Monday, March 11, 2019


We are settling into our seats and buckling in when I hear that voice behind me. A woman and a man, first engaging in small talk, in the seats right behind mine.

"What are you going to Chicago for? Do you work there?"
"Yeah, I live in ........ but I grew up in ........." "D.C. Weather was good today..."

Then all of a sudden, I hear without wanting to, their voices aggressively drilling into my head:

"What a grumpy flight attendant!" she says.
"Hmm, yeah.." He agrees. "In Europe and other parts of the world, being a flight attendant is, like, a really big deal, but here anyone can become one I guess?" Sneering and laughter. I can almost see it, without seeing his face.
"Or maybe it's because it's United" she adds, "With the other airlines they train them really well, but with this one.." (As if talking about a dog, or a circus animal. I wince.)

The conversation trails off. I have a sour taste in my mouth. I wonder if it ever occurs to these people that the person who is serving them is a human being, might have emotions, might be having a bad day, might have had a death in the family for all I know...

I just cannot understand this mindset, this disgusting sense of entitlement, i.e. just because you have paid a few hundred bucks for a plane seat, you are owed a smile from the person who happens to be serving you. I want to turn around and ask them: "Don't you have bad days, ever? When you don't want to get out of bed? When you don't want to face people even, let alone serve them? Don't you ever feel miserable? How would you feel if I belittled your occupation? If I judged you based on a 15 seconds long interaction?"

But of course I don't turn around. I sit quietly in my seat and seethe. It is moments like this that sometimes pushes me into waves of pessimism about humans, and really damages my general love and trust in all humanity. I say to myself: "If I can teach my children to be nice and kind to the people who serve them, I will have parented well."

All of a sudden, the cabin lights go off, preparing for takeoff. I feel a dark panic take over me, as if all humanity is closing in on me. Complete darkness as we wait for the plane to accelerate, then take off.

But wait, no. It's not completely dark. Some people have turned on their reading lights overhead, and I see a few lights scattered around, and people with intent faces reading under them. I breathe a sigh of relief. As if their existence is something to hold on to in this artificially cold darkness. Their quiet focus reassuring, the rustle of the pages they turn like a lullaby.

I close my eyes, and think to myself:

As long as there are people reading in warm pools of light in this complete darkness of existence, we will be ok.

Esra Tasdelen, March 2019

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