USE YOUR WORDS

If you run over someone’s foot with your stroller, please say you’re sorry

Obsession
Getting There
Obsession
Getting There

I was on a flight a few days ago and experienced something I can only title: “The Obnoxious Couple and the Magical Baby of Entitlement.”

I travel at least four flights a week for work—from home to a hub to a destination and then back each week. I have seen thousands if not tens of thousands of passengers. Prior to boarding one of my flights this week, I watched as a couple pushing an empty stroller rushed through the waiting area to the ticket counter. The woman had an infant of no more than a few months old strapped to her chest. In the process of reaching the counter, they actually ran over the foot of a fellow passenger with their stroller. They did not pause in their headlong dash to the counter to apologize or even offer a brief “sorry.”

Once at the counter the couple (very loudly—in what my wife and I refer to as an “outdoor voice”) declared: “We need to get on the plane first. We have a baby.” The gate attendant assured them that they would be able to board in the first part of the process. They harrumphed and moved to stand right in front of the jetbridge blocking any others (even the flight crew had to go around them). They were the first people on the plane.

As people were boarding, the couple sat in a window and an aisle seat. I was across the aisle from them in the other aisle seat, perfectly positioned to watch the theater that would continue to unfold throughout the flight. When the person who had reserved the aisle seat arrived, he was asked to find another seat because “We have a baby.” The flight attendant tried to explain what “infant in arms” meant, but to no effect. The phrase “But we have a baby!” was repeated no less than four times. Finally, he gave up and let them have the seat.

They continued to talk in their “outdoor voices,” filling the plane with a review of their recent stay and inane topics like why they really liked flip-flops and how the American political system could be overhauled (one of them had a British accent). When asked to reduce the volume of their discourse, they replied to the flight attendant, “It’s okay—we have a baby.” He shrugged his shoulders and left to distribute snacks and beverages.

When it came to their turn, they asked for extra pretzels. Reason: “We have a baby.” I am not quite sure how having a baby necessitates extra pretzels, especially when the baby is too small to eat solid food.

My fellow passengers and I were later treated to the view of a diaper change—the baby was a boy—and to a discussion on the color and smell of the poo in the diaper (which most of us could have commented on as well). When the people ahead of them started to have a conversation in a low voice about something (I was just across the aisle and I couldn’t hear) the couple was quick to shush them because the strange voice “might wake the baby.”

As we deplaned, the man stood up and demanded that the four rows ahead of them stay seated so they could deplane first “because they had a baby.”

Yet with all that went on, no one—including me—had the courage to denounce their impolite and inconsiderate behavior. We knew we would be lambasted for violating the sanctified premise that—just because you managed to reproduce—the resulting entity makes you far superior to those around you (even the ones who have likewise managed to reproduce but are not carrying the physical evidence of their success).

The Magical Baby of Entitlement meant they had a great flight at the expense of the other 146 passengers and that they never once doubted their “rights” to have anything and everything they desired. After all, they had a baby.

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