I spend a lot of time flying, and it is very clear that airports and airplanes are in dire need of improved efficiencies by your Minister of Common Sense. Humans act absolutely atrociously in these environments, and I wrote a posting a few weeks describing The Rules of the Air – it's a must read for anyone who flies. But a new thing happened to me recently on a flight that shocked the shit out of me.
It's actually the second time that this has happened in my life. The first time, I thought it was a complete fluke and would never happen again... and then it did happen again. So now I know that it's not a once-in-a-lifetime event, and maybe it's something happening with frightening frequency. Perhaps it has happened to you. Perhaps you are the person doing it.
I was on a plane and had purchased some magazines to read on the flight. I put them in the pouch on the seatback in front of me. I was in the window seat in coach, and there was a guy in his 20s sitting in the middle seat next to me. I started reading a book that I had brought along, and I was saving the magazines for later in the flight. After about an hour into the flight, the guy in the middle seat suddenly leans across and picks one of my magazines out of the pouch in front of me and starts reading it!
I was shocked and incredulous. The magazine was Maxim and, in disbelief, I exclaimed, "Dude!" He said, "Oh, is this yours?" I said, "Uh, yeah!" I then went on to say that he could read it, which (unfortunately) is the only decent thing you can do after someone hijacks your magazine. He read it and then put it back (with his goddamn greasy fingerprints all over it).
So let me ask you - why the fuck did this person think they could take and read that magazine? There is no acceptable explanation for this. It's wrong on so many levels. Let's break it down... first of all, the magazines were not in a common area for anyone to take. This is not a doctor's office – it is an airplane and it's my pouch. That pouch is part of my territory and my area. Anything in it is mine... even if I don't own it or didn't put it there. You wouldn't crumple up trash and lean over and put it in the pouch of the person next to you, would you? So if you wouldn't feel right putting something IN someone's pouch, then why do you feel right taking something OUT of it? To further illustrate the personal space territory argument, the pouch is like 3 inches away from my knee. This guy's hand got dangerously close to me, and it's just unacceptable. I didn't get an "excuse me" or anything.
Even if you were of the mind that the pouch wasn't a person's private area, then what on earth makes you think that Continental suddenly started putting Maxim magazines on their planes?? It's not SkyMall, it's Maxim! And, you know what?... even if it WAS SkyMall, you STILL can't take it! If you had the shit-ass unfortunate luck of not getting a SkyMall in your pouch, that's your problem. You can't suddenly take mine, despite it being a free magazine. Now, you CAN take it from me if I hadn't gotten to my seat yet (similar to how you can take the one blanket that is in a row of seats, even if it's not on your seat, provided no one else is there yet – but you can't take the blanket off someone's lap, once they sit down and claim it).
If you know that SkyMall is a universe magazine that is supposed to be in everyone's pouch, and you don’t have one, and you want it, then you ASK to borrow it, don't you?? How do you not ask me for the magazine?? Instead, this guy leaned over and just took my Maxim without saying a word. I just don't know how to explain this. Let's assume that it's common knowledge that the airplane is stocked with free, random magazines - like a doctor's office. If you sat down and saw that the guy's pouch next to you had a Maxim, and you didn't, wouldn't you think to yourself, "Damn! That guy got all the best magazines, and I got shit!" Then you would wait a minute or two to see if they guy was going to read it. If he didn't, then you would ask him, "Excuse me, do you mind if I read this?" And you would hover your hand over the magazine of interest and wait for his response, right? Mind you, this is all assuming that the magazines are known to common property, which they aren't. But my point is that I didn't get any of that! The guy didn't act properly if he thought the magazine was owned by me AND he didn't act properly if he thought the magazine was common property. It wasn't like the guy was an asshole, either. He was a normal, seemingly nice guy, who clearly wasn't aware that what he was doing was wrong. Which I think is even worse than KNOWING it was wrong and doing it because of selfish reasons. This guy was just plain stupid and ignorant of the laws of common sense and society.
Like I said before, if it only happened once, then I would just have to assume that the guy was new to being a human being and it was just a freak occurrence. But, this is the SECOND time that someone has leaned over and taken my magazine out of my pouch without asking (and the other time it was a woman in her 40s, so there is no rhyme or reason to it). And I know it's happened to at least one other person, too. This act is inconsiderate, rude, stupid, an invasion of private space and STEALING. It breaks like six rules of common sense and human decency all in one fell swoop.
And while I'm on the topic - who are the people who knowingly get on a multi-hour flight and bring NOTHING to read with them (aside form an illiterate person and someone who is going to put on the headphones and obnoxiously laugh out loud while watching the movie)? Who puts themselves in that position? Who doesn't have the foresight and thinks to themselves, "Gee, I'm about to have to sit in the same seat for hours and hours... I think I'll just walk on empty handed." Do you know who does that?... a complete idiot who thinks he will read the magazines in other people's pouches.