?” She continued her rant and I repeated, “Does this look on?” I must have said it 10 times to her, not engaging any more than that. She finally said, “Shut up” and redirected her gaze straight ahead. Now, the person sitting right next to me was interested and said, “Do you know that person?” I said, “No, but she thought that she could tell me what to do.”

As the person on my left, across the aisle, slipped out of the picture, being replaced by the person on my right, my disbelief in people’s capability of rudeness was being replaced by another person’s kindness. The window seats’ occupant had become engaged by my antics. With this change in perspective, the dialogue continued, soothing, and calming and changing the subjects many times over, until we arrived in San Francisco, where we further continued on, over a quick meal, prior to the second leg of our journey.

The irony of this situation was not lost on me. The life lessons were twofold: sometimes when anger and frustration is dead in front of you, you need only turn your head to see another perspective, AND if everyone just worried about themselves, there would be a lot less strife in the world.

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4 Responses to Turning Heads and other perspectives…

  1. Chris says:

    If you think about it, it really was her business. The use of portable electronic devices has shown to negatively impact the safe operation of commercial aircraft. So, it was the business of everyone on the aircraft since everyone’s safety could be affected by the text messaging.

    She shouldn’t have been rude about it but it was well within her right to ask if the device was on or off. If someone was messing around with an overwing exit handle, do you think it would be rude to see that the behavior was stopped? In the end, you were breaking the law. Once the aircraft door is closed and the Cabin Crew makes their announcements to, among other things, turn off electronic devices. If all electronics are not off within a few reasonable seconds, the owner of the devise is breaking an F.A.R. 121 law.

    I hope this doesn’t come across as severe. I work in aviation safety and therefore it’s a subject that I’m naturally interested in.

    Perhaps this could be another perspective to consider.

    Safe Travels,

  2. Admin says:

    I would be very interested in obtaining concrete empirical evidence (controlled research) to show that portable electronic devices do interfere with flight safety.
    However, that being said, my issue was not one of right or wrong here, it was about an overzealous women freaking out before she needed to, and disrupting EVERYone’s flight, prematurely.
    Thanks for the insight though. I will look forward to some research coming down the pipe.

  3. Tim says:

    I used to work on the ramp at the airport. During training we were warned that the very first task that was to be performed on an arriving flight was to attach the grounding wire to the craft. Failure to do so meant certain electrocution for the first person to touch the airplane (static build-up during the flight). One day we received a memo that read (to paraphrase) “never mind”.
    I had the unfortunate pleasure of spending 5 days in our local ICU. We were told that under no circumstance was anyone to use cell phones in the hospital. Guess what… out the window the same day.
    I guess my point is, no-one really knows what the hell they’re talking about. Especially me.

  4. Susan says:

    I am a strict rule follower. If I’m @ the movies and they say “turn your cell phone off” I turn it off – that’s just the way I am. HOWEVER, I think we are all getting a little tired of being told what to do (all for our own good of course) and of everyday citizens taking it upon themselves to police us. Minding one’s own business seems to have become archaic.

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