The Southwest Manifesto



Sure, I should have checked in earlier. If I had, I’d be one of the A Groupers – the ones who get to board first – the chosen ones. They’re the ones who wait until 24 hours minus one second prior to departure, then jump online to check in for the flight. Well, EXCUSE ME for sleeping in; I was flying to Norfolk for my Master Chief’s retirement, and I needed my beauty sleep. By the time I printed out the boarding pass I had been relegated to the B Group.

As I neared the gate, there they were, holding their precious A tickets. They were the bourgeoisie, looking down their noses at the rest of us. “Saps,” they seemed to be thinking as they avoided eye contact. Their seats and their place in life were secure. They thought they were so special.

We watched them from the B section. We, the proletariat, the middle class rank-and-file, weren’t “fast enough” to register our names in time to join the priviledged blue-bloods to our left.

From time to time, we glanced to our right – the pitiful C Group. They were the poor, the tired, the “I forgot to check in” crowd. As frustrating as our lot in life was, theirs was worse. They were doomed to almost certain middle-seat fate. We avoided eye contact.

Then they invited the A tickets to board. They skipped to the gate with nary a care in the world, leaving us behind…alone to wallow in self-loathing. “This is not right,” I thought jealously. Everyone should have an equal chance. Power to the B-ple!

Once they let us board, I searched for – and found – the couple who had been at the front of the A line. They were sitting happily together, oblivious to the empty seat beside them. Now the playing field was level. Now I would make them pay for their arrogance.

I would sit beside them.

When I got to their row, I sprung with the quickness of a cougar. In order to torture them with my new-found equality, I struck up a conversation, and found – to my surprise – that we were from the same town, and that the guy’s father was a military veteran. They asked a lot of questions about my Navy career, and hoped that the Master Chief’s ceremony went well. They were patriotic. They admired the military. They…were pretty doggone nice.

So I guess that goes to show you – no matter your lot in life, once you peel back the onion skin we’re all pretty much the same. Some have a few extra perks, some a few less. But when it’s all said and done, we all reach the final destination at about the same time, regardless of where we sit.

So thanks, Southwest, for teaching me a little bit about human nature. Next time, I’ll be a little nicer. Next time, I’ll be a little more patient.

And next time, I’ll check in at 24 hours minus one second.

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