Saturday, September 15, 2012

Stop the Presses: Barefooting Still Legal in America!

Even when I am wearing shoes, they emulate the barefooted experience I insist on.
For the millions of you who missed the riveting FaceBook post, a few hours ago I was publicly chastised by a JetBlue flight attendant. My crime? I attempted to get on the plane barefoot. She told me this wasn't appropriate. I asked her if there was a law against me getting on the plane without shoes. I also told her that my feet are extremely fucked up (they are) and that my plan was to put on compression socks as soon as I sat down (true story). I also told her that I have been flying for thirty years and have never had this request before, to which she, in classic pissing contest fashion, replied mockingly, "Well I've been flying for forty years!"

Meanwhile, the bitch behind me repeatedly informed me that I was blocking her way, which made me very edgy. On top of all this, I had just spent an hour watching the unattended luggage of a very suspicious-acting lunatic-- the same asshole who had cut me off in the security line, thus subjecting me to a very unwanted view of his hairy ass crack which, thanks to his height, was at face level for me-- debating whether or not to call security.

Those of you who have known me a long time (I'm talking to you Hank Stuever) might not believe it when I say that I no longer relish unbidden opportunities to compose my infamous I Hate You letters to incompetent airlines. Yes, yes, it used to be fun in a weird way to dash off a 7,000 word letter riddled with those classic angry gems often found in letters to the editor such as: I shudder to think... and Not since Nazi Germany have I had such bad in-flight service....  But I swear, something unthinkable and unexpected and surprisingly very welcome seems to have happened since I have really given into this Middle Age Thing. And that is, I have-- more often than not-- quit looking for a fight.

I now thoroughly enjoy the anonymity of being a mid-sized, gray-haired and thus pretty much invisible member of the population. The me that once sported a modified mohawk and spotted trouble at any turn? Well she has morphed into the me that likes to sit anonymously reading and people watching. If you need real proof, check it-- I no longer have bumper stickers on my car. I can hear the collective gasp of disbelief of the six of you, but I'm not kidding. No longer proclaiming my pro-dog anti-asshole Bush-despising stance publicly has provided me a stealthiness that allows me to mix with people of all stripes so I can eavesdrop and offer up a faux wan smile as I gather more (unnecessary) ammo for my ongoing mental essay: Holy Fuck There Are a Lot of Dumb Asses on The Planet, Aren't There?

Thus I was not as overjoyed when Bossy Sky Stewardess accosted me as I might have been in a past life. Because even before she was done with me I had, against my own will, begun composing a letter in my mind, one that would surely net me at least one free plane ticket. Having been groomed since birth to believe the entire world is out to get me specifically, I am quite good at evidence gathering toward this end. And so it began, my enraged inner-dialogue. I even, once seated (and yes, I defiantly marched to my seat barefooted), asked another flight attendant to provide for me company literature showing me that wearing shoes is either a law or at least a policy.

I lost steam pretty quickly though, and sort of just settled in and waited for my free snax, which I have to admit are pretty good on JetBlue. I tapped out a few notes on my iPhone to provide an outline for my planned missive of asshole tearing, but honestly I felt more pulled by the current VF's inside story on Scientology (specifically Tom Cruise) because, you know, I really need a 10,000 "investigative" article to convince me that Scientologists are nutjobs.

Whenever the mean bossy flight attendant came by to hand out drinks or collect trash, I froze her out, didn't make eye contact, and telepathed my irritation. To my surprise, my tactic worked, if by "worked" I mean "got her attention to the point she decided action was necessary." And so it came to pass that, after she was done with snack patrol, she came over, squatted right next to me, and wanted to communicate as if we were a couple desperately trying to save our marriage.

I will spare you the blow-by-blow dialogue, but let's just say that, wow, revisionist history can happen in the blink of an eye. She insisted that she hadn't told me I HAD to wear shoes, that she had only asked me if I had shoes within reach IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY. Then she went on to explain that, if something happened, like "in that movie..." (here she said the name of the movie about the pilot that landed the plane in the Hudson River maybe?) she wanted me to be able to have shoes to put on. Because, yeah, if I feel the plane start to plunge into, say, the Atlantic, the first thing I'm going to do is calmly put on foot gear, knowing this will likely save my life.

When it was my turn, I explained that actually, she had said repeatedly that she wanted me to have shoes for HEALTH reasons. My moment on the stairs-- you know when much later you think of what you should have said-- came to me as the plane was beginning its (planned) descent. I should've told her that wearing so much makeup is at least as bad for her health as my barefootedness is for mine, and also that her buying makeup is bad for my health because it comes from evil factories. Anyway, I didn't say that. I mostly just told her that a) I am a fifty year-old woman (I exaggerated for effect) who can make my own health decisions and b) I have fucked up feet (okay, even before I had fucked up feet I was a barefooter) and c) if it's not illegal, I'm going barefoot and d) if I was really worried about preserving my health I wouldn't get on an airplane to begin with since the stale air is full of germs (not to mention we could CRASH) and e) SHE TOUCHED ME AND I HATE IT WHEN STRANGERS TOUCH ME.

She recoiled a bit at this, and shook her head, trying to deny she touched me. But those of you who recall the incident with the OCD shirt-tag-tucker-inner at the coffeeshop might remember that one of MY big OCD things is DON'T FUCKING TOUCH ME. I told her she really did touch me, that she had encircled my wrist and spoken to me condescendingly. She begged to differ.

But wait, I said I'd spare a blow-by-blow. Thing is, even though I still wasn't pleased with the whole exchange, I gotta say that she did come over and talk to me. And she did listen. And her listening made me less pissed off. And then, in classic over-explain mode, I told her how right before she started in on me, I'd been monitoring the luggage-abandoning clown, and how when another passenger agreed with me that he was suspicious, we both went and reported him, and so yeah, my adrenaline was up even before her barefoot lecture and so that didn't help matters.

And so, while we didn't wind up joining the Mile High Club together, I will give her credit for chatting with me about it and, since I'm handing out credit, I'm giving me credit for not escalating it. Yay me.

Meanwhile, after all that, I went back to reading about why I should never, ever, ever date Tom Cruise, and was interrupted again, this time by the other flight attendant, the one I asked about policy. She had come back to confirm for me that it is, in fact, legal for me to be barefoot. And then she told me how she used to work for Jamaica Air and how there was this dude whose religion prohibited him from wearing shoes ever and so they just let him fly like that.

In conclusion, I would like to say that from now on, if someone stops me for getting on a plane barefoot, I'm claiming religious freedom and I am not, I repeat NOT putting on my shoes. If they can make me take them off at security, and if they can pat me down, and X-ray me with machines that show them what I had for lunch and the size of my nipples and my secret pants zippers then damn them, they can deal with my bare feet.

1 comment:

Holly Schroeder said...

I feel like she could have saved you both a lot of time and trouble if she would have just said, "Your bare feet kinda freak me out, it's not a rule, but could you put shoes on anyway?" At the very least, it would have been honest and you could have had a nice civil exchange about it. All the smoke and mirrors is just annoying. I personally would never go anywhere in public sans shoes (the security check sends me into an OCD germ meltdown where I spent the rest of my travel time wishing I'd packed a suitcase with nothing but Lysol), but hey, if you're okay with the potential foot cooties, viva la barefoot.