Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pride and Prejudice

Whenever I have writer's block I find that for me the one sure fire remedy is to book a flight and board a plane.

Now, I've always thought of myself as one without prejudice.  "Me?  No, I'm not prejudiced."  Well, that notion is in itself ridiculous, we are all prejudice to varying degrees. We may not even be aware that we harbor these feelings until certain situations arise and we surprise ourselves by our thoughts and actions.

I have a few groups of people that I use harsh words for, such as "I hate it when…"  ~ these prejudices are not confined to race, religion, political party affiliation, sexual orientation or creed, but more often a behavior.  For example, the person who brings a carry-on bag into the cabin of the plane that is too large, the person who enters a theater or the movies once the lights have gone out, and the person who takes up two parking spaces in a crowded parking lot with his overly large SUV or fancy sports car.  These are just a few, but believe me, I have many more where these came from.

Well , I fell into one of those despicable "food" groups on Friday.  I was in Burbank, waiting to board my plane to Portland when the airline (steward, hostess, whatever you call them now) made an announcement about the lack of overhead space, full flight, blah blah blah.  It seems you hear this now on every flight. When is a flight less than full anymore?  Anyway, I didn't realize that the plane I was going to be flying on was a small commuter plane, some little ugly step-sister to the one I thought I would be taking.  When I walked out onto the tarmac, saw the pint sized plane and started climbing up the ramp to board, I stopped and asked the flight attendant if my bag would fit.  She looked down at my black Calvin Klein duffel and said, "Oh sure, as long as you can squish it a bit."  Well, she lied.

As I got to my seat and started to struggle with the carry on that was so not going to fit no matter how much squishing ensued,  I could feel the hateful stares from my already seated fellow passengers around me, and from all those steely eyes you would've thought I was clubbing a baby seal to death, right there in the aisle between 11B and 11C.  God it was awful.  Insult to injury, when the flight attendant came down to my row and offered to take my bag and have it "valeted" I was struggling to get it down and hand it to her when I hit my head on the overhead bin.  "Oh goodness, are you okay?"  Are you kidding me, I felt like I was on crack cocaine, fidgety, clumsy, like an overweight ballerina with holes in her pointe shoes whose pride had just taken a swan dive.  Horrific.  I handed her my bag and said, with the two rows in front of me completely turned around watching, "I'm one of those people I hate."  The sugary sweet attendant frowned, "Oh, hate is a strong word."  Oh brother.

My friend Virginia (has quit smoking) but before that happened, we had gone out to lunch and upon leaving the restaurant and heading to the car in the parking lot, she wanted to have a smoke.  "Where, here in the parking lot?" I nervously asked.  Yes, she couldn't wait till we got back to her house and back in the closet.  Oh well, we both leaned up against her car, kind of a 50's black leather jacket American Graffiti thing, attempting many times to light our Camel's with the strong breeze blowing.  Looking around, I felt as if we were tying off our arms, ready to inject heroin into our veins by the daggers being thrown at us from the eyes of the people passing by.  You could almost hear them yelling for their kids to get inside!  If there was a stake nearby I'm sure we would've been tied to it.

Yes, we may be combating and defeating some of our major prejudices, or at least we say we are, but most of us harbor many that are formed by what is socially acceptable and morally agreeable in accordance with our own beliefs and values.  I know that I need to be more tolerant, that we all need to practice a bit of forgiveness and that "throw the first stone" thing should be everyone's mantra.   Prejudice is Prejudice is Prejudice.  Our own personal melting pots apparently still have a lot of simmering and watchful stirring to do before they reach a nice smooth consistency.

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