The Tuesday Rant: Trouble Afoot
"What's with people thinking that an airplane is their family room?"
The Travel section recently received a letter that began with the above question, one that proceeded to call out airline passengers thus:
"After takeoff recently, the disgusting person next to me removed his shoes and leaned his feet up on the bulkhead, forcing me to see and, um, smell his feet."
Given that air travel demands the shoving of hundreds of strangers into cramped metal boxes, it's surprising that we don't hear this complaint more often. But we hear it often enough, and more importantly, we experience it often enough. And stinky feet is just one of a growing class of problems that have arisen now that the line between public and private seems to have been permanently blurred.
I mean, I get that flying is supposed to be intolerable these days, but come on. We have to draw the line somewhere.
As reported in Sunday's Q&A column, etiquette experts like Letitia Baldrige have their own ideas for dealing with neighbors who reek. She told us:
I've always found that muttering something under my breath, while deeply engrossed in official papers being worked upon on my lap, is very effective in upending my seatmate, and he soon puts his feet down on the floor. I will say sarcastically, in a low, soft voice, "Great socks. Are they by Armani?"
That usually upsets and embarrasses them, because they had purchased them, of course, on sale at Wal-Mart.
It's unclear how successful Baldrige's strategy is at getting targeted offenders to put their shoes back on (although it works terrifically as a withering insult, which I guess is a decent consolation prize). But anyway, I'm guessing that the Travel Log's clever and creative readers have developed their own ways of dealing with problems like this. Have you or someone you love been forced to endure olfactory torture? What did you do about it?
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