We used to often hear baby boomers referred to as “the me generation.” I have begun to wonder – have so many of us boomers, now in our 50’s, 60’s or so, passed this title down (or perhaps I should say forwarded it) to our children, and they to theirs? The “It’s all about me” attitude seems to be everywhere these days.
Just today I was reading an article about fights breaking out on airliners, most often over the few inches of space between seat rows, particularly when a person in one row (we’ll call this Person #1), in an attempt to gain a miniscule amount of comfort, reclines his or her seat. The person behind Person #1 (Person #2) then begins to loudly complain to Person #1 that he/she is impinging on his or her personal space.
One woman started a fight when the guy in front of her reclined, bumping her on the head while she slept with her head on the tray table. Often, apparently, neither person is willing to give a little, nor to be calmed by a flight attendant’s efforts at mediation.
Some of the resulting battles become so serious as to force rerouting of the flight to the nearest large-enough airport to land, at considerable cost to the airline, long enough to unload one or both warring passengers. “ME and my comfort!” “No, ME and my comfort!” It seems no one matters but the proverbial ME!
This suddenly dredged up a thought from my declining stash of memories – a story of my own about an airport, a very selfish man, and ME. Having just returned to Tucson from San Diego, my friend Norma and I hurried over to the baggage carrousel, along with everyone else from our Southwest Airlines flight.
I was using my spiffy new Razzleberry electric wheelchair, the one thing that added a small bit of fun to debilitating flares of fibromyalgia. Norma was on her own two feet. The carrousel began to rumble. The passengers pricked up their ears like a pack of hounds, though we all knew there would be quite a lot more rumbling before the first bag would arrive and go round and round before the next bag would appear.
Norma sighed and nudged her way forward a bit closer to me. And on the other side of me was a man of about my own age who did not appear to be in any bigger hurry than anyone else in the crush. Then, added to the rumble of the carrousel was a bumping sound from the conveyor mechanism and out spewed bag after bag of luggage.
The people leaned forward with anticipation, each certain that their bag would be among the first. The man beside me was one of those lucky few. He spotted his over-sized, hard-sided valise, leaped ahead, grabbed it up and widely swung it off of the noisily rotating pile, directly into my knee. “YOW!” I screamed in pain, and, ” HEY!!” as he turned, trying to leave, but still regaining his balance. “I didn’t hit you,” said this fool, even before having been accused.
I looked to the folks standing closest, whose attention had shifted to this interesting “incident.” “You saw it, right, and you?” I asked. Not a word from any of them as their attention urgently shifted back to locating their golf clubs and the bag they had tied a red ribbon on to make it easier to find among, um, all the other red-ribboned bags. And I was certain I heard a murmur of, “me, me, me, me, me.”
“Well, I saw it,” yelled Norma. “I’ll find a security guard!!” It was at this point I realized that the man was getting away, quickly loping, already a good distance down the concourse. “I’m going after him,” I yelled, not willing, of course, to just let it be. It was about me.
Though new to joy-stick type controls and, for that matter, to wheelchairs in general, I never-the-less threw the lever hard forward and took off at such a speed my chair and I nearly toppled over backward, front wheels off the ground.
It was difficult to ignore the many walkers gawking at the woman with her hair on end, flying down the concourse in a bright Razzleberry wheelchair, faster than any wheelchair should be able to go. But I was going to get that guy. I guess his loping away must have triggered the hunter in me or something.
Ah! There he was in line for a rental car. I slowed down (so as not to draw his attention), and pulled into an alcove where I could see if he left the car rental area. I used my cell to call Norma to let her know that I had found him. She was by my side in less than a minute with a female security guard, who had already called the Tucson police. She had also called the car rental folks with orders to hold his car until police arrived.
We watched while our guy got more and more angry about the hold-up of his car. There were a lot of “…but I, I, I’s” and “ME, ME’s,” until the police got there. After being held and questioned for about twenty minutes, the guy seemed to have calmed waaay down.
An officer approached to let me know the man was quite anxious to apologize to me rather than spend some time in jail and take the chance that I would sue him for medical bills.
When given the option of pressing charges or accepting a personal apology, I decided that we had all suffered enough and had only one request. I asked the officer to tell him that I didn’t want his apology. And Norma and I headed home.