California Blog – Entry 6

Airports taught me something on this trip, and it is that Hobbes was wrong – man is good.
Even as I was sitting uncomfortably before takeoff from Pheonix thinking, “If anyone is a terrorist on this plane, it’s the freaky guy next to me,” the flight attendant mimed in the aisle while the calm voice over the speakers reminded us to assist ourselves before assisting others if the cabin pressure should change. They remind the cabin of this before every flight. There are brochures with illustrations, telling us to remember that WE COME FIRST in case of an emergency. Obviously the airlines agree with me that putting ourselves before others in times of danger or disadvantage is not our natural human tendency.
Plus, you wouldn’t believe all the people I met through the ordeal. Maybe the two hour delay while we were all on board in Columbus, the lack of connections once we landed in Phoenix, the elusive phone we were supposed to use to call the hotel shuttle, missing luggage, and the non-negotiable early flights to our final destinations in the morning simply proved that people are more friendly when they are out of their element. But I think it’s more than that.
I know from the feeling it gives me that people like it when they’re friendly and helpful to one another. Yesterday, I gave up my window seat for a seat between two snoring old men so one man could sit next to his wife. Myself and a loud, giggly lady I met in one of the million lines we waited in yesterday gave up our seats on the hotel shuttle bus so a gay couple could leave and get their baby daughter to bed earlier. My rewards? One of the snoring old men was a pilot who was more than helpful when our plane was delayed and I had a thousand questions. Waiting longer for the shuttle meant I got to have a short but nice conversation with a cute, plaid-clad boy and his guitar. And I was proud of myself.
To people who believe that humans are selfish brutes, it’s all about motivation. There’s always the key factor that whatever a person is doing, it’s all about themselves in some way, even if the only benefit is feeling good about their actions. I say that feeling a little proud and happy when you put others before yourself only proves that man is good enough to know that it’s the right thing.

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