Disclaimer: Aviation takes a backseat in this post so, if opinionated pieces aren’t your cup of tea, I’d check out a different post!
I’ve always loved politics. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been very opinionated. Even as a young child, I had very strong opinions that would often land me in trouble. Whether it was my Libertarian phase from 2008 to 2013 or my obsession with Bernie Sanders today, I’ve always loved politics.
I used to try and bring up politics whenever I had the chance. I’d even talk politics back in the fourth grade even though the kids I was talking with didn’t even know what I meant when I used the term “party”. Fast-forward to June 2016. I now know that there are two things you should never bring up at the dinner table; politics and religion. So, the only time I talk politics is with close friends.
Never would I have ever imagined that I’d talk for two whole hours on a 737 packed to the gills about these two forbidden topics. Here’s what happened.
Los Angeles to St. Louis
After a long day of flying, a day that began on the opposite coast, I was ready to get home and sleep. My flight back home left the gate around 6 PM. I’d arrive around midnight. The flight wasn’t a red-eye but close enough. My one and only goals for this flight home were to watch a movie and enjoy a nice dinner. Both goals were on their way to completion until someone next to me muttered three words.
I’ll admit, there have been times where I’ve wanted to talk current events with a like-minded passenger or call out a bitter cynical older gentleman yelling about the Secretary of State. However, if you bring up politics (or even most current events), you’re kind of just asking for trouble. With the absolute chaotic presidential campaign and daily massacres throughout the world, why would anyone ever bring up such sensitive issues? Well, Mr. 5B thought that the young man traveling beside him was the best candidate for an impromptu episode of Fox and Friends.
I’m not the best of getting out of awkward airplane chit chat and that’s mostly because I’m never the one who ends up in those grueling and idiotic small talk situations. However, my 17 years of never having to make forced airplane small talk came to an end on my way home from a long day of non-stop flying from the east to the west coast.
“Are you European”
Those three words started it all. What I imagined would result in three minutes of genealogy turned into a two hour Sunday morning talk show. I think I made the mistake of saying that I go to a Jesuit high school. Once I revealed that I go to a private (religiously affiliated) high school, I opened up an entire can of worms. Mr. 5B somehow managed to go from “Where do you go to high school” and “What do you plan in majoring in” to “The Catholic Church is such a fantastic institution” and “Our commander-in-chief probably doesn’t love America”.
Alrighty then. Once Mr. 5B began to talk about the history of the Catholic Church, any hope of escaping this awkward conversation was completely gone. I realized that I’d have to bite the bullet and hell, maybe I’d learn a thing or two.
An hour later, we had completed Part I: The Catholic Church and somehow, made our way to Part II: Current Events in the Middle East. I just want to make it clear that I bottled up my actual views and opinions as I didn’t want to look like I was the one to talk politics on a late night flight full of people. Once I realized that this conversation was heading into uncharted waters, I further lowered my voice just in case we got to something unbelievably sensitive. And we did. First, Mr. 5B went over how Ronald Reagan was the best thing to happen to the Middle East and how the only ones to blame are the people who thought they could make democracy work over there. I just shook my head and bit my lip. After Mr. 5B outlined his plan to solve the Syrian Civil War and ISIS, we made our way to domestic politics–my specialty.
Even though we got into hard-hitting issues like marriage equality, abortion, income inequality, and campaigns, I still knew that I had to keep to myself and not argue. As much as I wanted to talk politics, I knew I couldn’t and it was best just to listen and try my best to get this conversation to a point where it would end. I tried to mention Bernie Sanders as much as I possibly could hoping that my support of the Democratic-Socialist would anger Mr. 5B so much that he’d relocate to the Main Cabin. It didn’t work.
The only thing that saved me was the fact that once you land, you have to leave the aircraft. After two plus hours of listening to Mr. 5B regurgitate Bill O’Rilley and Donald Drumpf—it was over. Unfortunately, my lips didn’t fair so well. I tried so hard to keep quiet I drew blood them.
This leads me to the main point of this rant; can you talk politics and religion on a plane packed full of other passengers? Obviously, my answer is no. Just flat out no. Don’t do it. Don’t even attempt it. I spent two hours having to keep as quiet as possible as my seat mate attempted to discuss terrorism and abortion on a plane full of people.
I guess in retrospect, I’m more appalled that anyone would go that in-depth into such sensitive topics. I mean, I get talking about current events and culture but Mr. 5B outlined–in detail–his political, moral, and religious views.
Let this (hopefully comical) post serve as a lesson. Don’t be like Mr. 5B and talk politics and religion on a plane full of people—especially when it’s a red-eye.