Tuesday, June 30, 2009

NOW BOARDING......Racism.

I was off on my first big business trip as I rounded the corner to my gate at the JFK airport, anxious to board and get on my way to Nashville. I was extremely jittery as there seemed to be an unusually large amount of people gathered around my gate. I found an open seat and plopped down, sipping my apple juice at 7am, as I was not a Starbucks grande latte kinda gal. Some time passed and my boarding time seemed to near. Frantic thoughts raced through my head. Am I at the right gate? I checked my ticket for the fifth time in ten minutes. Gate 25, and then in smaller print “subject to change”. Did I miss something?

I frenetically glanced around for some telltale sign that I was indeed waiting outside the correct gate, to Nashville. I only saw one cowboy hat which worried me. Come on, there have to be more Brad Paisley fans than this headed to Tennessee. It wasn’t enough confirmation for me without getting up to trek to the desk and ask the pleasant attendants. I scanned the room, someone give me a toothless grin! Nothing. But then I saw a purdy, young girl nails all done up, hair slightly bouffant in the back of her pony tail, and a sparkly little cardigan that would have made Dolly Parton proud. She must have deemed this outfit appropriate for her visit to the Big Apple. Next to her sat her goon of a husband in camo shorts, loafers and socks. There fingers dawned wedding rings. Married and younger than me, possibly related. I slumped back in my chair and relaxed, grabbing for a magazine, now that I was completely assured that I was indeed on the correct flight.

If this sounds as if I am casting stereotypes, well, I am. All grossly inspired by the scene that would unfold on the little plane in just a few minutes. Once boarded, all seemed in order, until an Indian family filed onto the plane. A teenage boy came first, then his younger sister and brother, followed by the mother and then the father. As the

Father passed heads turned, and hands shot up to cover mouths as if to vomit. The scent was something of exotic spices….and dirt, with a very sharp tang to linger on. An over dramatic woman who had flung a cloth over her nose and face, as if someone had just proclaimed the swine flu was airborne in the cabin, tried to squeeze into the empty seat next to me. She began to make loud, rude remarks expecting me to join in her comedy routine, all at the expense of this Indian family. “This is going to be one funky flight, and I ain’t havin it” she quipped as the four wanna be Nashville stars in front of me turned to join in. The stewardess had caught wind of this (no pun intended) and quickly went to shuffle the man and his family to the back of the plane. With a twisted face she walked the tiny aisle spritzing the air with sanitizing spray to the cheers of the mongaloids around me. “Thank you, thank you” Billie Rae squealed as if Jesus Christ had just come and offered him a place in heaven. A sprinkling of sanitizing chemicals gently settled on my skin. Oh good, I was trying to give my hair some extra sheen this morning but ran out of time to condition.

After marinating an extra half hour in the supposed stench and sanitizer, another attendant came on the plane to escort the family off. Mind you, we should have already landed in Nashville by now, and the smell could not have been worse than the woman’s (who sat next to me) half eaten bag of Wendy’s, or the woman in 7B, who had doused herself in some cheap Wal-Mart version of Chanel #5, or how about the baby that clearly just crapped his pants. Are you going to throw these people off as well? I might mention, that the woman who originally complained was now fast asleep, wrapped in a sweet, little blue airline blanket cocoon.

Now that this ridiculous ordeal had ended I was a mix of irate and sad, my eyes averting to my ipod playlist, when suddenly the door reopened. Was it the man coming back, fist in the air to give some speech on degradation, and how he was embarrassed in front of his family and children, how could we be so racist? I slumped down in my seat thinking, don’t associate me with these people, please don’t. What could his children think of all this? Imagine the perspective they have on people in the world now? Sir I will go with you and together we will fight these airline racists I thought, as I slathered on watermelon lip-gloss in hopes of smelling nothing but my own upper lip. No need though, nothing could quite cover the stench of the bacon cheeseburger that filled my nostrils, and besides it wasn’t Muhammad Stinky anyway but 2 new passengers chosen to share our flight, white ones too!! I could feel the air of approval the passengers around me must of felt as they saw the fair skin turn the corner. A big white man and his hillbilly tween daughter came a meanderin in carrying a box. Of lobster. Shouldn’t those be kept refrigerated?