I flew out first thing Tuesday morning. By first thing I mean before noon. Normally I like to fly international airlines but that wasn’t an option due to pricing. I ended up flying American Airlines. A four hour flight from here to Chicago and then a 7 hour flight from Chicago to Dublin.
My flight from LAX to Chicago was probably the worst flight I’ve ever been on. I wasn’t allowed to pick a seat online when I made the reservations so I wasn’t expecting much. Unfortunately, I got even less. When I checked in 2 hours before my flight I wasn’t permitted an aisle seat. I had to take a middle seat which I hate.
I ended up being situated between some old guy and his son who I would later realize was the anti-Christ. The old man wasn’t really that big of an issue. The son was the complete asshole. First off, why don’t you get seated next to your travel companion? Why subject some innocent third-party to you family squabbles?
The anti-Christ didn’t see it that way and he took the aisle seat and his father took the window. The two of them decided that it would be good form to pass things like used napkins and Kleenex between the two of them 2 inches from my face.
Of course dad was hard of hearing so sonny-boy shouted everything into my ear for 4+ hours. “Dad, dad, would you like a sandwich?”
Again, not a major problem but sonny-boy decides he needs to stretch out. I’m a big guy so when I fly I try to scrunch myself into as little an area as possible so as not to inconvenience others. Not sonny-boy though. He immediately takes over the armrest and even gives me a couple of double jabs with the elbow as he makes it known he’s not relinquishing any of his territory. At one point, while he was eating and had raised his arm to stuff some food in his pie hole, I intentionally took back part of the armrest and when he went to rest his arm back, he found that I had reclaimed what was rightfully mine. He gave my elbow a slight push and when I didn’t back down he gave it a full blown shove knocking my arm completely off the armrest. Not a “sorry” or “oh, excuse me” to even feign it being a mistake.
I’m not even talking about armrest territory here. This jackass is elbowing me in the ribs. He’s over his side, over my side and now jabbing me in the ribs with his freakin’ elbow. At this point I’m looking around for cameras because I figure I’ve got to be on some television show. There’s no way this guy is elbowing me in the ribs without the slightest acknowledgement.
So, here I am getting elbowed in the ribs and having dad and son using my ears like walkie-talkies. You know there’s no way I’m getting a lick of sleep.
Oh, and to my surprise, American Airlines is now one step below most third-world countries in terms of service. No meal. Well, they would sell you some crackers and cheese for $4 but no complementary meal on a 4 hour flight. Not even some damn almonds. And no damn movie. No form of entertainment. And one would think that you might have a little eye candy to distract you but not on this flight. The combined ages of the three stewardesses was about 170.
The flight from Chicago to Dublin was a lot less eventful (and stressful) and I landed in Ireland around 10am.
A quick ride from the airport put me at the Jury’s Ballsbridge before noon. I went to my room and took a bit of a nap after checking emails and such.
I head down to the hotel pub around 8pm and soon strike up a conversation with a Brit and another guy from Philly. The Brit points out that there are only about 10 people in the entire pub but there are six bartenders. We inquire about this with one of the bartenders and he tells us a concert is going on next door and they expect it to get busy when the show lets out.
Sure enough, when the show lets out the pub is packed solid. Quite interestingly, the act performing next door was some sort of boy-band so the place was crawling with 20-something year old women. Perhaps this was karma’s way of saying sorry for the bad flight over.
One girl ponies up to the bar and orders some drinks. She strikes up a conversation with Philly and I and as soon as she pegs us for Americans she pops off some insult about America. Now, I’ve lived in Europe before and I’m more than accustomed to this type of bullshit. As soon as you say America some self-absorbed idiot is going to tell you everything that’s wrong with the country. She was our self-absorbed idiot.
I’m not a big fan of apologists. I hate people who jump right in and start agreeing when some Euro-snob begins trashing their country. I’m not especially jingoistic but I think it shows an incredible level of inner weakness to let someone talk trash about your homeland. Mostly because those doing the trash talking normally have no clue what they’re talking about. They know the US via television and movies and yet they are going to impart their special wisdom about your country without having even been there. They ridicule the fact that most Americans can’t find Bulgaria on a map but can’t find North Dakota on a map themselves.
For anyone who disagrees with me on this, think about it this way; if someone came up to you and said they were from Mexico, how appropriate would it be for you to go off on a rant about how lazy and ignorant Mexicans are? Not very. Just because you’re from the US, shouldn’t make it any less offensive. I’m not saying that you have to start chanting USA! USA! or anything but you should at least recognize it for what it is. It’s an insult. If you agree with them, in an attempt to be oh-so continental, then they have no respect for you. If you object to what they’re saying then they pull out a laundry list of ways they’re superior to you which has been drilled into their heads since youth. The only option you really have is to not play into their pre-scripted drama. Change it up on them.
Normally, I just toy with the typical Euro-snob. I look for ways to push buttons. I want to get under their skin and make it painful for them to continue this line of discussion. So for instance, the Euro-snob in question had mentioned that she was going to do an internship at the UN in NY. Here I might start asking questions like “So, will you be helping them cover up the oil for food scandal or will you be working in the department that ignores Darfur?” Normally, I try to come up with something slightly more nuanced but you get the picture.
But before I could start in on her, Philly jumped in with a different tactic which I have become a huge fan of since seeing it employed. Somehow something was said about Philly’s son being in the Marines. Euro-snob says “Oh, so you’re proud that your son kills people?” Philly doesn’t flinch. He pulls out his wallet and shows her a picture of his son in full dress uniform and says, “Come on. Do you think a kid this cute wants to go around killing people?” Euro-snob is taken aback. Not only did Philly not react how she wanted him to but she starts staring at the photo and says “Oh, he is cute. And he looks so young.”
As the conversation continued, Philly really started getting in her head. Though she was from Iceland her English was quite good though littered with expletives. Philly stops her mid-sentence and says, “I really wish you wouldn’t talk like that. That type of language is not only disrespectful of me but it tells me you don’t think very highly of yourself either.” She responds “You mean â€˜Fuck’? Why can’t I say that? Don’t all you Americans say â€˜Fuck’?” Philly says “No, not all Americans. I’m Catholic and I was raised that we didn’t use that kind of language. Especially as liberally as you do. I think people who use words like that are being disrespectful of themselves. You’re an educated and beautiful young girl. Are you telling me you can’t find better words to express what you think? Are you so insecure with your ideas that you have to use shock words rather than intelligence to get your points across?”
Euro-snob takes the upper-cut and she starts flailing wildly to change the conversation. She starts with the standard “You believe in the death penalty but are against abortion” sort of stuff but Philly isn’t having any of it and keeps on hitting her with the self-confidence punches.
One of the bartenders we had met before the crowd showed up was this young, good looking kid who was studying to be a barrister (that’s lawyer in Americanese). Philly calls him over and says “See, here’s a nice young man. He’s studying to be a barrister. He’s probably going to be very successful in life.” He turns to the bartender and says “Now, what do you think of young ladies who go around using words like â€˜Fuck’ all the time.” The bartender says “Well, I can’t say I like it.” Philly smells the blood and keeps attacking.
Before long Euro-snob admits that she’s very insecure and that the internship at the UN was a last choice opportunity for her. The internship is unpaid and she’s going to be living in a rat hole in NY because she can’t afford a nice place. She says she had been turned down for several other attractive internships and she was really feeling bad about herself at the moment. A few minutes later she’s openly sobbing in the bar and her girlfriends come over to find out what’s going on.
Of course, I do the only respectable thing possible and begin hitting on her girlfriends.
USA! USA! USA!