Plane spo­ken

If you see some­thing, say some­thing

GA Voice - - Columnists -

I’m on a Delta flight from New York to At­lanta, await­ing take­off. I have the aisle seat. In the mid­dle, a baby-faced guy who I’m pretty sure is a Mor­mon, or at least he dresses like one.

At the win­dow, a fifty­ish busi­ness­man type, bran­dish­ing a copy of an Ann Coul­ter book called “Mugged.” Ugh. I just can­not stand Ann Coul­ter. That woman is not a con­ser­va­tive, she’s a provo­ca­teur. Ann Coul­ter is like one of those per­for­mance artists who work with body flu­ids — there’s no mean­ing be­hind the ac­tion, they just want ev­ery­one to no­tice their poop on a wall.

So al­ready, I’m not a fan of Win­dow Seat, as I watch him tap­ping out very im­por­tant texts on his Black­berry.

The flight at­ten­dant an­nounces it’s time to dis­con­tinue the use of all por­ta­ble elec­tronic de­vices. Win­dow Seat ig­nores this, con­tin­u­ing with his ur­gent com­mu­niques. I do my best to ig­nore it, in part be­cause it’s not af­fect­ing me per­son­ally, but mostly be­cause I want him to be shamed by the flight at­ten­dant.

The plane taxis down the run­way, and comes to a stop in prepa­ra­tion for take­off. A flight at­ten­dant makes her way down the aisle, and Win­dow Seat stashes his Black­berry be­tween his polyester-en­cased thighs.

As soon as she passes, he’s got the damn thing out again. The pas­sen­gers across the aisle no­tice this as well. There are now five peo­ple ac­tively watch­ing him con­tinue tex­ting, root­ing for him to get caught. I can’t take it any­more.

“Hey, pal, I think she said it’s time to turn those off.”

No­tice how I said “I think,” ac­knowl­edg­ing the pos­si­bil­ity that any one of us could some­how miss the in­struc­tion to dis­con­tinue the use of all por­ta­ble elec­tronic de­vices un­til we have reached our cruis­ing al­ti­tude, even though this is com­mon knowl­edge to any­one with a brain stem.

Win­dow Seat stares at me like I’ve got a bird on my head. I give The Mor­mon raised eye­brows and a lit­tle shrug, the uni­ver­sal sig­nal for, “Well, I tried.”

An­other flight at­ten­dant passes by, and Win- dow Seat once again stashes the phone in his crotch. This is be­yond the pale. There are rules. I have ab­so­lutely no idea whether my iPad could ac­tu­ally in­ter­fere with Delta’s nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem, but I op­er­ate un­der the be­lief that this is not my call to make.

The Mor­mon de­cides to get in­volved. He gen­tly sug­gests that Win­dow Seat shut off the Black­berry. Win­dow Seat nar­rows his eyes in de­fi­ance.

“Why don’t you mind your own busi­ness, fag­got?”

Oh, hell no. First of all, call­ing this nice clean­cut young man a fag­got when there’s a gi­ant man with a red pom­padour on the aisle hold­ing a copy of a Mont­gomery Clift bi­og­ra­phy speaks to Win­dow Seat’s in­abil­ity to read his sur­round­ings. Se­condly, I still haven’t for­given him for the Ann Coul­ter book.

So I sit for a moment, plot­ting. Then I whip out my iPad and press play on a par­tic­u­larly thrilling moment in “The Bourne Legacy.” No head­phones, full vol­ume. I’m shar­ing the movie for all around me to en­joy. A flight at­ten­dant is on me in two sec­onds.

“Sir! I need you to turn that off RIGHT NOW,” she says.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I say. “I thought this row had dif­fer­ent rules. Be­cause that guy’s tex­ting.”

She smirks at me as I calmly put my iPad away, then turns her at­ten­tion to Win­dow Seat.

“No. Ev­ery­one has to shut off all de­vices. Right now. Sir, I need to see you turn off your phone.”

Win­dow Seat pro­duces the Black­berry from his lap and pow­ers it off. The flight at­ten­dant gives my shoul­der a light squeeze as she walks away. A few mo­ments later, I hear laugh­ter erupt from the ser­vice area in the back of the plane.

Win­dow Seat, mean­while, gives me the stink eye for the next two hours. Not that I really no­tice. I’m en­grossed in the movie I’m watch­ing on my ap­proved elec­tronic de­vice, as soon as I’m given per­mis­sion to use it, and en­joy­ing the ex­tra cook­ies I got at snack time. Be­cause The Mor­mon gave me his.

To­pher Payne is an At­lanta-based play­wright, and the au­thor of the book “Nec­es­sary Lux­u­ries: Notes on a Semi-Fab­u­lous Life.” Find out more at to­pher­payne.com

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