Latin Mediocre Again…

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Copa Airlines

A long time ago, so long we did not have blogs back then but used instead normal web pages in Geocities, my friend Matthew and I coined a term: Latin Mediocre. The term referred to the sad Latin philosophy of doing whatever had to be done with a 50% mentality and as little resources, quality and passion as possible. I wrote many articles on testimonies of Latin Mediocre with hopes that someone somewhere was reading and maybe thinking about ways to improve.

My last three flights (two to Caracas, Venezuela, and one interim to
Bogota, Colombia) sadly are proof that Latin Mediocre has become chronic, and that people strive their best during flights to bring out their worst behavior.

Now, I wish this would only be true for Latin people. But a new thesis come to mind, since in my last trip, a group of Asians clearly showed that lack of manners and education is now a global affair. I thought about expanding the Latin Mediocre thesis further, but decided that more proof needs to be forthcoming for globalization of stupidity.

Let me explain myself.

It all starts at the counter, a place where people ignore the IATA display where it politely reminds people that they should check their bags. It even has a metal frame where you can test in your carry-on fits inside or should be checked as luggage. Instead, people use their best faces to tell the nice lady in the counter that they have no baggage to check, despite the fact they are carrying two additional bags, heavy enough to cause a bad case of back pain and probably hurt a disc or two once in a while.

The case in point becomes more annoying when these same people try to board the plane. They are the same ones who can barely walk because of their heavy burden, who stop by your seat, decide unilaterally your small laptop case in the overhead bin simply does not belong there, and take it out to install their bags. Most of the time this involves pushing, shoving, cursing, and such, as the bag is just too big to fit inside.

The person in point will probably ignore the poor soul whose 3,000 dollar laptop is probably being crushed under the weight of the bags. The worst happens when flight attendants demand to know whose laptop bag is it, remove yours, and put the gentleman’s bag instead. This happened to me, and I had a tough time asking the attendant why was he accommodating my laptop over my seat, and helping someone who was supposed to check their bag in the first place. I travel often, sometimes three times a month, and these are trips to foreign countries, so my travel status usually affords me some voice. Yet nine out of ten I have to struggle with these happenings.

Another good sign of civilization loosing its grip is boarding time. As soon as the lady begins to talk over the microphone, people will form a line similar in despair to the hungry folks in
Africa making one to receive some corn or flour. Since most of them have tons of baggage with them, things can get ugly. Is the plane supposed to be boarded numerically? Forget about it. When 99% of the travelers rebel, it is impossible for the steward to put some order. Neither have politicians and sociologist in two hundred years…

Next is the traveler who has the need to push, spread their legs and elbows beyond their space, and act annoyingly. These tend to be older, broader, and particularly ugly men. If questioned, they tend to pretend they are asleep to avoid any signs of life.

Yet, the worst case is landing. People will do all kind of scary things in landings. People will get up, despite the fact the plane has touched downs only seconds ago. People will ignore the “fasten your seatbelt” sign. They will turn on their cell phones immediately, and get their gear as soon as possible. People will drop their heavy bags, whose weight attraction in normal gravity conditions can not be deterred by your normal traveler unless he or she happens to be the next weight lifting champion, on other people’s heads or bodies. They will do it while looking around annoyed, as if all the other persons should not be in the plane, or even exist. People will form lines ramming into one another in spite of the fact the door is not opened, and it will not open for the next fifteen minutes. People will keep standing in the small space between seats, crushing, pushing, acting as rudely and uneducated as possible. And all for the chance to get off the plane two minutes earlier than a normal soul who is sitting calmly waiting for their turn…

The behavior is uniform regardless of social extraction or class. It happens in coach and it happens in first class. Business class persons will cram their overhead bins with as many bags as possible. Coach and first class travelers will fight for a chance to be the first one in the door of the plane; even if that means standing idly in front of the flight attendance until the airport crew actually opens the door.

I had stopped flying for sometime, and had this naïve idea that one year was enough for some people to acquire some manners and make air travel a better experience. Sadly, thing are going in reverse, and manners are a forgotten thing of the past, replaced by all kinds of rude behavior and mediocre egoism to be the first one in and out of the plane, regardless of bruises, shoves, of despicable behavior.

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