This is happening right now and the lady sitting next to me is glaring daggers while making passive aggressive comment[s] under her breath
I have a 8 hour flight with a short connection. The 1st flight only served a small cracker pack and the 2nd will be the same.
During the connection, I only had barely enough time to run from one end of the airport to the other.
Once I got to my connecting gate, I found out I had enough time to order food but not eat it.
I checked with the gate agent to see if I can bring food onboard and she happily reassured me that I could. I went and got a burger, fries, and a drink.
When I was allowed to put the tray down, I did and started to eat. This is when the lady sitting next to me told me she doesn’t eat meat and the smell of my burger and fries are making her sick.
At 1st I ignored her and kept on eating but she complained louder.
I told her I bought the food after checking with the gate agent and I’m hungry so she’s out of luck.
She called the flight attendant and was told that I’m well within my rights to eat food that was bought at the airport.
I know I’m right when it comes to the airline rules but the food is pungent in an enclosed area and she’s still glaring at me so am I an AH?
I know, I know: vegetarians can be self-righteous and unbearably pushy about their preferences. But this is an important case for reflection. Was the aroma of that burger making the protesting woman sick – not just offended, envious, or wistful for better days? How could anyone know unless she started barfing in the aisle? Who is required to give way?
Coexistence questions are like that. In some cases, they involve life-threatening conditions, Consider allergies to peanuts, which are becoming more common. Even proximity to peanuts or peanut butter can touch off shock in the afflicted person. But the case above is a more severe test.
The airlines have already acted on the peanut allergy. I don’t expect them to institute vegetarian-only flights. Nor will I say that omnivores must give way before the preferences of vegetarians. What, then, is the proper resolution? Rearrange the seating assigned? Provide the “offended” party with a gas mask? Or just tell her to “suck it up?”
Let’s imagine that some airliner’s staff succeeds in defusing a situation like the one above. Let’s imagine further that no feathers are permanently ruffled by the incident or its resolution. There would still be a downside. News of the offended person’s protest would spread. The tactic would be used to disrupt other flights – in some cases purely for the pleasure some people take from disrupting others’ lives. Worse yet, if such incidents were to multiply, the FAA might get involved through its regulatory function.
Interpersonal clashes that expand to involve the uninvolved are like that. The fabricated externality is a source of bad feeling and bad consequences. Coexistence, even when it involves bearing something unpleasant for a time, is almost always preferable in the long run.
But some groups are absolutely unable to coexist. Some are absolutely unwilling to make the attempt. And some have agendas absolutely incompatible with amicable coexistence:
Our hyper-contentious era knows many such cases. Sometimes separation will work to eliminate the conflict. When the agenda of the activist group cannot be accommodated by such a measure, there’s a real problem. When the inner agenda of the group is to provoke an intervention by government, the difficulty is insurmountable. This is especially the case when “rights” are involved.
Note how frequently – close to inevitably – such groups couch their demands as “rights” that others must honor. This is why clarity of language matters so much to me. Unfortunately, those who find such clarity an impediment to their schemes are currently in the ascendant.
If there’s a stronger indicator that our nation is headed for Balkanization, I can’t think of it at the moment. Indeed, the process is already under way. Note the patterns of moment among the fifty states.
There isn’t much more to say about this. I’ve said what I think must be said. I’m not Solon of Athens. On reflection, I think I’m happy about that. If there were a Solon among us, the Establishment would have him assassinated.
George Alec Effinger, where are you when we need you?