Did you ever NOT speak up when you really wanted to rip into someone? Then, after keeping your mouth shut, you gave yourself a good talking to about it for days, because you SHOULD have spoken up at that moment no matter how crazy things were or what the consequences might have been? Well, I had one of those moments last week and I'm still mad at myself about it!
I take a round-trip Continental Airlines flight between Los Angeles and Cleveland several times a year. In the past three months I've taken it three times; but for last week's trip I was nervous about the Swine Flu. Yes, I was the only paranoid passenger wearing a surgical mask and wiping down my tray table with disinfectant. People were looking at me like I was a nut case but I figured better safe than sorry. But my mask was not what made this flight so unusual.
This flight was packed-- really packed, especially for a Monday afternoon. Before long, the overhead compartments were filled with business men's carry-on suitcases and their briefcases-- Because gawd forbid anything ever went under the seat in front of a businessman.
When businessmen are traveling together, it's pretty easy to tell who the "Boss Man" is and who the "Worker Bees" are. Translation-- the Boss is usually a pompous jerk who wants everyone around him to know that HE'S "the boss" while the Worker Bees are bowing and trying to please his sorry ass. This flight was no exception.
(Of course not all businessmen are this way but I've known and seen more than my share over the years so I'm pointing the finger at them in relationship to this story. I know there are some really great businessmen out there too.)
Back to the flight...
We had a perky, 50-something flight attendant with short reddish-brown pixie hair and super strong arms and legs. I knew they were strong because she was slinging suitcases and climbing on seats to push bags around in the overhead bins like they were filled with feathers. But the more bags she shuffled, the louder her "I'm not loving my job" attitude came across.
She stood out from the the attendants in part because her dress was too short and we saw way more of her than we needed to see-- if you catch my drift, and in part, because she was, well, bitchy-- in a perky kind of way. When the overhead bins were full she'd slam them shut and gave anyone who tried to open them the evil eye before directing them to an open bin instead.
Anyway, on this flight, was a very polite, very nice, and very young, United States Marine traveling with his Dress Blues uniform in a special hanging bag that left no doubt it was "official" in United States Marine Corps. packaging. You've seen these fancy uniforms before in a military color-guard or other special military events. Their high collars, crisply pressed with striking trim, are very Proud-To-Be-An-American looking. These aren't the every-day uniforms and you take notice when you see a Marine wearing one-- or carrying one.
Our young Marine carried his Dress Blues with great respect like it was fine crystal. So you can only imagine how very careful and thoughtful he was about where he placed his Dress Blues in the overhead bin. He scoped out the perfect spot after everyone else had stashed their carry-ons and after Miss Bitchy-Perky flight attendant had closed the overhead bins declaring them full. Then he carefully opened the perfect bin with room to spare, and without moving anyone else's gear, gently laid his uniform bag on top before closing the bin, which happened to be directly over my head. I literally saw him breathe a sigh of relief when his Dress Blues were in a safe place. Phew! Thank gawd Miss Bitchy-Perky hadn't see him.
Do you think that was the end of it? Not even close.
One of the very last passengers to board was a pain in the butt Boss Man traveling with a Worker Bee. The Boss primped and strutted his way to the back of the plane making sure everyone knew that he usually flies First Class but "his" Worker Bee (as if he owned him) had screwed up his reservation and he had to sit in the "cheap seats" with the rest of us peasants. He stopped at the empty seat in front of me and almost smacked right into Miss Bitchy-Perky; who told him to turn around and check his bag at the door. All bins were full.
Check his bag? Over his dead body!
Boss Man treated Bitchy-Perky like she was invisible and proceed to open the full bin with the Dress Blues, directly above my head. He started shoving and pushing bags around, pulling other people's stuff out, and then slung his way-too-big-to-even-be-on-the-plane-suitcase directly on top of the United States Marine's Dress Blues uniform bag.
Then, before the poor Marine could fly out of his seat, three rows back, to save his Dress Blues, Boss Man barked at Worker Bee to hand him his briefcase (which the Worker Bee was actually carrying for him along with all his own crap!) and tried to cram the briefcase in on top of the Dress Blues too!
Well, you can imagine the tizzy Miss Bitchy-Perky flew into over Boss Man's bags. At the moment she happened to be carrying an arm load of blankets over her head (Why they were over her head, I do not know.). She did one of those things you see two years olds do in a temper tantrum-- She dropped her arms like wet noodles and let the blankets fall-- on my head. (Ewwww-- those things are nasty and I was sure the Swine Flu was all over me! Thank gawd for the mask and wipes!) Then she started pointing her finger and yelling at Boss Man-- who yelled back. Meanwhile the poor U.S. Marine was all "Sir and "Ma'am" trying to get to his uniform out of the middle of all this before his perfectly pressed Dress Blues looked like an old dish rag.
Miss Bitchy-Perky was really bitchy now and pulled the uniform bag from under Boss Man's suitcase, crushing it over her arm. When the polite United State Marine asked for the uniform, Bitchy-Perky did the exact same thing with his uniform that she did with the blankets. She dropped it on the floor!!!!
Oh! My! Gawd!
Still sitting in my seat and without saying a word, I picked up the uniform to hand it to the Marine and Bitchy-Perky actually snatched it out of my hands and, after yelling at Boss Man one more time, threw the Dress Blues on the floor again! And deliberately stood on it!
By now our Marine was about to pop his poor shaved head off with politeness and a massive dose of urgency-- PPPLLLEEEEAAASSSEEEE MA'AM-- It's my DRESS UNIFORM!
Finally, major back-up was coming from every direction with the other two flight attendants and the gate attendant RUNNING down the aisle towards us. Boss Man was raging, Marine was nearly in tears, Bitchy-Perky was beyond crazy rude and I was sitting silently in the middle, wearing a surgical mask, trying to get the United States Marine's Dress Blues out from under the bitch's firmly planted foot.
It took seconds for the back-up staff to settle matters and people scattered. In the end, butt head Boss Man got all of his crap in the overhead storage bins. The poor Marine actually had to check-- in the belly of the plane-- his Dress Blues that were stored in a safe place way before Boss Man ever stepped foot on the plane. (Turns out he was wearing his Dress Blues at a military funeral the next day.) And Miss Bitchy-Perky was never seen again-- EVER. I don't know if she got off the plane or if she hid in the galley, but she was G O N E.
Maybe it's a good thing she went missing in action, because if she's passed me a bag of nuts and a cold drink mid-flight, I would have had a few choice words for her. By then things had calmed down enough for me adjust my surgical mask, gather my thoughts and, instead of being stunned by her horrible behavior, I was just plain pissed off. I'd have let her have it in a calm enough fashion that I doubt I would have been arrested when we landed in Los Angeles-- but I would have made the point that her disrespect to the United States Marine and his Dress Blues uniform was totally unacceptable.
I was angry because we weren't talking about a little league baseball uniform, a Girl Scout uniform or a Mickey Mouse costume. It was clearly a United States Marine's Dress Blues uniform. There was no doubt about that fact. If you can't show respect for our enlisted man or woman, who the hell can you show respect for-- especially in this day and age?!?
But at the time, it happened all so fast and I didn't say a word. I'm still thinking about that Marine and the funeral he was participating in wearing the crushed uniform the next day. It burns me up that 2 minutes and 2 idiots could shatter something so small yet so major all at the same time.
I'm no shrinking violet. In fact, my "strong personality" has been pointed out to me many times in the past. But at that moment, the opportunity to stand up to a bully passed.
I know, I know-- Day late and a dollar short. It won't happen again.
Welcome to TheFiftyFactor - Joanna