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A Tweet by Tweet Account of Madness and Pathos in the Air
August 21, 2012 2:54 PM   Subscribe

How To Deal With An “Unruly Passenger” On A Cross Country Flight An independent film producer on a flight from New York to L.A. shares his conversation with a man who was so unstable that the plane had to land early in Denver.
posted by Huplescat (155 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite

 
Two points:

1) "I write that I used to be william morris agent and I've dealt with difficult people before and really this guy wasn't that difficult" is brilliant but almost too good to be true.

2) True or not, I really wish we had a fucking national mental health care policy in this country besides "lock up and/or throw away anyone crazy who can't manage to get the necessary care they need on their own."
posted by scody at 3:06 PM on August 21, 2012 [33 favorites]


I didn't expect that to be so heartbreaking.
posted by treepour at 3:06 PM on August 21, 2012 [37 favorites]


Holy shit.
posted by lobbyist at 3:06 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I want to write this all down before I forget it even though its 3.45am. I just got home.

Some one please tell me -- WTF did he write all of this down 'after the fact' and use multiple Twitter posts to do so?
posted by ericb at 3:07 PM on August 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


I write that I used to be william morris agent and I've dealt with difficult people before and really this guy wasn't that difficult

FTW
posted by chavenet at 3:10 PM on August 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Limey's got balls.
posted by goethean at 3:10 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


NYC represent.

His film Margin Call is pretty good.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:13 PM on August 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


scody; isn't the national health care policy now exactly the opposite of that? That no one can be kept locked up without their own consent?
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 3:15 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


ericb: Why are you asking us? His Twitter account is right there.
posted by ODiV at 3:15 PM on August 21, 2012


Latest tweet: the kid got charged for interfering with a flight crew which is federal and carries a max of 20. I feel compelled to go and speak 4 him

I cannot fucking believe that he might get jail time.
posted by lobbyist at 3:15 PM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


"That no one can be kept locked up without their own consent?"

Yes, but I think the point is that people are charged with crimes and incarcerated when, in fact, the crimes are a result of their mental illness.
posted by docgonzo at 3:18 PM on August 21, 2012 [11 favorites]


Wow, that brought back some bad memories. I was on an overnight flight from Seattle to JFK in 2009. Sat down next to a dude who was at least 6'3, 220 (I'm 5'9, 180). He's in the aisle, i'm in the middle. I don't sleep on flights, so I'm just trying to read my book. He keeps asking me if I want to drink with him, I decline. Calls me a pussy for not doing so. While he's ordering shot after shot from the stewardess, he shows me his cache of Wild Turkey bottles and unknown pills in his bag. I try to ignore him. At some point after taking a drink he violently punches the seat in front of him, waking up a really small lady who clearly was frightened. He gets up to take a piss, I ask the stewardess not to serve him any more. He comes back to the seat, starts calling me a coward and other such names. Drinks some more of his shot bottles while he continues to verbally harass me.

When someone gets up in my face, I tend to shut down and ignore them. Now he gets up to use the bathroom again. I page the stewardess, take the remaining alcohol from his carry on and ask her to confiscate them. When he comes back, he correctly figures out that I got his booze taken away and then proceeds to ask me if I am a 'tough guy'. I don't reply, but then he says "Well, let's see just how tough you are." So he then proceeds to put me in a headlock. Not very tight because he's fucked up, but he's still large enough that I can't escape. So I'm in a headlock, jamming the call button over and over. Everyone else on the plane is asleep. Finally the stewardess comes, he lets me go and they switch me with another airline employee who was dead-heading to JFK. I felt awful for her but I guess he left her alone. We landed at JFK and I pretty much just stared at him in the baggage terminal while he refused to look at me. Craziest flight I've ever been on.
posted by wikipedia brown boy detective at 3:19 PM on August 21, 2012 [25 favorites]


ericb: Why are you asking us? His Twitter account is right there.

My point is why use Twitter and not write an account and post it somewhere -- like a blog, etc. Breaking it up in small 'word bites' seems odd to me.
posted by ericb at 3:20 PM on August 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


That no one can be kept locked up without their own consent?

In mental hospitals, sure. In the nation's jails and prisons? Not so much.
posted by scody at 3:20 PM on August 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


related, sort of...
posted by bashos_frog at 3:20 PM on August 21, 2012


I, for one, am not prepared to diagnose the guy based on some tweets. I think it is fair to have a trial and make a determination after careful consideration of the facts and hopefully testimony by qualified medical professionals.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:21 PM on August 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Clonazapam (Klonopin) is hardly limited to use for "bipolar anxiety.". I respectfully dispute this guy's armchair -- er, airplane seat -- diagnosis. It's an anxiolytic, but it is used to treat anxiety across many primary diagnoses. It is also frequently prescribed for simple fear of flying.

Still, fuck.
posted by spitbull at 3:21 PM on August 21, 2012 [22 favorites]


Some one please tell me -- WTF did he write all of this down 'after the fact' and use multiple Twitter posts to do so?

It seems like you ask just to rail on why Twitter sucks or something. Why not just go ahead and do that, get it out of your system
posted by deo rei at 3:22 PM on August 21, 2012 [10 favorites]


"Latest tweet: the kid got charged for interfering with a flight crew which is federal and carries a max of 20."

They just had to divert a plane from Calgary to Edmonton for similar reasons; but hey, not just the down and out are crazy, this guy was kicked out of first class.

"Justin Neil Frank, 35, of Calgary, has been charged with three offences under the Criminal Code, including sexual assault, mischief to property and causing a disturbance by “fighting and being drunk,” court records show.

He also faces two charges under the Canadian Aviation Act: consuming liquor not served to him and failing to comply with crew member instructions. If convicted, those offences carry a fine of up to $100,000, five years in jail, or both." source
posted by Stagger Lee at 3:23 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, he seems to be confusing/conflating Klonopin with stuff like Haldol and Thorazine, or something. Either way, this situation is fucked up in so many ways.
posted by elizardbits at 3:23 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm a little confused as to people's reaction...

You're on a plane, someone's acting really weird, being aggressive, swearing, being violent, sexually assaulting random women, and the plane should not land and the person should not be punished?

I also don't understand the jump from "this guy is going through some bad stuff" to "our country's wars did it to him." To some extent that's probably true, but it's pretty clear Marco has been through quite a bit besides the US military...
posted by papayaninja at 3:23 PM on August 21, 2012 [27 favorites]


I, for one, am not prepared to diagnose the guy based on some tweets.

I thought you were one of us, man!
posted by mazola at 3:24 PM on August 21, 2012 [15 favorites]


I cannot fucking believe that he might get jail time.

Really? He sounds like kind of a dick, stealing the narrator's seat with a "fuck you", hitting him in the torso and leg, groping a woman, generally being a total cock in a way that demonstrates disregard for everyone around him in a way that makes the other passengers feel unsafe. I certainly get that there are reasons for him being a dick, and I certainly don't think it's dickish enough to merit 20 years in jail, but it's not like he's quietly minding his own business here.
posted by Greg Nog at 3:26 PM on August 21, 2012 [35 favorites]


I read this and all I could think of is Karl Marlantes' What It Is Like to Go to War. He has a lot to say about the ways we don't give the people coming home enough support including given them enough time to decompress in an age where you can be taking fire one day and walking into a Wal*Mart in suburban Columbus, Georgia the next.
posted by ob1quixote at 3:28 PM on August 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


You can be disgusted about the pervasive lack of available resources for the mentally ill - veterans in particular - in the USA while still wanting an uncontrollable violent groper to be subject to the same laws as everyone else.
posted by elizardbits at 3:29 PM on August 21, 2012 [64 favorites]


I used to have a roomate who snorted Clonazepam all the time, I could always tell because he moved and talked at like 1/4 speed. I could always tell when he took a xanax, he would pound red-bull after. He called it a "social speedball". So people do use this stuff recreationally.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:31 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree with elizardbits, and want to add that the guy on the plane says he's a marine. But he says a lot of other things that sound like bullshit. So do we even really know he's a veteran?
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 3:33 PM on August 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


The entire situation probably could have been avoided if the author had insisted that Unruly Passenger get out of his seat. U.P. sounds like would have caused a scene over the seat and probably would have been kicked off the plane before it took off.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 3:36 PM on August 21, 2012 [12 favorites]


Ericb, I had a thought similar to yours. My guess is that he posted it on twitter because that's what he uses for personal stuff (maybe he has no blog or one where this would be off-topic). It is hard to imagine an indie filmmaker flying across the country with no way of typing down what happened.
posted by snofoam at 3:37 PM on August 21, 2012


At the risk of possible derail, I have a story:

A long time ago (maybe 1972-3) I went to a Leonard Cohen concert in Royce Hall on the campus of UCLA.

About 1/3 or the way into the set, a guy gets up and starts pacing around, speaking incoherently, and finally climbs up on the stage, just out of it. The security guards are a bit late in responding, but they finally get to this guy, one on each arm, and start to escort him out.

Cohen stops them, politely gestures to them to stand back a bit, and then proceeds to talk with this guy, quietly. They ended up with their feet dangling off the side of the stage, holding hands, still quietly talking. I think that I can remember that security still wanted to take they guy away, but Cohen waved them off, and then stepped back to the microphone, and said, "hey let's all sit on the stage," or something to that effect.

So many many people climb onto the stage, in and around the band, and the concert proceeds. I do not know what happened to this guy, whether he just blended in with the crowd, or whether there was some sort of consequence for him, but for me, and most there, this was a very memorable night.

I was with my big sister (after having tickets and failing to find a date) and was uncomfortable leaving her, so I kept my seat.

But if I ever got to meet Mr. Cohen, I would ask him about this, and how he defused this potentially bad situation, and how he, counter-intuitively, met this guy's anger and confusion with love.

I realize that, on a plane, this would be a stretch, and I doubt that I would have the courage to do this, but my ideal self would give it a shot.
posted by Danf at 3:39 PM on August 21, 2012 [159 favorites]


"Hey that's my seat man I said. A quick drawling fuck you its mine now was the response I sat down next to him mumbling 'charming'."

You reap what you sow. This could have stopped right then and there, before takeoff. The very first thing I would have done in this situation is called a crew member and had it resolved then and there. If he was so unstable that he'd blow up right there, they'd take him off and we'd be on our way.

By caving in to the man taking his seat, our agent just fucked it up for everybody including the disturbed man.

You cave in to assholes at your own - and other's - risk. I try not to have my rights arbitrarily restricted by anyone. I wish more people strongly asserted themselves - that kind of social policing would certainly cut down on what people feel entitled to do to others.
posted by VikingSword at 3:39 PM on August 21, 2012 [33 favorites]


You can be disgusted about the pervasive lack of available resources for the mentally ill - veterans in particular - in the USA while still wanting an uncontrollable violent groper to be subject to the same laws as everyone else.

Sure, of course. But if there were better resources for the mentally ill, there would presumably be fewer violent incidents being perpetrated by the mentally ill upon others.
posted by scody at 3:39 PM on August 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


It seems like you ask just to rail on why Twitter sucks or something. Why not just go ahead and do that, get it out of your system

Twitter is not the proper format for telling a story like this, how about that? Remember the good ol' days when people told long stories on blogs? With paragraphs and everything?
posted by zardoz at 3:40 PM on August 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


Remember the good ol' days when people told long stories on blogs?

OH GOD THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I'M GOING TO BE SAYING TO MY GRANDKIDS
posted by Greg Nog at 3:41 PM on August 21, 2012 [46 favorites]


By caving in to the man taking his seat, our agent just fucked it up for everybody including the disturbed man.

Or you know, the Agent could've taken the train across the country, it's way more environmentally responsible. He kind of fucked the world there if you ask me.
posted by dobie at 3:41 PM on August 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


your grandkids are cats though
posted by elizardbits at 3:44 PM on August 21, 2012 [29 favorites]


ericb: Some one please tell me -- WTF did he write all of this down 'after the fact' and use multiple Twitter posts to do so?

Who are you to tell him how he chooses to communicate?
posted by IAmBroom at 3:44 PM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can't BELIEVE this guy had the cojones to use a MICRO-BLOG when obviously he should've used a REGULAR SIZED BLOG.
posted by FeralHat at 3:45 PM on August 21, 2012 [30 favorites]


And I'm really not sure that its a good idea that he's hanging around the front where all the buttons are for the doors.

Isn't it physically impossible to open the doors while the plane's pressurized?
posted by resurrexit at 3:47 PM on August 21, 2012


zardoz: Twitter is not the proper format for telling a story like this, how about that?

Honestly, where is all this egotistical "you must do it like THIS!" nonsense coming from? I'm annoyed that some people think I don't have the right to use some words; now you're telling us how we're even allowed to talk to each other...
posted by IAmBroom at 3:50 PM on August 21, 2012


Yeah I wondered that too, surely there is a locking system and not just a button to hit. Turns out it is even simpler. The doors open in to the pressurized cabin and they are beveled so they can't somehow be pulled out into the open air, it is effectively sealed unless the cabin loses pressure. It is called a plug door.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:52 PM on August 21, 2012


By caving in to the man taking his seat, our agent just fucked it up for everybody including the disturbed man.

I think he did the right thing. He didn't have any way of knowing how this guy would react. Better to keep everybody calm and try to defuse the situation; the odds were good that that would be the end of it. A seat isn't that important. I'm all for standing up for your rights, but some things aren't worth going to the mat, especially when you have little information to base a decision on.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 3:55 PM on August 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Danf, that's a great story.

I was doing an arty installation thing in the Wellington Railway Station, big echoey place, a few years back. The show was six (?) hours long so we got plenty of randoms including a drunk Maori guy in a red hoodie, shouting 'I can do that... I can do that". So Taika, one of the actors (and all round smart guy), got him into it, pulling him on stage. And the next ten minutes were the most awesome two hand improv comedy I think I've ever seen. Dude went off walking on air.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:55 PM on August 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Who is William Morris and why is it relevant that this guy was his agent? Wikipedia is not helping.
posted by afx237vi at 3:57 PM on August 21, 2012


William Morris Endeavor is a a Talent Agency -- he was basically saying that people in Entertainment are crazypants.
posted by brainmouse at 3:58 PM on August 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


Up North a young man recently leapt to his death from a plane, though I imagine it was smaller and flying at a lower altitude.
posted by ODiV at 4:00 PM on August 21, 2012


This was a compelling story and I liked the as-it-happens feel of the Twitter presentation. I wonder what I would have done in that situation. It seems risky sitting next to the guy. It's really interesting to have access to these kinds of first-hand reports and get so close the impression that you're looking over somebody's shoulder. How does it shape your behavior when there's somebody's looking over your shoulder? Did he already consider posting this on Twitter when he engaged with the guy? Perhaps he did, and that's why it ended up this way.
posted by deo rei at 4:01 PM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Aaaaah, that makes more sense than William Morris the 19th century textile designer, thanks :)
posted by afx237vi at 4:01 PM on August 21, 2012 [11 favorites]


He didn't have any way of knowing how this guy would react.

Oh, I think I'd have a clue, if I was told: "fuck you its mine now". I don't think the clue gets any more clear without blinking lights and a siren.

the odds were good that that would be the end of it

I'm afraid that it's pretty clear that the odds were very good that it would not be the end of it.

A seat isn't that important.

The guy goes to special trouble to book that particular seat, seems important. But it's really not about how important the seat is. It's about what it says about someone who not only boldly takes the seat but erupts with a profanity and a defiant confirmation of his intentional violation of the other guy's rights. That's not only highly significant - it is also intolerable.

The point is that by reacting early to clear signs of trouble, we can head off much greater trouble down the road. The right guy gets his seat back, and the other fellow gets the help he clearly needs, and the trip is not affected for the rest of passengers+crew.
posted by VikingSword at 4:05 PM on August 21, 2012 [14 favorites]


Asshole does not equal "unsafe for flight", and I see no way that provocation isn't going to at least some of the time create your problem passenger.

But if hindsight is 20/20, the internet version is x-ray specs.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:08 PM on August 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


isn't the national health care policy now exactly the opposite of that? That no one can be kept locked up without their own consent?

Not entirely true. The initial involuntary hold is three days across the US; I don't know about other countries. After 3 days there is usually a hearing about whether the person still "fits criteria", meaning they are 1) gravely disabled, 2) a danger to themselves, 3) a danger to others. All of these criteria are highly subjective; one of the side effects of the recent budget cuts is that criteria have become much more strict, leading to people not being held involuntarily who would have in a heartbeat five years ago. This can be heartbreaking for people waiting for someone to starve JUST ENOUGH to qualify unequivocally as Gravely Disabled.

Often the involuntary detainment can continue as long as the doctors can make a case for the person meeting criteria. Clients can argue their own case, and sometimes that is seen as evidence they don't meet criteria. However, clients can also be Conserved, which means they are deemed unable to act in their own best interests and so they can no longer make decisions for themselves. This is a relatively long process, but the end result can be that they no longer have the right to not consent to anything their Conservator decides they have to do - which can result in an unending involuntary hold. Again, Clients can argue yearly against being conserved, but the power is really in the hands of the state (who often employ the conservators).

Possible outcomes are, as near as I can tell form my vantage point, almost random. The system is very, very strange and becomes stranger the less money we have.

To be clear, though; I am not arguing against conservatorship. I have yet to run across a situation where I think it is not warranted (there's one close call, but the conservatorship remains only because she never bothers to contest it). Liberty, consent, and rights become much more slippery when one is within the mental health system, though. Now more legal effort is given to make sure clients' best interests are represented, but the nature of the beast is that the clinicians - like me - will always have much more power than our clients, and both we and the clients know it. It causes a sometimes unhealthy dynamic when enough denial is added into the mix.
posted by Deoridhe at 4:10 PM on August 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


VikingSword: We get it, you're a tough guy. You think treating everyone as if they are going through their own personal battles is for the weak.

Me, I prefer the Leonard Cohen way.
posted by danny the boy at 4:13 PM on August 21, 2012 [22 favorites]


Only on Metafilter would you see one of the first comments about an air-range incident and the attendant weird and rather sad story being "why was this on twitter?"

Anyway, it was an engaging story, despite the horror of having to move my eyes down a page more than is acceptable.
posted by ob at 4:17 PM on August 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


Just wanting your seat back makes you a "tough guy"? A seat you specifically booked? Back from a guy who responds with profanity and hostility to your polite request? That makes you a "tough guy"?

As to "personal battles" - quite the opposite. I think people deserve help - and not responding to behavior that clearly violates your rights, is not helping. Summon help. That's not a "tough guy" thing - it's the only humane thing you can do; ignoring it is not going to make it go away.
posted by VikingSword at 4:19 PM on August 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


I gotta say, I'm not tough, but if I booked a window seat, and the person in my window seat says, "fuck you," I'm going to summon a flight attendant, because what the hell is up with that?
posted by BrashTech at 4:24 PM on August 21, 2012 [28 favorites]


So people do use this stuff recreationally.


I think I just fell out of my chair
posted by gagglezoomer at 4:27 PM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Some one please tell me -- WTF did he write all of this down 'after the fact' and use multiple Twitter posts to do so?

Because a twitter client on a phone or iPad is incredibly convenient - and the thoughts are immediately "out there"
posted by mattoxic at 4:29 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I fly a lot and I prefer window seats. People often try to take my seat (?). I say, "Hello, you're in my seat." Usually, they apologize and move or politely ask me to change seats. One time, though, a woman looked at me and explained that she had a disability that required her to sit next to the window. I turned around and told a flight attendant what the woman told me. The flight attendant rolled her eyes, then upgraded my seat for free.

So, yeah, I vote to tell the flight attendant about the crazy person. It's, however unfortunately, part of their job to deal with it.
posted by kamikazegopher at 4:30 PM on August 21, 2012 [20 favorites]


So glad I just bought plane tickets.

Do crazy people go to Toronto?
posted by maryr at 4:33 PM on August 21, 2012


That would be my choice as well. I just don't think it's anyone's job to spot a potentially problematic asshole and see if they can push them over the edge.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:34 PM on August 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


It actually wouldn't occur to me to just sit next to him -- how did he know the guy was supposed to be in that middle seat and wasn't just in some random seat? It doesn't sound like he showed him his boarding pass. They do headcounts and stuff based on where you're sitting. They also double-book seats sometimes in which case you'd need somebody involved because the flight might be overbooked. I can't imagine just deciding to sit in a (possibly) random different seat without someone official involved. Forget "tough guy" or whatever, it just seems like a really weird thing to do.
posted by brainmouse at 4:34 PM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I gotta say, I'm not tough, but if I booked a window seat, and the person in my window seat says, "fuck you," I'm going to summon a flight attendant, because what the hell is up with that?

Not if you are in upside/down blackiswhite MefiWorld, where you become the bad guy for not saying "oh, yes, fuck me - of course, you're right". Because to calmly call a flight attendant at that moment makes you an a cruel oppressor who persecutes those dealing with "personal battles".

One time, though, a woman looked at me and explained that she had a disability that required her to sit next to the window. I turned around and told a flight attendant what the woman told me. The flight attendant rolled her eyes, then upgraded my seat for free.

See, being the evil vicious "tough guy" oppressor, I would in this circumstance actually consider letting the woman keep the seat. If she lied to me, I'd be a chump, and that's fine. At least the way she asks is not indicative of serious trouble ahead, unlike "fuck you, it's mine now" - that shit needs to be dealt with pronto for the safety of all.
posted by VikingSword at 4:35 PM on August 21, 2012 [13 favorites]


If our hero had been a military type, he would have just failed this test of Situational Awareness and Response...exactly what VikingSword would have done. But this guy is in the arts. How could he pass up the opportunity to have this dangerous and possibly rewarding experience?
posted by snsranch at 4:35 PM on August 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's really interesting to have access to these kinds of first-hand reports and get so close the impression that you're looking over somebody's shoulder. How does it shape your behavior when there's somebody's looking over your shoulder? Did he already consider posting this on Twitter when he engaged with the guy?

It's also possible he typed all this out on his iPhone (or what have you) blow by blow while on the plane, but that he didn't have internet access until he landed/got home.

(And if someone took my window seat, I would be sadface, but I probably would not mess with the scary looking drunk guy if I could help it. Probably better to be stuck in the middle seat next to him than crammed in between a window and a pissed off scary drunk guy.)
posted by maryr at 4:38 PM on August 21, 2012


But this story isn't about what happened to the guy who called a flight attendant when his seat was taken?
posted by deo rei at 4:38 PM on August 21, 2012


But it could have been!
posted by maryr at 4:39 PM on August 21, 2012


I like the hilarious entry well into the story:

The stewardesses come up and try to talk to hoodie to no avail. Then they look around & ask if anyone wants to volunteer to sit next to him

No takers, I gather.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:41 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel for the decompensating Marine, but my sympathies are really with the pregnant woman who got groped. It seemed to me that the former William Morris agent [whocares] completely dismissed and minimized what happened to her, just because he wanted to be the Unruly Passenger Whisperer.
posted by gentian at 4:43 PM on August 21, 2012 [39 favorites]


VikingSword: "Not if you are in upside/down blackiswhite MefiWorld, where you become the bad guy for not saying "oh, yes, fuck me - of course, you're right". "

Dude, no, your position is that you should be confrontational with a guy who is visibly unbalanced. I'm not going to fault someone for avoiding escalating conflict with the person they likely have to sit next to for the next 6 hours.

Do you not get that?
posted by danny the boy at 4:43 PM on August 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah Twitter sucks for this kind of thing. Sorry, it just does.
posted by Brocktoon at 4:45 PM on August 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I save the "projection of authority" business for extreme seat recliners. You don't want my upside-down face glowering at you as you recline into my lap.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:46 PM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dude, no, your position is that you should be confrontational with a guy who is visibly unbalanced.

No. I'm not proposing to interact with him at all, confrontational or otherwise, including not playing amateur psychiatrist "what if I meekly submit, surely that'll calm him down". I propose to call for people whose specific job it is to deal with situations like these.

I'm not going to fault someone for avoiding escalating conflict with the person they likely have to sit next to for the next 6 hours.

You are escalating the conflict by playing into the disturbed person's behavior. You are less likely to have to sit next to them for the next six hours precisely if you call a flight attendant, rather than plump down next to them voluntarily. Further, how do you know you are not actually encouraging further aggression by submitting to it? Let others deal with it - call for a flight attendant - that's what they are there for. De-escalate by taking yourself out of direct interaction with a proven aggressor - do the responsible thing and let professionals handle this, it's their job to resolve these conflicts, not yours.

Do you not get that?

Oh, I get it. But do you get it?
posted by VikingSword at 4:51 PM on August 21, 2012 [9 favorites]


Dude, no, your position is that you should be confrontational with a guy who is visibly unbalanced.

No, that is flight attendant's job. That is what they are there for. If someone is "visibly unbalanced" over a seat, then hell yes you call a flight attendant so they can actually deal with the situation before the plane takes off. Chances are that the guy would have probably caused a scene and gotten kicked off the flight. I'm a small woman, not a "tough guy," and if someone told me "fuck you it's mine now," I would get my damn seat.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 5:03 PM on August 21, 2012 [14 favorites]


Also, if there is something clearly wrong with someone on a plane, seat stealing situation or not, you owe it to yourself and everyone else on that plane to get a professional to handle the situation. Once the plane takes off, you're confined to a space until the plane can touch down and that's where people get assaulted physically and sexually which is what happened in the story.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 5:06 PM on August 21, 2012 [20 favorites]


Isn't it physically impossible to open the doors while the plane's pressurized?
posted by resurrexit at 5:47 PM on August 21 [+] [!]


Hello, he's a filmmaker...
posted by goethean at 5:08 PM on August 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


Incidentally, there are quite a few mentally disturbed individuals walking around LA, with mental health services being what they are. There was one guy who used to sometimes come by the local Starbucks here in WeHo, and scream at people aggressively, lurching toward them and startling them. I, like everyone else, would sit at my table and ignore the situation. Then one day in March I come and hear that a week ago the guy stabbed someone - thankfully not killing them.

It just makes you wonder what you should or should not have done all these months when a clearly psychotic individual is acting in disturbing ways. By nature, I'm a live and let live guy - almost to an extreme. I don't feel qualified to assess someone's mental health. Do I call the cops? What if the cops come and the guy gets harassed but no help? Is it my place to call, if the people he's screaming at are not calling on their own? How is it my business? Should I mind my own damn business? Is it maybe free speech, extreme version, and I should let go of my petty bourgeoise notions of interaction. And fuck it, I don't want to be involved. All theoretical until someone gets hurt. But I genuinely don't have an answer except -

- I'll act when the behavior is directed at me. I am then in a position to judge, because it is happening to me - do I call the cops, do I let it slide and have him lurch at someone else? In this situation, a guy takes MY seat, and goes "fuck you it's mine now". Yeah, I feel entitled to react to this situation - by calling a flight attendant.
posted by VikingSword at 5:13 PM on August 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


Strangely enough I enjoyed this split up in twitter posts. It made it a little more suspenseful, and a little more emotionally punchy when he sat down to talk to the guy. Maybe that's just me.

As others have said, clonazepam is definitely not bipolar specific, and depending on the dosage can actually be fairly mild. Sounds like the guy was continually popping them, though, so even if it was a low dose I'm surprised he wasn't way more out of it by the time he was taken into custody. Taking that into consideration, I have a hard time believing that a Hannibal Lecter style mask would have been even remotely necessary.
posted by Et3rnalCynic at 5:18 PM on August 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


You don't have to say, "that's MY seat." Hold the boarding pass up, visibly compare it with the seat numbers, tilt your head quizzically, and say to the attendant, "I'm confused about the seat numbering."
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:20 PM on August 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


The point being, obviously, that by calling for help with a clearly disturbed individual, you are doing the responsible thing. What if things went very badly, and someone got seriously hurt? Perhaps the pregnant woman? All while you are playing amateur psychiatrist who is going to "handle the guy". Call for help - for the sake of everyone, including the disturbed guy who might be spared serious charges and actually get help.
posted by VikingSword at 5:21 PM on August 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Do crazy people go to Toronto?


Does this count?

Was flying to Toronto when this youngish women in front of me started yelling and swearing. It was hard to figure out what was going on at first. The attendent showed up to calm her down. Seems as if she got mad because the guy in front of her put his seat back. The attendent tried to diffuse the situation and then with little warning the women put both her feet on the back of the chair in front of her and shoved it as hard as she could. It was then I learned how far an airplane seat will move, the guy seemed to fly forward and hit the seat in front of him. It must have hurt. Off course he was not pleased but I give him kudos that he quickly got up and walked away instead of joining in.

Within seconds one of the pilots appeared and somehow they managed to talk the women down and escorted her to a seat in the front. Luckily there were lots of free seats. We weren't that far from Toronto. I'm guessing the women thought she won somehow because she sure wasn't happy when we landed. After we reached the gate we were asked to remain seated for a few minutes. Next thing we knew a couple of cops appeared and the girl was put in cuffs. I tried to hear what they were saying but couldn't. However word spread back that they mentioned being charged with assault. I did see the guy who got shoved talking to a cop who was taking notes after I exited.
posted by Jalliah at 5:21 PM on August 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I actually thought the Twitter format of the story made it really compelling, like a condensed version of the old film serial shorts, but I like different ways of telling stories.
posted by padraigin at 5:27 PM on August 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Regarding Elwes’ use of Twitter to post this thing, I see it as a smart use of appropriate digital technology by a media savvy guy. The Twitter presentation conveyed a dramatic sense of immediacy, as well as allowing him to write the whole thing in shorthand while it was fresh for him.

Its also, especially for a guy with a good track record, a clever way to pitch an idea to a studio. If you go to Cassian Elwes IMDB page you will see that his most recent effort is a project called *Airspace*, now in pre-production. That’s bound to elicit its fair share of cynicism on Mefi, but if the movie is as good as the pitch I’m all for it.
posted by Huplescat at 5:29 PM on August 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


If someone's sitting in my window seat on a cross country flight, we're getting things sorted out before the plane pulls back. If they're sitting in my middle seat they can keep it.
posted by whuppy at 5:33 PM on August 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


If someone's sitting in my window seat on a cross country flight, we're getting things sorted out before the plane pulls back.

That's an interesting way to spell "aisle"! :)

(My personal rule is window for less than four hours, aisle for anything longer)
posted by the cydonian at 5:52 PM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


It seems like you ask just to rail on why Twitter sucks or something. Why not just go ahead and do that, get it out of your system.

Bzzt. Wrong. I am a prolific Twitter user myself. Your next comment?
posted by ericb at 5:57 PM on August 21, 2012


My impression of this situation may be skewed by the fact that I can no longer picture in-flight scenarios without imagining the cast of LOST.

Leave the punk alone. He's in bloody Driveshaft.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:02 PM on August 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Or you know, the Agent could've taken the train across the country, it's way more environmentally responsible

The danger with that is then you risk being stuck with a crazy next to you for 40 hours.

I took the train from LA to Chicago some years back (was going to fly a cheapo airline but ValuJet crashed in the Everglades a couple days before my trip). I was in coach--no sleeper compartment. About two hours into the two-day trip the guy sitting behind me, a Harry Dean Stanton-looking type, started rambling out loud--fairly innocuous but nutty stuff. The one quote I remember: "Cigarette smoke is a stool pigeon!" His point was that the reason smoking was banned on the train was that the movement of the smoke revealed the flow of electrical waves that the government was pumping through the air to control everyone.

I spent a lot of time in the bar car.

When we got to somewhere around central New Mexico, however, the guy's rants got more unpleasant--he was railing about AIDS, using profanity and getting scary. I had talked to the conductor earlier and now said I was more concerned. They ended up taking the guy up to the crew's quarters for however long he stayed on the train. The conductor said that sometimes a passenger will start acting weird when then train reaches higher altitudes, like the Rockies.

But it might have been those electrical waves.
posted by stargell at 6:45 PM on August 21, 2012 [12 favorites]


Honestly, where is all this egotistical "you must do it like THIS!" nonsense coming from? I'm annoyed that some people think I don't have the right to use some words; now you're telling us how we're even allowed to talk to each other...

Calm down, please. I think telling a long-ish story via Twitter is hard to read. That's it. I lose interest in reading it because the long narrative combined with 140 characters doesn't mesh...for me. If you like that, go right ahead. Personally, I'm a fan of paragraphs. That's me, the dinosaur who likes paragraphs.

You can paint a picture on a pile of rocks, I'm not saying you can't, but I'd rather see your painting on a canvas. You can record your band's music on an iPhone, totally up to you! But I think it's completely in the realm of fairness to have an opinion of the sound quality.
posted by zardoz at 6:47 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


The fact that some people don't find it weird that this story was told via tweets, has given me anxiety - like I'm suddenly an old guy on the freeway, wearing a hat and driving 40 mph. Seriously, Twitter?
posted by davebush at 7:07 PM on August 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wow. This is one of the most depressing threads I've seen in a long time. Incredibly affecting story. Tragic even. Told in the immediate aftermath with clarity and compassion. And all this bunch can do is snark and complain. Maybe there's some bad conscience in play, knowing that most of us, in such a situation, wouldn't have half the presence of mind this guy and the air marshal did.

There's an interesting conversation that might be had about the haste and zeal with which we lower the hammer of justice on the deviant actions of people in pain. Alas, that conversation, if it's happening at all, is going on somewhere else.

Thanks to those of you who've shared personal recollections. Danf in particular. You complainers need to get up and take a walk or something.
posted by R. Schlock at 7:08 PM on August 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Twitter posts are a great mechanism to insert time into your story or whatever y'all writin' people call it.

Each 'chapter' can be digested by the reader and placed within a mental timeline of their own construct. In this case is was brilliant if you've ever flown a difficult route appealing to that untold story, the magic of travel, we all keep within but less so if you have not.

I'm sure the format will be abused once it catches on.

Also wondering why Mr. Air Marshall disengaged after such a lackluster showing. That's not very comforting.
posted by jsavimbi at 7:19 PM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's an interesting conversation that might be had about the haste and zeal with which we lower the hammer of justice on the deviant actions of people in pain.

Being in pain doesn't give you free range to sexually assault a pregnant woman, physically assault the author (even if he isn't pressing charges), assault the Air Marshall and generally scare the shit out of everyone else on the plane who are essentially all locked up in the same small room with no escape.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 7:22 PM on August 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm in agreement with VikingSword over what Elwes should have done. That's easy. But it's absurd to say he "fucked it up for everybody".

I mean, that's accurate if humanity boils down to nothing more than a YES/NO causal tree. But even then, it's perverse to pick the point of Elwes' appearance in that tree as the primary point of blame.

We're not all Mr. Spock, say. You can't reasonably expect everyone to react in a completely level-headed, logical manner to an unexpected "FUCK YOU".

Okay, VikingSword can always be relied upon to do the rational thing in that situation, which is good.

For myself, there probably will be times when I don't take the glaringly obvious solution if I've been gobsmacked temporarily.

Yes, I think I would call flight attendant before the flight gets going. But if I'm really tired, or upset about something else? I can't give you a cast-iron guarantee what my reaction would be. Maybe I wouldn't react.

Perhaps Elwes will reflect on the fact he should have summoned the attendant in the first place. But once that became academic, he probably helped prevent a very bad situation becoming horrific.

In fact, were I Elwes, I'd probably be reflecting that reasonably speaking, I did what I could in an unexpected and unwanted situation.

"He fucked it up for everybody!" is just nuts. I know what I'd say to that if I were in Elwes' shoes.
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 7:26 PM on August 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


I, too, found the Twitter posts quite disconcerting and un-put-up-withable. I would much rather have had Monsieur Elwes spend exactly seventeen minutes in my capacious and well-appointed living room while gently delivering an English-accented lecture about the damage US wars have wrought on veterans-cum-commercial air passengers.

I am also discomfited by this world so full of words, punctuation, and sentences. I further believe this is hardly the correct medium to cater to my self-entitled sense of media grandeur.

May I have pastry, too?
posted by mistersquid at 7:30 PM on August 21, 2012


Mary, why do you care? Really? Do you suppose that your forceful reassertion of the absolute rightness of this guy's punishment, blue mesh mask and all, somehow makes the world a better place? Do you think that denying even the near occasion of empathy with a person who's committed crimes at all mitigates the suffering he has caused?

It's a really nice night. You can just feel the first hint of fall in the night air and the crickets are going nuts. I think I'm going to take the dog out for a bit.
posted by R. Schlock at 7:38 PM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Being in pain doesn't give you free range to sexually assault a pregnant woman, physically assault the author (even if he isn't pressing charges), assault the Air Marshall and generally scare the shit out of everyone else on the plane who are essentially all locked up in the same small room with no escape.

As straw-man fallacies go, that's an absolute whopper!
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 7:55 PM on August 21, 2012


Man, people get so het up over tweets. I thought it was a neat way to read the unfolding story. Besides, the guy is Westley's brother.
posted by last night a dj saved my life at 7:55 PM on August 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Westley's brother

I KNEW THAT ELWESESES OF THE WORLD HAD TO BE RELATED!

Oddly enough, a few weeks back I recognized Cary on TV as he played a dapper schizophrenic hallucination on "Perception."
posted by nicebookrack at 8:04 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Several years ago I went to see Killing Joke with two female friends in LA. We're up front and no surprise there's a bit of noshing going on, but it's mostly just a bunch of bros, nothing bad. But there's this one guy. He's HUGE. Probably 6-9 and 300 pound of muscle and he's obviously looking to hurt someone.

He bumps into one of my friends who's a derby girl. She's maybe 5-6 and 130 pounds but she's pissed as hell and yelling at him. And he's getting scary angry.

And that's when I start to panic. Because I'm terrified that he's going to hit my friend and then I'm going to have to defend her. Regardless of the fact that I'm married and nearly middle-aged, if you go after a woman, I'm going to insert myself. And I'm thinking that I'm going to die.

It's right at this point that my other friend shows up. I hadn't even noticed that she had left, with my life passing in front of my eyes and all. She shows up, with two bouncers as big as the guy in question. And she points and just says "Him."

And suddenly he was gone. And by "gone" I mean "subdued and dragged off with amazingly little mess".

That's the way I like to resolve these things now. "Him."
posted by bpm140 at 8:04 PM on August 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


Thank you so much for pointing this out to us.

Not at all what I expected.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:07 PM on August 21, 2012


Okay, VikingSword can always be relied upon to do the rational thing in that situation, which is good.

I'm as rational or irrational as the next guy. But it is my supposition - maybe wrong - that it is Elwes who is the outlier here with his reaction. I mean, take the average person faced with that situation - you come to your seat and have that exchange. Tell me, wouldn't the vast majority of people react to a "fuck you it's mine now" by calling a flight attendant? Sure, you'd be shocked and taken aback, but in a few moments it would sink in... and I'm not saying you're standing there screaming for the flight attendant - you leave and go find a flight attendant. Or do you think it highly Spock like to react in this way?

"He fucked it up for everybody!" is just nuts.

You might think that. But see a post of mine a couple above this one. I had the experience of having done nothing, because it didn't concern me directly. A guy got stabbed as a result of nobody doing anything after months of disturbed behavior by a psychotic. I'm still uneasy about having done nothing, and frankly to this day I'm not sure what I should have done without the benefit of hindsight. But Elwes was in a unique situation vs everybody else on that flight - he had knowledge that the guy was incredibly aggressive and probably disturbed; others didn't have that encounter. Wasn't it his responsibility to the rest of the people as well as himself and even the disturbed man, to get help? That's the context in which I said he fucked it up for everyone - because it was upon him to do something about it, and he elected to play psychiatrist and try to "handle" the guy. And look how that ended, though it could've been worse.
posted by VikingSword at 8:14 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


In fact, were I Elwes, I'd probably be reflecting that reasonably speaking, I did what I could in an unexpected and unwanted situation.

I mean, it's weird that anybody can claim that Elwes could have stopped the entire thing by the arbitrary metric of 'seat assignment', which is like saying that because you ignored the dude who happened to cut in front of you at the supermarket, it's your fault that a potential robbery might have happened. Unless you're making the point that we should all be testy and anal about every slight we ever happen to come across in our lives for fear of the psychotics who live among us, the only lesson to be learned here is that hindsight is 20/20 and so long as you can look past the indie auteur sappiness, it doesn't have all that bad of an ending.
posted by dubusadus at 8:15 PM on August 21, 2012


Reading this I'm half-sympathetic to disturbed plane guy, more-than-half inclined to direct this narrative toward the fictional Manpain Chart. Hush, whiny gropeable pregnant lady, you're interfering with ~human drama~
posted by nicebookrack at 8:21 PM on August 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


Besides, the guy is Westley's brother.

If we'd known that when this thread started, it would have been all Princess Bride references.

So what I'm saying is, let's start over.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:39 PM on August 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Clearly the Aggravated Man Whisperer brigade is out in force. Everyone giving VikingSword a bunch of crap have some really nice rose-colored shades on.

Visibly agitated man starts by taking someone else's seat. Gives a hearty "fuck you" to the person actually assigned to the seat, and somehow you think that it was a good idea after all for Elwes to pretend it never happened, until they were up in a pressurized can with a couple hundred of their closest friends and now way to get out?

There's a name for that sort of person. Enabler. Instead of summoning a professional in charge who is trained to deal with this precise sort of situation -- yes, in all likelihood this would have precipitated in a confrontation before the flight and Aggravated Man would've been removed from the flight -- he decided to let it go on and hope that the first display of aggression was a fluke or something.
posted by chimaera at 8:43 PM on August 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


Umm, maybe he used twitter so he wouldn't have to tell each of his friends individually, "So, did you hear what happened to me on the plane the other day?"
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 9:07 PM on August 21, 2012


Wasn't it his responsibility to the rest of the people as well as himself and even the disturbed man, to get help?

He could have done what you suggest, what he actually did is something else, and almost everything that makes this is a compelling read is a result of what he did and not of what he should have done. It is a sobering look into a very broken life.
posted by deo rei at 9:26 PM on August 21, 2012


Maybe in the morning I'll regret sharing this with you, MetaFilter, (and writing it on my phone, geez) but I used to be married to a guy like this plane guy. He was a great guy a lot of the time, but sometimes something would set him off and he'd descend (or ascend?) into mania and then psychosis. It would last for weeksat a time. There was not a lot I could do about it. If I was lucky I could trick him into going to the hospital with me, or he would get into a fight or make a scene and the cops would take him there for me. At the hospital they would keep him for a week, and then send him home with a prescription for drugs he he couldn't afford and didn't want to take, and the cycle would begin anew.

I entered the scene as a Leonard Cohen myself. Before long my husband was totally dependent on me, and I came to loathe Leonard Cohens. They would attach themselves to him when he was out crashing strangers' parties and starting fights barefoot in bars and calling bystanders vile names on the subway. "Hey man," they probably said to him. "Take it easy there, looks like you're having a rough night! Naw, no need to call the cops, this guy is with me." He would tell them about times he'd been beaten by cops or his parents, lost loves, drug problems, mental hospital traumas, and recite his beautiful poetry. They were sympathetic, would buy him a drink, slip him a twenty, buck him up and send him back to me. I guess maybe they went home patting themselves on the back for keeping the guy from falling into the hands of the man or whatever.

By five or six AM he'd be crashing into our studio apartment, yelling, and I'd crawl out of bed with the crying baby in my arms, and then I would start crying too because inevitably I'd find him dismantling my musical instruments to build a spaceship engine (historical fact) or cutting up my precious books to construct a dada novel (ditto) and assuring me that he was fine, the only problem was that I didn't understand him the way Leonard Cohen did. A stranger off the street cared more about him than I did. Why should he get help? Did I think I was better than him? Leonard Cohen might be the greatest songwriter of all time (though typically it would be an undergrad student or like a playwright or something), did I think I was a better judge of character than Leonard Cohen?

I mean, I married the guy, so you could say I made my bed. And I did manage to extricate myself and my baby from the situation more or less intact. But when I was in the trenches with that guy I fucking hated those Leonard Cohens who would swoop in, convince my desperately ill husband he was okay, and then smugly swoop right the fuck back out. If you find yourself stuck next to him on a plane or on the subway or at a party or whatever, and you want to be compassionate, I'm begging you, the decent thing to do is not to enable it. Call a professional. Get the guy some help.
posted by milk white peacock at 9:48 PM on August 21, 2012 [153 favorites]


Everyone arguing that Elwes made a mistake by not immediately summoning the flight attendant upon this guy's initial outburst is making the same mistaken assumption: that events X, Y, and Z would have occurred, resulting in the removal of the problematic passenger, with no problems. This is a hypothetical. You have no idea what would have happened. What if Elwes had summoned the flight attendant, there had been a confrontation, and the troubled individual punched the flight attendant, breaking his jaw? What if the attendant had come and the other passenger cooperated, switched seats, and then attacked Elwes as the plane climbed? What if.

The reason you might get accused of being a tough guy is not because others think you're overly confident in your ability to Handle Yourself (TM), but because you're wildly overconfident in your ability to predict what will happen in any given situation. The people who are so certain that they know what would have happened in their model hypothetical universe are not broadly looking at this problem. What if this mentally ill guy smiled and said 'Fuck you, man, it's mine now' and it came out kind of charming and Elwes said to himself 'oh, screw it, I don't care.'

And to those people making noises along the lines of if someone takes MY seat you better BELIEVE I'm making something out of it -- how important is it that your butt be located nineteen inches further to the left for six hours?

Get a damn grip. You don't even know what happened in this world. Stop telling us what the rest of us did wrong in hypotheical worlds.

As far as the end result of this, I'm completely fine with this guy facing criminal justice. The only problem is that the criminal justice system in this country has been hijacked, and that's a lot scarier than what some drunk, high, damaged guy can do on a plane. He allegedly assaulted a woman, he should face justice, and if found guilty, enter a penal system designed around the premise of making him well. Crime is a disease. You can't cure people by punishing them.
posted by samofidelis at 10:55 PM on August 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


But this story isn't about what happened to the guy who called a flight attendant when his seat was taken?

Well, as it happens I can tell you how that story goes (and without even using Twitter), as I suspect many other people can — if you fly enough times, eventually you'll end up with a "crazy person on an airplane" story.

A few years ago I went to sit down in my assigned seat, which happened to be in an exit row, and found some guy already sitting there. No big deal, airline probably overbooked it. So I ask him if he has seat 37A (or whatever it was) too. And get a very unsettling, spittle-flecked tirade about how no, it's not his seat but the airline and the government are out to get him and I'm out to get him too and he'll kill anyone who tries to take that seat.

Maybe it makes me a bad person, but the idea of just dropping into the seat next to him and chatting for the next few hours truly never occurred to me. Honestly, that seems like it would have been very confrontational. I did what I think most reasonable people would do, which was to back up out of easy getting-punched-in-the-face range and let the cabin crew know that the seat was, in a word, taken.

And that's basically the end of my involvement in the whole thing; they asked me if I minded taking a bulkhead seat rather than an exit row, I said "sure, no problem," and sat there. There might have been a free drink involved later.

As for the guy in the exit row, he ended up not making the flight, but the flight crew were pretty polite and de-escalatory about the whole thing as far as I could tell. I assume that's what they're trained to do. Four or five people from the airline (of increasing apparent seniority) walked back to talk to him before deciding that, no, he couldn't stay in the exit row. Finally he followed one of the gate agents off. There was a little shouting but no actual violence. The flight pushed back, and that was the end of the story.

It's a pretty lame story as flights-from-hell stories go, but I'm not really sure in retrospect that I can say that I wish anyone had acted differently. Rather, it's one of those rare stories where something unusual happened, and the airline seemed to have a procedure in place for dealing with it, and nothing bad happened as a result. Certainly nobody got assaulted or groped. The guy in the exit row had his inevitable interaction with the flight crew when everyone was on the ground and pretty relaxed, rather than at several thousand feet and with the 'help' of a bunch of anxious passengers. I can imagine a lot of worse ways that things might have gone.

So while I'm not necessarily judging the author for deciding to sit down next to someone he thought was unbalanced — if he honestly thought that he could successfully de-escalate the situation by himself — at least in my experience you can obtain pretty good results by just letting the professionals handle things. And I think on a more general level: if you don't do that, if you choose to get involved in the situation yourself, whether through direct action or passive refusal to let anyone else know that there's potentially a problem while it gets worse, then you take a certain amount of responsibility for the outcome. If you're comfortable with that, fine. But I certainly wasn't, and wouldn't be tomorrow if it happened again.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:59 PM on August 21, 2012 [16 favorites]


[Comment deleted. Just say what you want to say without the overwrought theatrical sarcasm act, please.]
posted by taz at 12:49 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


What an odd thread.
In the moment - when one hears "fuck you, it's mine now" - nobody could possibly know what would happen either way, whether we speak to a flight attendant or just sit down and say nothing. I don't know what I would do in that situation myself - probably depends on my mood at the moment - but I can't understand why the idea of speaking with a flight attendant seems so outrageous...? If it has to do with the guy in this particular story possibly being a veteran suffering from PTSD and so we should have sympathy and not call in "the man" or something... well nobody could know that at that moment anyway, and in this particular story look where he's ending up after all. I also can't really fault anyone who chooses to just sit down. I have been Leonard Cohen several times. But a pressurized cylinder forty thousand feet in the air may not be the time for that, and milk white peacock's comment certainly gives me pause.
Oh and what's with the "tough guy" stuff? The person who wants to speak with the flight attendant is the "tough guy", rather than someone who thinks "oh I can handle this on my own, no need to involve the folks who get paid to deal with this sort of thing"?
What an odd thread.
posted by zoinks at 1:28 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't feel qualified to assess someone's mental health. Do I call the cops? What if the cops come and the guy gets harassed but no help?

Call the police, and if the person is saying things which don't seem to conform to a general shared reality you can add that you think it might be a psychiatric emergency. I don't know if LA has it, but where I live/work we have some police who voluntarily took extra training to be educated on how to respond to a psychiatric emergency and liaison with the local crisis management team, which will do an assessment for an involuntary hold. If someone is actively being aggressive in the community with disordered speech, chances are they are at least marked down in the system somewhere. If you feel like being pro-active you can get the public telephone number of your local crisis management program, but if they're anything like our local there has to be a police presence anyway.

Of course, as I said before, it's almost random what will happen to a person from that point on, but a history of being brought to the notice of crisis teams can result in someone getting services. By services I mean a psychiatrist, a case manager, likely a pathway to social security (to cover the bills) and medical/medicare (to cover the meds), as well as possibly support from the local housing options to get shelter. There are also federal programs which can manage clients' money if it's deemed necessary by the case manager. Most of the clients I work with have all of this established, and often have additional benefits, like a nurse to pack their medications (often necessary if the regime is a complicated one).

All of this costs, of course, and the funds for it are being cut steadily. Another option for helping is getting involved with the local organizations that advocate for people with persistent mental disorders, like NAMI. If you're involved in local politics, bring up support for the mentally ill (and developmentally disabled, and addicts) as something of central importance, both on an ethical level and on a financial one. Not everyone can be helped, however; a certain amount of public strangeness is simply inevitable, the trick is to keep it non-violent.

You can also educate yourself on various types of mental illness. The Center Cannot Hold is a fantastic first person perspective on having schizophrenia from a woman who overcame the odds. Anything by Oliver Sacks is both readable and really gives a perspective on how we are all at the mercy of our brains; he deals more with neurology, but there are overlaps between neurology and what we call "mental illnesses". Temple Graidin writes fantastic books about her perspective as an adult with Autism.
posted by Deoridhe at 2:49 AM on August 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Man, why did this guy use Twitter? He should've inscribed the story painstakingly on vellum in Carolingian majuscule using an artisanal pencil, before casting his manuscript into an Irish bog where it wouldn't be found for 800 years, like any reasonable person would. I mean, come on, this is simple stuff.
posted by Sonny Jim at 3:51 AM on August 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


VikingSword: "I had the experience of having done nothing, because it didn't concern me directly. A guy got stabbed as a result of nobody doing anything after months of disturbed behavior by a psychotic. I'm still uneasy about having done nothing, and frankly to this day I'm not sure what I should have done without the benefit of hindsight.

Precisely. With hindsight, you know what you should have done:

"By calling for help with a clearly disturbed individual, you are doing the responsible thing. What if things went very badly, and someone got seriously hurt? ... All while you are playing amateur psychiatrist who is going to "handle the guy". Call for help - for the sake of everyone, including the disturbed guy who might be spared serious charges and actually get help.

Absolutely. But I can't square that with "I'll act when the behavior is directed at me. I am then in a position to judge, because it is happening to me"

Why are you letting yourself off "that kind of social policing" you advocate (and I advocate) to things that "didn't concern me directly"? I think a guy acting weird in a public place is of direct concern to me, even if he's not shouting in my face. I called the cops only two months ago seeing a guy walking down the main road shouting inanities. I was a good 100 yards away in my apartment.

Basically, I don't think you're willing to judge yourself by your own standard - that you were just one of the people that "fucked it up for everybody" with that guy who eventually stabbed someone.

In Chimaera's words, "There's a name for that sort of person. Enabler."

Now, I think that's an unreasonable standard. Either in your case with the guy who eventually knifed someone, or Elwes' case.
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 4:37 AM on August 22, 2012


The point is that by reacting early to clear signs of trouble, we can head off much greater trouble down the road.

You just do not get it, man. By ceding the Sudetenland, we have achieved Peace In Our Time.
posted by Ritchie at 5:24 AM on August 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was once on a plane sitting next to fellow who was using Twitter to convey something that was clearly better suited to another literary form.

The situation escalated. A reroute and police were involved.
posted by mazola at 6:24 AM on August 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


That's not what he said at all. Taking shit from someone stealing your seat and being an asshole about it is not virtuous or charitable. Read his last comment again... Calling out shitty behavior up front would've benefited everyone. Sometimes you pick your battles but that doesn't mean you roll over on every confrontation just in case the other guy needs mental health. Reminds me of my friend telling me about a love interest that lets a random heroin addict crash on her couch because addiction is a disease, therefore the right thing to do is let a near stranger live for free so he can devote his income to remaining an addict a little longer. I hate confrontation but if somebody swears at me in public and is totally in the wrong, I will call them out. He didn't even need to confront the guy directly at that point. Not alerting the crew was irresponsible.
posted by lordaych at 7:03 AM on August 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Refresh fail. My comment was a reaction to the "we get it VikingSword, u r mean" comment up thread.
posted by lordaych at 7:05 AM on August 22, 2012


Internally, I compared the back and forth between the two men as a more disturbing version of My Dinner with Andre.
posted by seppyk at 9:14 AM on August 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


He groped a woman on the plane, and acted like a violent asshole. I don't give a crap how much pain he was in. Not a single crap. Not even a little one.

Unlike milk white peacock, I haven't ever been married to a person like this. But I've been involved with a guy of his ilk. I hated watching people try to pull that sensitive, smug counselor act on the guy I was involved with. The counselor got to feel like a Great Person, despite that they never had the foggiest clue what they were talking about. The guy would always come out feeling validated for his behavior because "There's something wrong me me, I'm in pain, I can't help it" -- and everyone else in his life just kept bearing the burden of knowing him.

Sometimes the Great Person would give me the side-eye for being sick of the guy's crap, for expecting him to just take the consequences of his awful actions, and for having no sympathy left. Whatever. It's easy to be Mr Compassionate Sympathy when you don't have to put up with his manipulative, erratic, alcoholic, violent ways on a daily basis. I couldn't help but think, "I'm sorry, why are we prioritizing pity for this guy, over the constant destruction and hurt he causes to everyone in his life?" Because that kind of tolerance doesn't help the jerk like him, and it disregards the hurt people left in their wakes.
posted by Coatlicue at 9:30 AM on August 22, 2012 [15 favorites]


Total derail, but the idea that even second rate airport cops have a "blue mesh hood" or that the blue mesh hood is A Thing possibly makes me more sad than this entire story.

Does no one else find this just breathtakingly medieval?
posted by digitalprimate at 10:25 AM on August 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Police often have to use spit shields/guards to prevent a suspect, inmate from spitting on them.
posted by ericb at 10:37 AM on August 22, 2012


TheAlarminglySwollenFinger: Being in pain doesn't give you free range to sexually assault a pregnant woman, physically assault the author (even if he isn't pressing charges), assault the Air Marshall and generally scare the shit out of everyone else on the plane who are essentially all locked up in the same small room with no escape.

As straw-man fallacies go, that's an absolute whopper!
That's an account of what actually happened. Straw-man fallacies distort reality.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:39 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, I think I'd have a clue, if I was told: "fuck you its mine now". I don't think the clue gets any more clear without blinking lights and a siren.

Yes, I have to agree here. The plane is being boarded. We're on the ground. We have a six hour flight ahead of us. I don't like to think in hypotheticals, but I'm pretty sure if someone said "fuck you its mine now" in that situation, one of us wouldn't be taking off with that plane.

It's an interesting account, but our hero got out of it with a horrible case of Stockholm syndrome.
posted by gertzedek at 11:21 AM on August 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Thank you milk white peacock, for your comment. The author comes across as arrogant and smug. He obviously has no idea how unpredictable people can be, particularly with addictions or mental illness involved. I'm not saying that people shouldn't offer compassion or de-escalate situations, but that it is really easy to be a bit smug about it without realizing the reasons security or social workers may deal with it in a different way.
posted by Gor-ella at 11:44 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


But if he called the flight attendent he wouldn't have been able to tweet the heartwrenching story of an endlessly empathetic stranger who formed an everlasting connection with a mentally ill individual. I don't doubt this guy had good intentions, but the way he minimized a woman's sexual assault makes me slightly suspicious of his love and compassion for humankind.

Mental health is not guesswork, it takes actual training to effectively handle these types of situations. And even then, someone in the midst of a psychotic breakdown can be unpredictable and DANGEROUS. If he truly cared about the plight of the mentally ill maybe he could, oh I don't know, actually volunteer or participate in actual community education work rather than tweeting this man's story and picture. Raising awareness of our broken mental health system is important, but don't pat yourself on the back for exploiting someone's psychosis.
posted by pugh at 2:36 PM on August 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


As I read this I was thinking of making a comment along the lines of how this was a poor use of twitter. I'm glad I didn't given the bizarre hostility towards those who felt the same way.

What's going on with that? Have opinions become so sacred that one as mundane as blog preference must be met with hostility?
posted by Bonzai at 8:17 AM on August 23, 2012


scody: "But if there were better resources for the mentally ill, there would presumably be fewer violent incidents being perpetrated by the mentally ill upon others."

scody, I totally agree with this. So how do I help? What can I do to affect change? I don't even know what that change would be, but the ideas I have (single payer health system) seem unattainable. So what can I do to make a positive difference for people with mental illness, in a way that improves their lives (i.e. not just calling the cops on them) but also improves society by preventing such incidents?
posted by I am the Walrus at 8:54 AM on August 23, 2012


Sign me up for the "why the hell did you just let this guy take your seat in the first place" train. I am a meek and socially incompetent individual, and if seated next to somebody like this, would most likely shut down entirely and pretend they didn't exist until my deliberate ignorance of them caused them to bludgeon me to death. However, I don't know who is the kind of person that when confronted by a "fuck you" from a large man occupying the seat on the plane they've paid for, doesn't either confront them or contact an authority figure to confront them. Sitting next to a guy like that who just did something like that doesn't seem like something anybody with a lick of sense would do, unless the Difficult Passenger is just doing a caricaturized tropey unstable tough guy thing to facilitate the building of tension in a made-up story where the narrator saves the day by being good at emotions
posted by tehloki at 9:07 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


So what I'm saying is, let's start over.

Inconceivable!
posted by TedW at 9:10 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I sit. The smell of alcohol is incredible

Are we sure it's mental illness? Alcohol and high altitudes can turn people crazy. It's one of the reasons why the air crew try to limit the drinks they give out.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:03 PM on August 23, 2012


My mistake - apparently he was taking some sort of medicine. Still, the fact that he access to medication indicates this fellow has some sort of access as well to the mental health resources.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:21 PM on August 23, 2012


maryr: "Do crazy people go to Toronto?"

Only the return flights.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:08 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


A point to consider for those advocating "letting the flight crew handle it" --

In the story, Elwes mentions that the flight crew was summoned a few times, and in this instance, the only thing the flight crew could do was ask if anyone else wanted to sit next to the guy instead. Do we know for certain that they wouldn't have done something similar ("I'm sorry he's in your seat, sir, but we can give you a complimentary upgrade to business class" ad just letting the guy stay) if they'd been summoned before the flight took off?

Sometimes shit just happens. People don't always react to shit in the same way, and it's easy to say "well, I would certainly have acted more wisely, and clearly events would have unfolded in this different and more agreeable manner" if you weren't there.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:37 AM on August 24, 2012


We can't know for certain what they would have done but if the flight crew had been summoned before the flight took off they'd have at least had the option to get the guy off the plane right away. In the air, not so much.

I feel sorry for everyone in this story - the pregnant woman, the Japanese couple, the unstable guy. The narrator is the only one who could have prevented any of this before the flight took off but he chose not to. Yes, it's admirable that he volunteered to talk to the guy but it shouldn't have come to that.

Also, the lack of help available to the mentally ill is one of the great tragedies in America today.
posted by hazyjane at 2:28 AM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was recently on a plane where an excessively drunk and abusive passenger (sitting in the row behind me) was kicked off in short order. He was howling loudly the entire time the plane was loading, and called the flight attendant a "frigid bitch," among other bon mots.

You cave in to assholes at your own - and other's - risk. I try not to have my rights arbitrarily restricted by anyone. I wish more people strongly asserted themselves - that kind of social policing would certainly cut down on what people feel entitled to do to others.


Victim blaming blah blah, but I completely agree. The guy sitting next to me had enough spine to call the flight attendant, who spoke to the pilot and threw his drunk ass off the plane. The flight would have been horrific with someone sitting behind me, touching other people and throwing around insults like "pussy" and "fucking bitch" the entire time. That shit should not be allowed. As a young woman who already saw this guy's contempt for the fucking flight attendant I was really not prepared to confront him on my own (though I am the kind of person who retrieves an usher when people are being dumbasses in the movie theater), so the guy sitting next to me who stepped up was my hero that day. Even in the passive aggressive Midwest, it's better to put an end to that shit before you're 30,000 ft in the sky with an erratic and abusive person with no boundaries. Creating a social stigma about people who protect their boundaries is worse than kicking someone who has sexually assaulted a passenger off a plane.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:49 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the story, Elwes mentions that the flight crew was summoned a few times, and in this instance, the only thing the flight crew could do was ask if anyone else wanted to sit next to the guy instead. Do we know for certain that they wouldn't have done something similar ("I'm sorry he's in your seat, sir, but we can give you a complimentary upgrade to business class" ad just letting the guy stay) if they'd been summoned before the flight took off?

The answer to your question is: absolutely. The difference between being on the ground and being in the air is critical. A flight crew with an unruly passenger who acted aggressively toward the person whose rightful seat he is presently occupying simply doesn't have to put up with his shit. But they didn't know until they were already in the air and could do fuck-all about it EXCEPT to ask someone else to sit there (remember, it was a full flight).

In the air:
"Fuck you, it's mine now. And fuck you too, Flight Attendant!"
"Well shit, the flight is full, perhaps we can get someone to switch?"
Problem Escalates.
Pilot: "Fuck this, we're landing. Call the airport cops and hope it doesn't turn into a total shitstorm."

On the ground:
"Fuck you, it's mine now. And fuck you too, Flight Attendant!"
Airplane sits stationary for a couple minutes. Cops arrive and escort Mr. My-Anguish-Makes-Me-Violent-Its-Not-Really-My-Fault away and introduce him to Mr. Holding-Cell.
Flight leaves late but doesn't have to make an unscheduled stop.
posted by chimaera at 4:07 PM on August 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Do we know for certain that they wouldn't have done something similar ("I'm sorry he's in your seat, sir, but we can give you a complimentary upgrade to business class" ad just letting the guy stay) if they'd been summoned before the flight took off?

Do we know "for certain"? No, we can never know counterfactuals for certain, since they did not in fact occur and aren't testable. But we can make certain reasonable guesses based on the evidence available, and similar situations where things went differently.

Having seen more than one unruly person get escorted off a plane before it took off, it seems pretty reasonable to me that the guy would have gotten the boot if someone had notified one of the flight attendants. It's pretty doubtful that they would have just let the whole thing slide, if he was in the wrong seat and being abusive, before the plane took off when there was an easy solution at hand (get him off the plane). The last thing they want is to keep someone onboard who is going to create a Real Problem after the plane takes off. Which is exactly what happened -- and once the plane took off, their options were a lot more limited.

Is it possible that they would have let him keep the seat and done nothing? I guess, in the sense that anything's possible where people's judgement is concerned, but it's not particularly likely.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:22 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I had gone to sit in the window seat and found someone who drawled "fuck you it's mine now", I don't think I would conclude "dangerous psychotic". I'd assume that he was hung over, in a bad mood, and really wanted to avoid interaction. The fact that he pulls his hoodie over his head and curls up against the wall would reinforce this.

I would also assume that the most likely result of calling a flight attendant was that they would come and ask him to move-- and he would. Most people, even assholes, are smart enough to avoid getting thrown out of airplanes, and know the difference between saying "fuck you" to a random guy and to a flight attendant. So then I'd get to spend the next six hours trapped between him and a bulkhead, wishing that I'd let him keep the stupid seat.
posted by alexei at 8:01 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Oh, I think I'd have a clue, if I was told: "fuck you its mine now". I don't think the clue gets any more clear without blinking lights and a siren.

Sure, in a Monday-morning-quarterback kind of way. But do you fly a lot? Because I only fly a moderate amount, and I've gotta say that getting stuck next to the surly drunk guy is about as frequent as any other Annoying Passenger Archetype (unprepared parent with high-strung child, smelly person, letch, shrill chatty kathy, etc.)

He DID summon the flight crew, multiple times, and they basically didn't do shit about the "obviously" dangerous passenger until the situation had already escalated quite a bit. So, given an already unsolvable problem, yeah, my sympathies shift a little bit to the people living it. I don't think the unstable weirdo is a peach, bu I'm a little moved by the dude being moved at finding himself using some compassion to deal with the unpleasant unstable human being next to him.
posted by desuetude at 10:13 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


This thread makes me ashamed of myself, which is a familiar feeling.

My first reaction, when reading Elwes' story, was "Why can't I be like that? I could never do that!" I am introverted and scared to even talk to friendly people in elevators. I could never confidently talk down a crazy person. "I think I can keep him talking for two hours?" Wow! After two minutes, I wouldn't know what to say.

Then I read VikingSword's rebuke, and I felt ashamed all over again: call a flight attendant? I doubt I'd have the presence of mind. I'd just shut down.

As different as they are, both Elwes' and VikingSword's reactions are about taking action, something that's always been impossible for me in times of stress.

At least once a year, I'm crossing the street and a car or bike comes hurtling towards me, looking as if it's not going to brake. Every time this has happend, though the smart thing to do would be to run to the other side, I have frozen like a deer in headlights. I would have died a long time ago, except that the drivers have always managed to brake in time, and the cyclists have always managed to swerve at the last minute.

(Sometimes, instead of freezing, I go into this loop, where I run back and fourth. I run three steps towards the other side of the street. Run back to where I was. Run forward again. Etc. This is even worse, because the driver or biker can't just think of me as a tree and swerve around me.)

I used to say to myself, "If I'm that much of a coward, how would I act if someone threatened a friend or loved one? Surely I would get a backbone and step in!" Then I found myself watching, frozen to the spot, as friend got assaulted in a bar. I still hate myself for it. Clearly, I'm not the guy you want next to you in a dark alley. I'm useless.

But it wasn't like I made a choice in that bar. It certainly didn't feel like I made a choice. It felt like I was involuntarily paralyzed.

It always feels that way. If feels like a demon takes control of my body -- a demon that says, "No! You are not equipped to handle danger. I am going to shut you down until the danger is over."

In some sort of perfectly Darwinian world, I'd be long dead.

And we all scorn people like me, right? Be a man! Take action! Stand up for your rights! Defend people! Show some backbone! Don't tell me it's not a choice! It is a choice!

Yeah. I know. That's how I feel, too. I suck.

In any case, I'm not siding with anyone in this debate, except to say that there are worse reactions than calling the flight attendants and sitting next to the guy, trying to calm him down.
posted by grumblebee at 9:57 AM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


TedW: "So what I'm saying is, let's start over.

Inconceivable!
"

I do not think that word means what you think it does.

Just sayin'
posted by Samizdata at 5:58 PM on August 31, 2012


The narrow, privileged logic of those who in this thread yet again assert their intolerance and unsympathy against the weak and injured—

It scares me.
posted by polymodus at 10:02 AM on September 3, 2012


Polymodus, do people like me and Coatlicue and the woman who was sexually assaulted on the plane fall into the "privileged logic" category or the "weak and injured" category for you? Because I object to being classified as either of those.
posted by milk white peacock at 4:32 PM on September 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Generally it is bad form to call out a thread on its behaviour without citing any specific incidences of said behaviour or even really clarifying what the behaviour is, polymodus.
posted by tehloki at 11:04 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Generally it is bad form to call out a thread on its behaviour without citing any specific incidences of said behaviour or even really clarifying what the behaviour is, polymodus.


1. Search for "intoler*" and "sympath*" in this thread and you'll see the kind of thinking that I'm referring to. I don't know those people and it's nothing personal against them. But I dislike that kind of thinking very much.

2. If you want clarification, then ask. Don't accuse me of not providing it: most people don't explain everything in their opinion, why should I? I assume people are generally able to think a little bit.
posted by polymodus at 11:40 PM on September 5, 2012


Polymodus, do people like me and Coatlicue and the woman who was sexually assaulted on the plane fall into the "privileged logic" category or the "weak and injured" category for you? Because I object to being classified as either of those.


So you object to criticism, that's your loss really.
posted by polymodus at 11:41 PM on September 5, 2012


polymodus: Polymodus, do people like me and Coatlicue and the woman who was sexually assaulted on the plane fall into the "privileged logic" category or the "weak and injured" category for you? Because I object to being classified as either of those.


So you object to criticism, that's your loss really.
Or to being lumped into groups and judged by them.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:45 AM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you want clarification, then ask.

I would like clarification; which comments were you referring to? Which do you think display narrow privileged logic? To whom are you referring when you mention the "weak and injured"?
posted by Greg Nog at 8:39 AM on September 6, 2012


I've enjoyed this thread. Moving, hilarious, infuriating, you name it.

I don't know if I would have acted appropriately in Mr Elwes' shoes, but I know (a world away in space and time) that calling the flight attendant immediately would have been the right move.
posted by danl at 10:37 AM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even a better way to deal with potentially unruly babies ...

Christina Diaz and Michael Rubinstein made gift packages for all of the passengers to apologize in advance if their twin boys cried on a cross country flight with this note:
'We're twin baby boys on our first flight and we're only 14 weeks old!

We'll try to be on our best behavior, but we'd like to apologize in advance just in case we lose our cool, get scared or our ears hurt.

Our mom and dad (AKA our portable milk machine and our diaper changer) have ear plugs available if you need them.'
posted by ericb at 11:37 AM on September 6, 2012


ericb: Even a better way to deal with potentially unruly babies ...
... which has nothing to do with this situation at all.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:37 PM on September 6, 2012


Duh!

Have another drink.
posted by ericb at 2:02 PM on September 6, 2012


So you object to criticism, that's your loss really.

Not even close. Could you answer the question please?
posted by milk white peacock at 3:27 PM on September 6, 2012


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