Like you have been there before


You have seen it before. A long, tight spiral hauled in by a speeding wide receiver. He streaks down the sideline past the outstretched hands of the defender and crosses the goal line.

Then he goes into an imbecilic dance routine, pounds on his chest, and spikes the ball while reveling in the adoration of thousands of fans.

Come on, man.

When you score a touchdown, act like you have been there before. Toss the ball to the referee and trot to the sideline.

It is the same way when you fly.

The other day, for the first time in my life, I was upgraded to First Class seating. I was sure it was a mistake. I asked the flight attendant to verify that, in fact, I was assigned one of those luxury chairs with fluffy padding and lots of legroom.

I was.

When I got to my seat I didn’t know how to act. I nodded hello to everyone who passed by. First Class people do not do that. They are supposed to ignore the huddled masses of coach. There should be no eye contact, and if there is, you are supposed to look at them with a “let them eat cake” disdain. Instead, I smiled.

I started playing with the knobs on the chair. When the flight attendant handed me HEATED nuts I knew I was in a special place. So I did what anyone would do in that situation.

I called Stephan Pastis of “Pearls Before Swine.” Stephan is the kind of guy who, given the chance, will rub your face in whatever he has done better than you. So this was an opportunity. I called and said, “I’m on a plane, sitting in First Class and you’re not.” He mumbled something like, “Oh, you are?” I could feel his envy crawling through the phone lines.

I clearly didn’t belong there.

The guy next to me, he belonged. He ignored me with a well-practiced air of someone who doesn’t mingle with the little people – and I was obviously a little people.

He ordered hard liquor and flirted with the flight attendant. When she told him that they were almost out of one of the entrees, he complained. With a roll of the eyes he settled for what was left. He needed to show that First Class passengers must have choices from which to choose. Anything less would be … uncivilized.

He read one of those “How to make a million bucks” books, ignoring the free movie (I didn’t). He kicked off his shoes to show off his expensive socks (I didn’t).

He ordered more drinks. He flirted some more with the harried flight attendant.

By the end of the flight she was completely ignoring me, and paying full attention to the high maintenance businessman next to me.

When you fly First Class, you have to act like you have been there before. Ask for stuff. Whine a little. Ignore the guy sitting next to you. It is expected.

To be honest, I missed the chaos of coach. There is more going on back there. Babies crying. People laughing and talking. Real people.

So when we landed I did my part to give it back to The Man. I took my time packing up, delaying long enough for some of the economy passengers to go ahead of us – trapping the businessman in his seat in the process. He was annoyed, obviously in a hurry, but helpless to do anything about it. “The little people have no right to de-plane in front of me,” his brain was screaming. “I AM A FIRST CLASS PASSENGER!”

But there was no flight attendant to complain to, no call button to push, and he was too timid to confront me directly.

Then, when enough people had walked by, I strolled out, ignoring him.

Like I had been there before.


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