Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Just trying to be helpful...

Travel seems to bring the worst out in people. Part of it I blame on the airlines. And the government. In allowing so many mergers over the years you are getting more and more in to mini-monopolies. Sort of like cable companies, in theory there aren't monopolies because there are three or four carriers but in practice they cover certain sections of the country so there really are. Airlines aren't quite as bad as cable, yet, but it's getting close.

And because there is a lack of competition airlines have reduced basic services more and more. And offered fewer and fewer flights. So instead of a 3/4 of the way full plane with free checked baggage you have an over sold flight with $25- $30 for the first checked bag so no one checks bags. You get the announcement of "only one carry on in the overhead compartment, one under your seat" but no one pays attention to that and the attendants don't enforce it so it's just sardines and hustle trying to get in ahead of everyone else so you can get your bag a space as well as your butt.

And now because airlines have figured out that we are all on-board with the charging us huge amounts for no service they have started to sell us premiums. Want to have actual leg room? Comfort plus. Add that to your ticket. Want to board early? We have a fee for that as well. Want to eat, drink, sit in the exit row? Yup, we are going to need your credit card.

So by the time you are traveling you are tense. Too much money. Not enough space. Too many people crowding you. Doing the "my boarding group is going to be called next so let me crowd right here by you" push. By the way, I have a big butt and bony elbows, I will box you out if you try to bump me in line...

But then this trip I noticed something that I have been noticing more and more everywhere lately, but because of the extra travel stress feeling I was really aware of it.

People are just not as inclined to be helpful anymore.

We left Portland really early so grabbed breakfast in Salt Lake on our brief layover there. There was a sandwich shop near our gate so I popped over there to order us breakfast. Standing in line three people away from the register and down the counter another register opens up and the clerk calls for the next person in line. Now the guy at the front was looking at juice or something and didn't hear her. The person in front of me and behind him starts to get antsy. Making huffing noises and starting to do the shuffle like he's going to step around him and take the spot. So I reach around him and touch the guy on the arm and point to the open register. He smiles, apologizes, says thanks and heads over.  The guy in front of me says, "SOME people" which I think,  "yep." Because it would have taken him 2 seconds to do the same instead of getting all worked up about the guy not paying attention.

I place my order and while they are cooking breakfast head to the bathroom. They have the stupid bathroom design where there are 4 stalls then the sinks then another section of stalls. Ladies will understand this is a serious design flaw. Nobody is ever clear on if each area should have its own line or if one line should feed both places. It's dumb. Anyway we are doing to one line thing for both areas. When you see someone walk out of the far one you go to it. So finally my time comes I walk to the far section and see that there are three open doors. Three empty stalls. So I stepped back out and got the attention of the next two women in line. How long had those stalls been open and nobody said anything? We had all been waiting in line so every woman who went ahead of me in that area, at least 5, knew there were other open doors, but nobody could backtrack two seconds out of their day and say anything?

People get so focused on themselves, getting where they need to be, getting what they want, that they forget to look out for other people around them. And I get it, we all do it at times, but does it really take that much out of your day to hold the door for the woman trying to lug in a car seat? Or return the cart of the elderly gentleman with the cane at the grocery store? Have we really been listening to the "get yours and screw everyone else" mantra for so long that we are completely incapable of even seeing it anymore? That by constantly looking out for number one we have become less than?

Less than helpful. Less than kind. Less than compassionate. Just less than what we could be.

Just something to think about...

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