Making Up for Ugliness

Airports and airplanes are interesting.

No. They are fascinating.

Even in Little Israel, you see every kind of person imaginable. And the bigger the airport, the more you will need your imagination to understand what you are seeing. (I have no idea how some of these people get through security.)

It’s almost as if the process of traveling makes people more ourselves – ourselves, on steroids. Quiet people get VERY quiet. Loud people get VERY loud. Friendly people get VERY friendly (um… TOO friendly). Whatever we are at home is amplified when we travel. Some of us are afraid, and we compensate for our fear by public display. We complain. We moan. We talk loudly.

Some of us are away from home for the first time and feel liberated – free to ‘let it all hang out’. We complain. We moan. We talk loudly.

It starts at the airport. While standing in line for passport control. One young, brash American was loudly announcing his displeasure at the slowness of the line – to an unappreciative (but quiet) multinational audience. I’m afraid that I was more annoyed by this behavior than I normally would have been, and (since I was traveling) my mouth was larger than it normally is.

Of course, I pick on the American kid, but he could have been of any nationality. French, English, German – you name it, and you’ll see them with their fair share of uglies.

I once had an argument with a British friend over who were the worst tourists. He still claims that the Brits are the ugliest.

The bottom line is that we all are mortified when our countrymen act inappropriately abroad.

Of course, for someone who straddles two countries and cultures I am often mortified twice.

I had noticed some of the stewardesses on our flight being a little extra grim. A little more serious than normal. I leaned over to one especially grim member of the cabin crew and wondered aloud at how much she must enjoy looking after ‘us kids’. She laughed and said that Israelis aren’t the worst, but that they can be a real challenge.

(sigh)

She’s right. One of the things that I love about Israel and Israelis is the openness, the brashness and the colorfulness of society. Yes my neighbor screams at the top of her lungs every morning at 6:30. Yes, they make you miss your bus while they tell you how much they like your CD collection.

However, a friend owes her life to a couple brash young Israelis who found her semi-conscious in a hut in Kenya. And, I can’t count the number of times that Israelis have gone out of their way to help me, a stranger.

Of course, for my poor stewardess friend, brashness, colorfulness and openness in a transatlantic flight can be… a challenge.

Remember this, the next time you fly. Show appreciation for the rather tough job that stewardesses and stewards have. It’ll make up for any ugliness in your compatriots.