Lost Among Europeans

Manners

When I travel home to Madrid, I always dread that first intense exposure to Spaniards, in the airport lounge. I feel ashamed, I wonder why they (we) are so loud, have such a flock mentality, find it so difficult to wait in line. Oh, those boring conversations about media personalities, those old jokes; everybody rehashing the same opinions, dispensing advice to people that didn’t ask for it.

Why can’t we be more reserved, more independent, more perceptive?

This travel season, though, my experience was different. Except for an annoying Spanish-American family, the Spaniards were fine.

In my flight from Newark to Seattle, I was sitting between American teenagers. They both came equipped with their iPhones. The girl, probably 16-17, on my left, was reading Twilight. The boy, on my right, was on his best efforts to appear cool. Everything was fine until we were ready for takeoff, and the attendants asked passengers to turn all electronic devices off. The teens could not let go. The boy turned off his iPhone, but started listening to his iPod. I reminded him that that, too, was forbidden, and he put on his American teen persona: “Oh, huh, really?, huh, oh, yeah”. The girl just would not turn off her iPhone. When we had been over 5 minutes waiting for takeoff, she started calling and texting. First, a flight attendant asked her to turn the phone off. She did, but when the attendant left, she started playing with it, and before long, texting. I then told her that the phone was supposed to be off. She said: “Yeah, I know, but I’m not worried”. After a few seconds, she turned it off, seemingly for good.

Towards the end of the flight, due to problems in SeaTac, the plane needed to refuel, and we landed in Spokane. Information came little by little on the conditions in Seattle, and on how long we would be staying in Spokane. The teens both called and texted several people to inform them of the new circumstances. Again, when we were about to take off, the girl had to be asked four times over ten minutes - thrice by a flight attendant, once by me - to turn her iPhone off. She reacted defiantly, complaining loudly that she was just texting her dad to let him know we were leaving.

I know teenage is not an easy age, but there you go: iPhone girl, you are the rudest and most annoying person I have encountered when flying. I’m glad you are not a Spaniard.

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