I was on a plane back from Halifax the other night, and an event occurred which got me thinking about proper airplane etiquette.
I had been sitting there, quietly reading Wired, gently breathing in and out, and on one of my inhales I got the distinct sense that something wasn’t quite right. That sense rapidly developed to alarm as wave after noxious wave washed over me. I was gasping for breath, clawing at the windows, wondering what in the great green earth this person had consumed to produce such a horrid stench.
The stewardess was at this moment moving down the aisle with the drink cart, and the funny thing is, even though it wasn’t my doing, I was desperately hoping that the fumes would dissipate before she arrived. I did not want to be implicated as a culprit. Implied guilt overrides actual innocence.
I know I wasn’t the only one who sensed the miasma in the air. Nobody with anything approaching a sense of smell could have missed it. If there had been a bloodhound in the midst of that fog, I suspect they would have turned inside out and croaked on the spot. And yet nobody said a word, nobody even looked around, everyone just stayed studiously concentrated on whatever they were working on. I didn’t even pull my sweater up over my nose, though I so desperately wanted to, for fear of drawing attention to myself. Everyone would have assumed it was me, and the only person who would know otherwise would be the one who actually committed the heinous act.
So I got to wondering: is that the proper thing to do in such a situation? Just pretend nothing happened and ride it out? I guess at that point there’s not much that can be done to reverse it, but part of me wonders if maybe it was intentional, and there’s somebody out there flying the friendly skies and blasting really nasty gas and getting a great big chuckle out of it.
I’m too reserved to say anything in that kind of situation, though perhaps I should have. I’d bet that experience knocked a full 2 years off my life.
Image by hoyasmeg.