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Exit ArchiveArchive for June 3rd, 2006

This post has derived from the discussion going on over at Thank Goodness This Didn’t Require a Senate Confirmation Hearing. You might wish to visit there to discover the origins of blinds, shades, whatever you want to call them.

What Matt is referring to is a little incident on our flight out to Oahu on Hawaiian Airlines in February. The sun was fairly low in the sky, but not blindingly low, and they had asked people to put their shades down to darken the cabin. (I call it a shade, not blinds, and thus my semantic confusion with Matt’s reference.) I didn’t shut mine because part of the deal with being on a plane is you get a wonderful view of the earth from way high up. Asking everyone to shut their window shades is horrible. See, instead of everyone being cooped up in their sad abodes watching crappy movies on their crappy TVs and ignoring the world outside, they are cooped up in a poorly-ventilated, flying cattle car watching crappy edited movies on miserably maintained LCD screens or projectors more crappy than their crappy TVs at home and ignoring the fact that they are FLYING VERY HIGH UP IN THE SKY! There should be no movies on planes. Only the Zen delight of soaring up over the landscape and clouds. It’s one of the only remaining delights of flying in this post-9/11-excuse world.

So I never close my shade on those rare occasions when I’m sitting by the window. I enjoy the sunlight and the view.

A stewardess (once again, the outdated title is deserved) came upon Matt and I to serve us food. Hawaiian Airlines is one of the very few airlines left that serves food on their flights, you see. Anyhow, as the woman came to us, she asked me, not politely but not rudely, to close my window shade. I said, “No, that’s okay. I’m using this,” as I pointed to the view of the ocean below. Her second, more horror-film-worthy personality surfaced without warning. She reached over and, slamming my shade down, said, “Just shut it!”

Wow. I was taken aback. I did not understand the vitriolic response. My only thought was that she was blinded by some kind of glare while trying to serve us and needed my window shut. If that were the case, she could have asked nicely and I would have done so. As it stands to this day, her actions were still uncalled for.

Just like the time back on a trip I was talking in the halcyon days of my youth, traveling with school friends. It was probably the national leadership conference thingy in Oklahoma City when I was in junior high. I do not think it was the high school trip to Europe, the one where we were on the TWA flight from Rome to Greece that, upon its return trip back to Rome, was hijacked by terrorists. This was the general belief on the tour bus the first morning after our flight, anyway, when we all found out about the hijacking. It may have been the same plane returning to Rome the next day, or it may not have been. I to this day believe it was the same plane because doing so creates a layer of mystery to my life that makes me prime meat on the dating scene. But this… this is simply too many digressions within digressions. Wherever it was I was heading as a young lad, I was a little upset that the best part of the meal on that flight was missing from my tray: the pickle. I asked the stewardess (no derision, for that’s what we were all calling them back then—though I guess that certainly is a weak excuse) if she could bring me a pickle since I did not get one. The look she gave reminds me now of a look Khandi Alexander might give as Catherine on NewsRadio. The stewardess said nothing, and walked away, leaving her withering stare behind to stir me into verbal rebellion with my friends. I do not have to finish this parenthetical by telling you I never got a pickle.

After Matt and I got our meals, window shade still smoking from the friction of being shut so quickly, my confusion was replaced by indignation. Screw this haughty air whore! I wanted my view! I put my shade two-thirds back up as soon as she moved away.

The sad thing about this is that, while I was in the middle of my little rebellious tiff and indignant fulmination, I was actually cowering inside, wondering if the polyester-enrobed sky harpy might return and some kind of altercation would ensue. Though I was ready to fight, I was cowering because I didn’t want to go through the nonsense of having to do so. Not on a flight to beautiful Hawaii.

The bitter vixen did not return, so I put my window shade all the way back up. The meal was abysmal.

So that, dear friends, is what Matt was talking about. In fact, this has turned into such a fantastic little essay, I’m going to give it a post all its own, an ancillary benefit being that the pathos of the original post won’t be sullied with tales of ill-tempered traveling termagants. (Yes, I had to find that word in the thesaurus.)