The man's naked foot rubbed against my leg. The frost came early this year and spread an icy blanket across my spine. What the hell is wrong with people today that they can't uphold some etiquette for the short span of time they are subjected to public transportation?
I saw an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry David finds his plane seat to be next to a man wearing shorts. Larry, being the confrontational person he is, reprimands his elbow-knocking neighbor for being so inconsiderate to wear shorts on a plane. I think this is an overreaction to the circumstance. Granted, the artifact of clothing was short enough to be called briefs and with the lack of elasticity around the thighs, there is a risk of junk spillage. But a situation like this really depends on the individual wearing the shorts. Do you think Larry would mind if the individual sitting next to him was a slender 25-year-old vixen with velvet-soft thighs? Of course not. But it made for a great uncomfortably humorous scene that the show is known for.
In all my travels, there is a growing lack of respect for human subjection. Surprisingly, the majority of these occurrences happen on one of the most expensive forms of travel; the aeroplane. And it seems that out of the entire class system, individuals in Business class are the worse. No more than 60 years ago, it was common courtesy for a man to wear a suit and tie for most occasions. Even a ball game would draw the poorest individual to the game wearing his Sunday best and a fedora. Today, you're lucky enough if some of these Neanderthals have enough body paint to cover their birthday suit.
Why do people feel it's okay to get undressed on plane? I don't care how much a ticket costs; you are still on public transportation. You don't see people removing their shoes and socks while traveling on the great steel Greyhound bus. Yet when traveling the mile high expressway, you're in danger of a flight neighbor stripping naked short of removing his capris and wife-beater. There are a few points of etiquette that if every individual could uphold, it would make traveling a little more bearable for the rest.
The first of these is REFRAIN FROM WEARING PAJAMAS. This rule should apply anytime/anywhere you are out of the house or in the presence of anyone other than family members. Whether you are on a plane, going for brunch or having guests over to watch a movie, put some freakin' cloths on! This also applies to sweats, workout cloths and swimwear. These items were made for athletic activities and despite what you think, plopping into a jet seat is NOT exercise. Just because your stretchy pants have a word printed across the ass doesn't make it appropriate designer clothing to get on a plane.
The second rule is KEEP YOUR SHOES AND SOCKS ON. Seriously, you're not at home and no one on the plane wants to smell or look at your feet. It's true, the plane gets cleaned between flights, but no little old Brazilian woman comes in and scrubs everything with disinfectant. I cringe when thinking of the possible organisms that are left behind from feet sweat wiped across the back of seats, against the footrest and across the floor carpet.
The third rule is WASH YOUR HANDS AFTER USING THE BATHROOM. Due to energy and water conservative attempts, the mechanics in the bathroom of a plane are more complicated than other bathrooms. The water faucet releases short bursts of water for each time you press the spring-loaded handle. I know this is a bit of a pain having to press this handle over and over just to get your hands properly cleaned. But this is no excuse for avoiding the process all together. I don't have the ability to monitor everybody’s bathroom hygienic, but it's safe to say that there is a large majority that are transferring germs with their fecal fingers on the door, door handle and back to their seat. This makes it really difficult for me to exit the restroom without touching anything.
The fourth rule is BE HYGIENICALLY CONSCIOUS AT YOUR SEAT. This is a simple rule and means be considerate of the individual sitting next to you. Don't pick your nose, remove scabs, scratch your dandruff, chew your nails, file your nails, pick at hangnails, suck on blisters, lick your palms, finger your bellybutton or massage your naked feet (which shouldn't be naked in the first place). Refrain from attending to these callings until you get home or at least take care of it in the restroom. But you should also not attend to your hygiene in public. Do not apply deodorant, clean your ears, brush your teeth or shave in your seat. That's what they make bathrooms for.
The fifth rule is DO NOT GET WASTED ON THE PLANE OR BOARD A PLANE WASTED. For alcohol drinkers out there, I know it is fun to get drunk. But leave this activity to areas equipped to handle drunks. As funny as you think you are when you're pile-drived, no one except your drunken friends think you are anything but loud and annoying. At least in bars, people can move away from you or leave the establishment. But on a plane we are stuck with you...for hours. On a plane 99% of the passengers are not in the same headspace as you. You are loud and obnoxious; you stink to high-heaven and consistently knock over drinks or into people. If you reach a state of intoxication that you vomit, you will most likely initiate a barf brigade. Then as you pass out for the remaining hours of the flight, you've left all the other passengers to endure the stench of your ass-rank insides.
If we can all follow these rules, it would make a long flight easier to endure for everyone. After all, the plane is just another form of public transportation like a bus, train or boat. No matter where you are seated or how long the flight is, it is not your personal living space. Show your neighbor a little respect.
Copyright 2009 Gris Grimly