Dear Metropolitan Diary

I've not yet read the Metropolitan Diary in today's Times, but I think I have a pretty good idea of what it might include:

  • story about an elderly woman on a bus with (choose at least one) a large bag of groceries, a small dog, or an inappropriately warm coat
  • story about elevator shenanigans in some co-op or other
  • story about how, despite everyone's expectations, a New Yorker did right by one of his brethren, thereby exploding the myth that all New Yorkers are self-involved and ungiving

(Mind, I fully acknowledge the fact that the San Francisco version of the Diary would include endless variations on Muni whinging, tales of dot-com failures, and tourists in shorts in the middle of July. I'm not dissing the Diary.)

It's this last part I thought of last night when the middle seat in the row in front of me was taken, at the next-to-last minute, by a young woman who came barrelling down the aisle with a large suitcase, glared at us as she said, 'Well, SOMEONE has taken my seat' (when, in fact, she was looking at the wrong row), and finally plopped herself down after handing the bag to a flight attendant and almost hissing, 'That had BETTER be gate-checked.' She then put her tray table down to finish the cup of ice cream she'd brought on board and, after she'd finished it, thrust it in the direction of the passing flight attendant and said, 'Will you take care of this?'

In a nutshell, she made me want to smack her. I don't often have that desire. And while this is surely completely unfair and stereotypical and what-have-you, she also seemed to me the perfect example of the sort of insensitive, self-involved, purely selfish New Yorker who gives the rest of the city and its populace a bad name. Alas, on the plane, unlike in the Diary, there was no sudden change of heart, no turn for the good. She started the flight as a bitch and ended it the same way.

And, sure, no doubt she's nothing like the corrupt, Tonga-swindling businessman, but there still seems to me no reason to be so unpleasant. What's the benefit? Who wins out in the end?

I didn't dare ask and risk actually having to speak to her. Instead, I just waited in the aisle while she bustled out and down the jetway and into the maze of SFO with her gate-checked luggage and her self-righteous air.

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