The airport is packed. The lines are moving slowly. One. Person. At. A. Time. We’ve all been there. You know, when holiday travel packs the airport tighter than a Los Angeles prison and everyone moves at a sloth’s pace to their respective gates only to have their flights cancelled on them due to weather? Well, I’m sitting here in Terminal 3 at LAX waiting to hop on board my Spirit Airlines flight to Detroit, being asked to be put on the waiting list for the next flight out TOMORROW…for James…the businessman.
Meet James, the big time Wall Street hotshot. James wants to get home, but due to a flight cancellation with American Airlines, he’s stranded here in LAX and Spirit flight 709 with a connection to JFK through Detroit is his only chance to get back to the Big Apple today.
Here’s how I met James. After passing through security, and trudging down the long pathway that leads to Gate 32B in Terminal 3 at LAX, I put my bags down, opened my laptop and began to think about possible Ideas for a blog post to write. I was interrupted by a man in a suit standing over me.
“Excuse me,” He said ever so politely.
“Hi, can I help you?” I asked, confused.
“Yes, My names is James, The Airline said that they would like to place you on standby for the next flight to Detroit.”
“Do you work for the airline?” I asked skeptically.
“No, I’m a business traveller. I work for Morgan Stanley and would appreciate making a connection in Detroit to get back to New York so I can get home. The people at the front desk said they will replace my spot with yours… with your permission of course.”
WOAH. Such confrontation was baffling to me. Not only does his reasoning show zero urgency, have zero connection to his work, and not concern me at all, but also he pointed ME out to take off the flight because he assumed that I, as a college student, have less urgency for travel than he does. I was essentially just told that my reason for flying into Detroit was not as important as this man’s reason. Why was this man trying to push me from my flight?
Thomas Hobbes, writing in Leviathan, believed the state of nature was “nasty, poor and brutish”. Selfish is the word I’m poking at. I’m sitting here, jaw dropped, wondering how this man could dare ask an 18 year-old college student to step aside because he believed that his travel back home was more important than my travel, and ultimately the advancement of my education. Hobbes claims that man fights for scarce resources. Obviously, this was happening in a non-violent capacity…to me.
Hobbes also argues that all humans are, by nature, equal in faculties of body and mind. So what exactly makes James better than I, and therefore more eligible and deserving to fly? NOTHING, according to Hobbes. According to Hobbes, everyone is naturally willing to fight one another so that “during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called warre; and such a warre as is of every man against every man”. If it weren’t for my knowledge of Hobbes’ philosophical thinking, I probably would have just given up my seat, accepted defeat, and missed class tomorrow. But no. I am a strong independent man and I fought back.
“Well,” I said with a grin on my face, staring deep into James’s soul, “I just can’t do that. See I have to get back to school and the only way to do that on time so I can attend class tomorrow is if I go home on this flight. You know, the one I booked according to my schedule and have every intention of boarding?”
James turned, the sly look on his face wiped clean. “You’re kidding me. I work 50 times harder than you do,” he exclaimed angrily.
I just returned my focus to my laptop and began typing as he begrudgingly walked away.
Defeated, James walked around the terminal, pulling his same sly move on basically everyone. No one budged. As I watched James pick up his briefcase and leave the terminal, a sense of victory empowered me. If James were going home for a different reason, one better than, “I am a prominent businessman,” I probably would’ve given up my seat in a heartbeat. I’m a nice guy like that. But when you try to show me up and prove yourself better than I am, you aren’t going to get my seat. Good day to you James.