Thursday, February 3, 2011

on purposeful inconsideration.

thanks, google images.

on my way to seattle, the plane ride was semi-uneventful, but there was a small incident that i'm still thinking about.  

i had started out the weekend with a head cold and was pretty miserable during the flight, where my sinuses burned so badly that at times it brought tears to my eyes.  i tried reading the book i had borrowed, "the glass castle," but after about 5 minutes of burning sinuses, i couldn't concentrate on the words anymore, so i had to stop.

i decided to cover my mouth and nose and just watch the people on the plane.  covering my nose seemed to help for some reason.  i'm really curious about other people, i like to watch them and try to imagine what their lives are like.  might sound boring to some, but it's interesting to me.

there was the hairless-armed man who was the closest to me, with only an empty chair between us.  i probably wouldn't have noticed his hair-free arms except that he was also a germaphobe and anti-bacterialized himself a good 13-15 times during our 3 hour flight.  i couldn't help but notice his routine.  he would pull out one of the airline brochures from the back of the seat in front of him, flip through it quickly, put it back, then anti-bacterialize himself.  then pull out another, flip through it, put it back, anti-bacterialize.  

repeat, repeat, repeat.

i watched him do this little pattern, drawing attention to his hands and arms, when i noticed that his arms were smoother than my little leah's.  they were completely hair-free.  i know there are people who do this, even men who do this.  for some reason though, it took me a little off-guard.  i assumed that his need to be germ-free and arm hair-free probably coincided.  and i'm not going to lie, i was kind of tempted to ask him to roll up his pants so i could see if his legs were hair-free too.  don't worry, i didn't ask him.  but the thought crossed my mind.

once he was finished with each of the brochures, he settled down a little bit and began to read his own book, which apparently he is comfortable with his own germs because he put the hand-sanitizer away.

i have to say, i took a little comfort in knowing that he has bigger germ issues than even i do.  and that's something.  it's always nice to know there's someone more intense about things than you are, walking around out there, isn't it?

so anyway, my attention diverted to the row of guys diagonally to the right of me.  sitting with their ipods in, playing games on their phones.  kind of boring.

but then, a blonde stewardess came along to ask them what they wanted to drink.  i heard them say, "cranberry juice, diet coke, ginger ale" and i remember thinking that cranberry juice was an interesting choice for a mid-twenties guy to want to drink on a plane, when the stewardess asked me what i would like.  

she took about 20 orders, then went to the back of the plane to get the drinks ready.

about 2 minutes later, a brunette stewardess showed up at the same row of guys to ask them what they wanted to drink.  i assumed they'd tell her that their drink order had already been taken, but instead they said the same thing, "cranberry juice, diet coke, ginger ale" without hesitating for a second.  the thought actually crossed my mind that they might be slow enough to not realize that they were going to get two separate drinks.

she turned to me to ask me what i wanted, so  i let the brunette stewardess know that my drink order had already been taken, and wanted to point that the 3 guys' orders also had, but i hesitated.  i wanted to see if it was an honest mistake, or what they would say to the stewardess who showed up with the second set of drinks.

well, the brunette stewardess {the one who asked them for their drink order second} showed up first.  they took the drinks, put their earplugs back in their ears, and resumed playing phone games.

a few minutes later, the blonde stewardess showed up, her arms full of two trays of drinks.  she stopped at the row with the 3 guys first.  they all had their heads bent, looking like they didn't see her.  i watched the confusion on her face, then watched her mentally count up the rows to double-check herself, then look down at their drinks again.  finally she shrugged, and walked over to me to give me my drink.

as she handed me my ginger ale, i saw it from the corner of my eye.  the 3 guys looked over at her and busted out laughing.  she didn't notice, but i did.  the whole thing had been on purpose, and even though it was a small thing, it bothered me.

these guys were in their mid-to-high-20's, waaaay past the age where i would have actually expected this sort of thing.  

again, i know that in the grand scheme of life, this doesn't even come close to a big deal.  but i found myself wanting to ask them why they wanted to make things harder on this flight attendant than they needed to be.  why didn't they just do the right thing and tell the brunette stewardess that their drink order had already been taken?  or at the very least, when the blonde one came with the second set of drinks, acknowledge her and apologize for the extra work she'd done?

i stewed about it for a few minutes.

i don't understand purposeful unkindness, and inconsideration for others.  if you're ignorant and doing it, that's one thing.  but i don't understand being unkind just to get a good laugh with your friends.

i became defensive of her, that blonde flight attendant, because i think i saw myself in her.

i remember being a waitress off and on for about 4 years.  and i remembered serving guys just like these, the ones who get their order and act like they're unhappy about it just to get free food. or you hear them snicker as you walk away with their plate in hand because they've requested to have the pickles on their hamburger hand-grilled by the chef.  {true story}  and you do it, as their waitress, not only because you are working for $2.25 an hour and really, really need their tips, but also because if that really is the way they like their pickles, then you want them to be happy.

even those who i would serve food to, that acted like i was a piece of nothing, and tipped me change from their pocket when i had worked so hard and everything had been just as they had asked.

i know that the people who act this way are usually like this either because they were raised by parents just like them and truly don't know any better, or because they're unhappy with themselves. 

but it's hard not to take it personally sometimes, or at the very least be annoyed with the fact that they're letting out their issues to make your life harder.

there are a lot of things about the history of humans that disturbs me.  that anyone would intentionally hurt or be unkind another human being is hard for me to wrap my brain around.  i have "do unto others as you would have them to do unto you" ingrained in my being.  and i feel this way about the small things, like tipping well for food service, or letting someone get in front of you during a traffic jam even when you're late, and like this drink order thing was.

well, after that little incident i tried to get back to my burning sinuses and book.  "the glass castle" is about the resiliency of the human spirit in really awful conditions.  and as i read i realized that this is what life is really about.  not that i've had an awful life, especially compared to the children in that book, but more that in life there are instigators and reactors....and i think much of my life has been spent being a reactor to negative instigators.  letting others' unkind actions hurt me, or even affect me.

i am learning to let these things go, to not take someone else's issues upon myself while still being myself, and not becoming callous.  and some times it's easier than others.  but no matter what, there will always be jerks on the airplane, or road rage in the traffic jam, or business men who are too enveloped in their own lives to tip a poor college student waitress a measly 10-15%. 


but, there will also always be the blonde flight attendant letting the immaturity of 3 guys go without making a big deal of it, or the nice guy letting people edge their cars in front of his even though he's already let about 5 cars in front of him, or the random family that not only tips well at a restaurant, but then takes the time to fill out a complimentary card about how great their watiress was to them.  

and then the short, tired waitress with dimples gets to stand in the back room by the pies and read their kind words, and smile because this one note made the rest of the unkind people worth it.



Rachel Holloway said...

Beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

Rachel Chick said...

You're lovely, Lynsey. Truly. I so admire the person that you are.

Lindsay Jane said...

1. Maybe the hairless wonder did not want your sinus infection. :)

2. Maybe we need to invent human antibacterial that would clean the jerk out of people like those guys.

But what do I know...Love ya!

Charlotte said...

I absolutely loved The Glass Castle. I saw so much of myself in the mother, believe it or not.

Anyway, great post. Thanks for sharing.