Beyond the Blue Curtain: The Mile-High Caste Club

In my absence from this blog, I was on vacation. During that time, I observed many strange and illogical human behaviors. These behaviors stick out because they are not the “norm”. Seeing a young woman walking through a Florida Amusement park wearing a long sleeved, long black dress, black heeled boots, gloves, black umbrella, and hat seems strange because society (and quite frankly logic) says it is. What, though, is more perplexing to me, are the behaviors that the general public willingly accepts and celebrates. This is most apparent in the one place where the caste system is alive and well in this country: Air travels.

What, truly, is the reasoning behind First Class? Basically one is rewarded for being stupid enough to pay even more than the ridiculous prices airlines charge for tickets. Yes, good for you. You have enough expendable income to sit in a bigger cushier seat, get on the plane before everyone else and enjoy an endless supply of cheap snacks you would never choose to eat in any other situation. As I stood in the very long line of riffraff too poor to enjoy the bacchian delights of the land beyond the curtain, I witnessed an attendant standing at the end of the “priority seating” line smiling, hands held in front of her doing nothing. The few fine folks who’s shoes I am not fit to shine had long since boarded and were snuggling into their extra-large seats, donning their tiny, scratchy red airline blankets, and ordering the first of many complimentary drinks. One of the poor shmucks like me waiting in the never ending queue of mediocrity, attempted to break free into the empty line and was promptly stopped by the attendant who’s job now was to ensure we all know our place and to illustrate to us what we could have if only we had spent the extra money: a chance to sit even longer on a pressurized tin can with wings…oh, if only. When it was finally my turn to be herded into the aforementioned tin can, I was held up on the threshold. What could be the hold-up I wondered? But then, I saw it. The stewardess was frantically pulling plastic wrap off of a pre-made salad and pouring a number of drinks for those royals in first class. When they were all satisfied and required no further services, I was allowed to board. They sat there tolerating my brief passage through their priority paradise, sipping the freshly made cocktails, wishing we would all just hurry up and get to our meager seats so the curtain could be drawn finally separating them from the peasants in economy seating.

As the curtain was drawn and the final square of Velcro attached to ensure none of us even consider trying to break through into a better life, I began to imagine the plane taking a nose dive shortly after take-off, relishing the 5-10 extra seconds of life I would have compared to my financial betters. Imagining them, as they realized the plane was going down, throwing what’s left of their vending machine salad onto the ground followed by that wool baby blanket and running madly for the curtain. The Velcro bulges but doesn’t give. Its job is after all to ensure class separation. They cry out, begging for our mercy but I can’t hear them, I am wearing the 2 dollar headphones I had to purchase and rationing my only bag of 1 dozen complimentary peanuts, all of which I manage to finish in my last 10 seconds of middle-class life. I smile at the image I’ve dreamed up as I allow myself to relax and enjoy MY complimentary copy of Sky Mall.