The Other Two Americas
Our country is not split along partisan lines alone. On United Airlines, you can listen to tower communications with all aircraft at the pilot's discretion. To me, pilots are kind of sexy (unresolved daddy issues, no need to email me about this), so I geek out on this kind of pleasure when I can. An elderly couple across the aisle was enjoying this feature of our eight-hour flight, too, but they didn't seem to understand that they could take the headphones off at some point and use their inside voices, so they kept them on the whole time and TALKED VERY LOUDLY. Everyone forward of the tail section of the massive 777 got to hear the conversation of these two geezers, which went something like this:
"DID YOU HEAR THAT, HONEY? AN ASIAN PILOT! HE'S FROM JAPAN! I COULDN'T UNDERSTAND A WORD HE SAID! I'M GLAD WE'RE NOT ON THAT PLANE!"
"WHAT DO YOU THINK UNITED 2 'HEAVY' MEANS? DID YOU SEE A LOT OF FAT PEOPLE UP THERE?"
"WHAT THE HELL?! A FEMALE FLYING A PLANE! WHOO BOY, I SURE AM GLAD WE'RE NOT ON THAT PLANE!"
"IT SURE IS STUPID THAT YOU CAN'T HEAR THE MOVIE BACK HERE. THEY SHOULD FIND SOME WAY TO PUT IT IN THE HEADSET."
"HOW DO YOU WORK THE LIGHT?" (said as finger pushes button over and over, making strobe effect with reading light overhead)
The flight attendants, whose job it would normally be to handle this kind of buffoonery, were distracted by some belligerent ass in the row in front of me who was just sure he had heard one of the flight attendants say "shit" in front of his kids. And he wasn't letting it go. For six hours, there was mediation between the ass, the young and admirably professional flight attendant in question, and the flight purser. By the time we landed, the pilot was involved and charges were going to be filed by the ass, who was NOT going to leave the plane until he got to talk to someone from United.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the ass was a massive white guy whose impressive musculature was apparently built to support the enormous chip on his shoulder. The flight attendant was smallish African-American guy. As for the buffoons in 51H and 51J––they were wearing Bush/Cheney '04 buttons.