Traveling back to Binghamton after a long and luxurious visit with family in Los Angeles, I felt right at home at LAX when I ran into 2 well-known actors and my first lobbying client (sorry, mom, it was a slot machine manufacturer), all in the security line.
But the best run-in lay ahead of me, on the airplane, where I ran into someone else I knew. I would never have noticed him except for the following scene that played out in the two rows immediately behind us. Try to follow along:
In the row immediately behind us sit 3 people: a middle-aged man behind John (we'll call him "Seat Recliner"), an 8 year old girl, and then a 4 year old boy behind me (who kicked my seat the whole flight and who I had to have a chat with, despite the fact that his mother was sitting right there and seeing the whole thing). In the row behind those 3 was a middle aged couple (the man ("Angry Dad") and woman ("Enabler") sitting down, wearing glasses in the photo) and their 6'4" son ("Gigantor") sitting on the aisle, himself sitting behind the middle aged guy behind John.
So right before we are getting ready to land, we hear some loud, raised voices getting into an argument just behind us. Apparently, Seat Recliner had invaded Gigantor's meager leg room one too many times on the flight, and Angry Dad intervened on behalf of his son and laid into Seat Recliner. Despite the eyeglasses, Angry Dad was a bit of a football-jock-meathead-type, and he got pretty loud, although not overly rude. He said something to the effect of "My son is 14 years old and 6'4". You are an adult. Just because you have the ability to put your seat back, doesn't mean you should."
Then Seat Recliner started going off about being a bad role model for his kids and a bad dad or something, and Angry Dad started getting really mad, at which point his Enabler wife, who clearly has to endure this behavior frequently, started shushing him ("Stop it. Stop it. Stop it.") and trying to defuse the situation.
There was a lull in the arguing, and, just when you thought it was over, each participant had to get in his parting jab. Loudly, but under his breath, one said "Asshole," to which the other replied, "Douchebag." Priceless.
So when we landed a few minutes later, I was eager for the chance to get a good look at our brawling backseat neighbors. As though the blogger gods had sent me a belated Christmas gift, I realized that I knew the "douchebag"- he was none other than a California Assemblyman-turned-Congressman named Adam Schiff. I hadn't seen him since my lobbying days in Sacramento, but it was definitely him.
My guess was confirmed when I realized that it was an L.A.-to-D.C. flight, and that it would explain the super-snotty and inattentive mother sitting across the aisle and letting her 4-year-old kick the crap out of the back of my seat for 4 hours and 15 minutes. (As a bit of icing on the cake, Adam's wife is named Eve - she was every bit the stuffy Congressman's wife.)
As a side note, our dear Eve almost got into a fight, herself, when we landed and a guy opened the overhead bin and a small bag fell on her. She was not so much injured as offended that someone would allow an errant object to touch her. She got all pissy at the guy, who was a very nice, gigantic, muscly, black guy with big diamond earrings, by the way. When she said something about how he should be more careful, he was way too classy to say anything even in his own defense.
His don't-talk-shit-to-my-man-or-I'll-kick-your-ass fiancee (we'll call her "Feyonce' ") however, was quick to insert herself, and said to Eve "It's not like he did it on purpose!" It stopped there but I'm pretty sure that, had we not been on an airplane governed by serious federal transportation rules, Feyonce' would have taken Adam's Eve out to the Garden and given her a little streetwise lesson about sin . . .
OK, back to Congressman Seat Recliner. A couple of thoughts: First, Congressman Schiff is apparently big in foreign affairs, which made me wonder if he shares his special brand of Douchebag Diplomacy with foreign officials around the world. One can only imagine the "ugly American" that he might be when traveling abroad. Ugh.
Second, the thing that Angry Dad said really struck a chord with something I have recently been thinking about politicians and their ethical and moral compasses. In my observation, there are 2 kinds of politicians: the ones who do everything they can that is technically not illegal, and then the ones who are just plain corrupt.
The corrupt ones are the ones you read about (a small percentage of all politicians), and the envelope-pushers are all the rest. These (the envelope-pushers) are the guys who milk every perk, every benefit of holding public office, either because they think they deserve it or just because they can get it away with it . . . technically. Just because he was technically within the rules to keep pushing his seat back, Congressman Seat Recliner should really have been more thoughtful and realized that the kid behind him was unusually tall and also young and pretty helpless to defend his knees and, more importantly, his personal dignity. Best to have a simple chat with him before putting the seat back or, better yet, not recline at all (it was only a 4 hour flight, and not a late night one).
That was a long blog, but the moral of the story for this entry is that you can rest assured that our elected officials are spreading their own special brand of Douchebag Diplomacy all over the world, one nearly-physical altercation at a time.