I travel a good deal. For the most part, it’s great to have a change of scenery, see friends in various cities, and experience different traditions of each spot. But before all that can be enjoyed, there’s the getting there and the hassle of travelers.
For any trip, and generally speaking in life, I get the most frustrated in airports and on airplanes. I can usually zone out once in flight, but up until that point is when I tweet the most ridiculous reports of what’s going on around me and send out the most negative vibes in a short span of time. Between baggage handlers threatening to lose my bags if not tipped, to slow movers in the security line, to rude people pushing through line to get on the same plane, there are plenty of opportunities for frustration. People push my buttons, usually for being rude, inconsiderate, and/or way too selfish, and generally in uncalled for scenarios.
In one of my recent flights, I successfully made it on board and was trying to tune out ignorant conversation when I heard the young guy in front of me offer to trade seats. This may sound insignificant, but in the midst of all the stress of air travel, it’s not. People on this flight were avoiding eye contact and trying to steal window seats even though their tickets clearly stated otherwise. One lady had her purse in the seat next to her and twice ignored requests to stow it. Two other passengers passive aggressively stated to all walking by that they sure hoped the seat between them wasn’t taken. In the middle of this, this guy overheard a passing lady say hello to a friend and discover they were on the flight together. The lady checked her ticket and said goodbye to get to her seat, saying she would talk to her friend soon. The guy quickly offered to trade seats so the friends could sit together. He didn’t wait, hesitate, or check where she was seated. He easily offered and allowed the friends to chat on the flight.
In general, polite courtesies, thinking about others, and manners aren’t priorities anymore. It seems etiquette and good deeds most come up when there is benefit to self and usually someone to impress. This guy, who I had no interaction with the rest of the flight, inspired me to take just a bit of extra effort to tune into those around me. This guy wasn’t overly nice and didn’t have to do much, but he did way more than a lot of us can say we do in terms of accommodating fellow travelers and people we share space with.
Next time you’re in plane, train, automobile, bus, or the sidewalk, take some of your awareness to check in with those around you. Be polite. A little can go a long way and doesn’t have to cost you anything at all.
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