Thursday, February 21, 2008

Airport Hijinks

A funny thing happened this week during my travels. I arrived at the Tulsa International Airport (of which I am intimately familiar) to find a man sprawled out face down on the sidewalk in front of the door. There were several emergency vehicles and, in no small part because it was the most fascinating event to happen in weeks, the TIA security/police detail. I gawked, of course, as they helped the man sit upright and spoke to him in childish overtones. They were no doubt trying to dissuade a potential lawsuit due to the teeny bit of ice, which crouched in a minute corner, the guy perhaps purposefully stepped on to fall. It got me thinking. If it were truly an accident, I am full of pity and empathy. If not, screw him. It is that type of individual which perpetuates our increasingly litigious society for unfounded gain. The funny thing is, I have seen this type of scenario play out many times while waiting for a flight and rarely do I give it a second thought. Once however, it affected me. Bitter I was.

It was in St. Louis, American Airlines, the flight was slightly delayed (I know, shocker) and the flight attendants were lined up next to the gate agent stand waiting to board. A woman standing in line at the counter, arguing an absurd case for seat changes (on a full flight I might add), stepped back in disgust, turned to return to her seat and tripped on the rubber threshold between terrazzo flooring and carpet. The nearest flight attendant, with baggage in tow, turned and immediately offered apologies for the poor woman’s trip over what he thought was his roll-aboard luggage. I watched the drama unfold. The woman was face down, which I am sure hurt like hell, then her entire family came to the rescue. She was fine, embarrassed I’m sure, but nonetheless unhurt. What happened next really pissed me off. See I was the next name on the upgrade standby list. It was a certainty I would spend my airtime in the bliss of over sized navy blue leather with free cocktail in hand. Such was not to be. Not only did I not receive my upgrade, but the entire family of 4 was upgraded after a spectacular feat of dramatic acting. So, finally aboard, I offered my name and contact info to the poor flight attendant as I told him the REAL story of what happened. It was never his fault; she didn’t trip over his bags. She tripped over a dumb ass piece of rubber on the floor and ruined my last leg home while doing so.

So yesterday, upon my arrival at the airport in San Antonio, I stepped off the escalator to see a woman sprawled out on the floor. She was surrounded by medical technicians and emergency personnel. All I could do was roll my eyes and be thankful I was arriving rather than departing…no chance for her to steal my upgraded seat. At the risk of sounding like a cynical jackass, I did have some pity, for I’m sure it hurt; but I can’t help but wonder if it was really an accident or a flair for the dramatic. Hmm…just like trying to guess the number of licks to the center of a tootsie roll pop, the world may never know. Maybe I am now tainted as a cynic for life…I hope not, but the more I see those acts unfold, the more I shake my head in disgust. Travel safely, and watch your damn step, I'm not losing my seat again for those who feel they are entitled to more than is due!

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