Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Iron Curtain of Class

Planes are strange.  At best you have an international flight with no creepy-yelling-Tourette's -lady, but foul smelling Herr-stanks-a-lot-von-Kaiser.  At worst you’re stuck with an Asian reeking of decade old kimchi and an infant that screams like Satan is tickling it’s taint with the sharp end of his trident.  My passport, my wallet all that can confirm or deny my identity is on this plane.  If I get up to stretch my legs or use the toilet, it could all be gone at the will of some asshole who thinks it might be fun to steal my stuff.  But it doesn't happen.  Further more people are (generally) on their best behavior on a plane.  Ass-hats will always exist--for the moment I’ll turn a blind end to a certain Jihad-ing band of said ass-hats--but for the most part, air plane ambiance is a model for human behavior.  

“Please sit down and fasten your seat beats.”  No one gets an attitude when they hear this; they just do it.  People don’t talk on their cell phones in the same obnoxious manner the do in the grocery store or bank, they even use their inside speaking voice when conversing with their neighbors,  People are generous and polite in their conversation and even cordial in making niceties they really don’t give a good-god-damn about with other people.  

How is this beautiful state of mass existence possible and can it be created outside of a plane?  I have no answers but if it wasn’t for the leg room I’d be all for trying to maintain the air plane atmosphere at all times.  

Oh yeah, and on some international flights the booze is free… that can’t hurt anything.   

Sadly our high altitude utopia is not as flawless as it seems.  There was a great divide on my flight, a separation of class among all the plane’s passengers if you will.  All the French people I spoke with were very kind and as genuine as you can expect a human being to be.  Now as for the bilingual staff… Wow, I’ve never seen such a superiority complex in a person before (and this is coming from a guy who wakes up in shock of his own sex appeal everyday).  Happily, there was only one person of this type on the plane to the best of my knowledge.  She went to the University of Wisconsin where she majored in French language studies--as she made it known she was an unpleasant person, I did all I could to learn about her as to properly represent/hate on her here in my blog.   She is all done with school and is a flight attendant for Northwest who apparently holds herself in higher esteem than all other non-French speaking Americans.  

Why?  Does the ability to speak another language actually set us apart; particularly if we share one in common?  Here, I bring up again that it was her, and not the native French people on the plane, that seemed pained--somehow offended--when she had to speak English… her native tongue.  To foreshadow my next blog entry, I bring this particular person up because during my trip I feel I discovered a bit of the Language of the World.  There is a universal denominator for communication and not it’s not American (or French) Idol.  I had a blast in France, and some of the best time I spent was in the company of people that didn’t speak English.  Mitigating circumstances didn’t allow me to learn even the most basic French, but that didn’t stop me from truly communicated with people.  How is a flight attendant, whom I did share a language with, was at such odds with with her native tongue?  

I am really good at reading people for first impressions, beyond the first one I don’t have much skill, or perhaps--more than likely--I lose interest in the individual to really notice how they act.  This particular flight attendant didn’t like me.  This was made apparent the more I made her answer my questions concerning her education, travel experiences and employment.  As the seven hour flight worn on, I failed to grow on her despite my best and repeated efforts.  I know what I did to pissed her off, and I wasn’t out of line.  Nonetheless, her visible contempt of having to speak to me in English in a section of the plane that was so heavily loaded with French people was really too much for me to handle.

An American on an airplane being an asshole stood in stark contrast to all the super polite Parisians, not to mention the almost over bearing generosity of the citizens of Bailleul, I dealt with in my seven days abroad.  And here I thought extreme douchebaggery was a French claim to fame.

Class has nothing to do with the price paid for a ticket character can’t be paid for and class--and the lack there of-- is an innate possession that can be shared but not sold.

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