Sunday, August 9, 2015

Passenger of the Day: A Good Little Boy Scout

A plane flies over Chicago

The plane started to bounce a bit in the middle of the sky. I looked out the window to see only a few scattered white clouds in the distance, then I returned to my reading. The purser passed by, heading back to first class. He stopped for a moment at my row, not to talk to me, but to the man seated in the aisle across from me.

“Excuse, me, sir,” he said to the man in a white shirt and gray hair, who looked a bit like Barney Frank, the Massachusetts congressman. He looked up at the purser over the rims of his black glasses, surprised someone was talking to him, “for safety, we need to have your arm rest down.” The purser gently pushed the arm rest back into position and continued on his way. The man looked over at me briefly, and then went back to his Sudoku puzzle. It was a completely forgettable experience.

After three minutes, my neighbor fidgeted, put down his puzzle and pen, looked around and then reached up to press the flight attendant call light. I wondered what he was up to. We were seated at the exit row, so we were closer to the front galley, and sure enough, the purser returned. He was short, stocky, had graying brown hair and smiled as he approached. He turned off the call light illuminated over the man's head, bent down and asked how he could assist.

The Barney Frank lookalike asked the flight attendant if he could see the manual where it states that his arm rest must be down. This is what he was fidgeting about? He wants to see the manual? I couldn't wait to see how the purser would handle this guy. I knew right then that I was seated across the aisle from my passenger of the day!

Narrow aisles
“I'm sorry, sir, but we're not allowed to share our manuals with passengers,” he told him. “But if it helps, they need to be down to keep passengers from falling out of their seats when the plane encounters turbulence, and I feel that right now the plane is at risk since it's been bumpy. It's also more difficult for passengers to move up and down the aisle if a bunch of arm rests are up, as it gives a few inches less clearance.”

Spot-on, Mr. Purser! I was afraid he might actually acquiesce and show this man the manual.

The man across the aisle returned, “Well, can I know the page number where it states this? I'm a good little boy scout and I like to follow rules, but I just want to see it for myself.”

A good little boyscout? Likes to follow rules? Really? A good little boyscout would have just said yes, sir, and that would have ended it right there.

The purser replied, “Well, you can write to Mother Airline. My name is Jeff, with two 'Fs' and you can mention that I'm the purser on this flight. They can discuss with you the various FAR's.”

I do the same thing; 'make sure you get my name right so they know I'm doing my job'.

The boy scout picked up his pen and wrote down Jeff's name and “FAR”, asking what that was (Federal Aviation Regulation). He then told Jeff that this was the first time he'd ever been told this and he always flies with the arm rest up. Jeff told him, “Well, I may be a bit more into safety than most. They are only supposed to be up for egress of passengers.”

“Egress?” Mr. Boy Scout asked.

“Yes, if a passenger is immobile, it's to assist in getting in and out of the aisle seat. That's why the button is hidden in the back of the arm rest instead of being in plain view.” Mr. Boy Scout then wrote down the word 'egress'.

If you could hear my eyes roll, he surely would have.

Jeff excused himself to return to the first class cabin and Mr. Boy Scout continued writing notes. In light of things going on in the news of late, why did I have a feeling I'd be reading about this? “Flight attendant calls man disabled and won't allow the use of the moveable arm rest, more at eleven.” But the thought circling my head was more about how he seemed to have a hard time being told what to do by the authority of the cabin. The purser is the lead flight attendant of the flight, after all, and every rule is there for a distinct reason. He's made a request for safety and Mr. Boy Scout had to grill him, even taking notes, when having that reason explained.

He returned to his Suduko puzzle for a moment, and then stood and wrestled around in the overhead bin. He pulled out a small camera, knelt down and took a few photos of the seat and the arm rest. I was simply amazed. One of the flight attendants from the back saw this and asked him what he was doing. “I just need a photo of my seat.”
Inside an A320

He was a nice man and had been making small talk with yet another flight attendant on board, sharing information about cologne, which I also thought very odd. Men don't normally ask other men who they don't know about their cologne and then offer a napkin with a sample sprayed on it, as Mr. Boy Scout did. Was he hitting on the male flight attendant?

Mr. Boy Scout never said another word to the purser, even when Jeff later came through the cabin to pick up trash. The man seemed cold to Jeff, but jovial to the rest of the crew. He obviously had a problem with authority and didn't like Jeff telling him what to do. Falling out of your seat is bad, and could hurt others, as well. But the skies can be full of selfish passengers who are only concerned for themselves and their own needs. I can only hope Mr. Boy Scout isn't as selfish as appearances can lead one to suspect, and I'm happy he kept the arm rest down for the rest of the flight.

No comments:

Post a Comment