Love at First Sight, Friendly Flying, Feb 05 | Common Courtesy on Airplanes

Dear Meg,
I was at a book signing a few weeks ago and talked briefly with this very stunning woman. I never believed in such things before but when I saw her I felt as if it was love at first sight. Should I contact her? Do you believe in such things? I thought I’d given up on this stuff.


My Dear Alberta,
I certainly believe in love at first bite, which can be a bit painful and require a few stitches, not to mention an outlandish hospital bill, so I suppose love at first sight is a distinct possibility.

An old friend of mine who met the woman of his dreams a few years back while facilitating a writing workshop for Gulf War Veterans told me when he first heard her he felt like he had been struck upside the head, as if by a frying pan. Both were in their mid 40s at the time and now seem to living happily ever after, so maybe good things do come to people who wait.

Yes, go ahead and contact this “stunning” woman. What have you got to lose? Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and it is as good a time as any to tempt the wheels of fate, be they finicky, fickle, or perhaps absolutely fabulous. As long as you understand that even the best of people can let you down in small and sometimes extremely major ways (yikes, sometimes they even die!), you are set to handle whatever response you receive.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you, Alberta. I pretend to be a cynical girl but the truth is I’m one of the last of the true romantics. If this woman says yes to you, bring her flowers and candy, and be sure not to just talk at her. Good manners require that you be a good and responsive listener. Happy “V” day, and good luck.

Love, Meg

Dear Meg,
My job requires that I travel frequently. Lately I’ve noticed a real decline in common courtesy and what I would call basic decency of my fellow journeyman, most notably on airplanes. Do you have any advice on how I can deal with overly snarly and incredibly selfish people when I fly? I’d really appreciate your help
— Carlos

My Dear Carlos,
Wow, is this ever a hot topic. All of us who fly the once friendlier skies are beginning to fray around the edges. I wish I could say I were an exception, but this would be untrue. The important thing to remember is that we are all, for the most part, in the same boat. (Okay, it is a boat that is often cruising at an altitude of about 30,000 feet). I’ll share an experience I had a few weeks ago with you, Carlos, in hopes that it is of some help.

I was flying home from visiting my mother in California and found myself stuck in one of those cattle-car seats that afford one about 1.3 cm of leg room. Usually, I get to the airport early and request emergency row seating, as they have extra stretch room. I’m a tall woman and tend to be Johnny-on-the-Spot in a crisis, so I’m good as an emergency aisle seatee. Anyway, I did not arrive at the airport in time to secure my desired crises-are-us arrangements and was wedged in with the rest of my fellow sufferers.

As soon as the captain announced it was okay to unfasten our seatbelts, the guy seated directly ahead of me immediately reclined his “chair.” Actually, he did not recline it, he jettisoned it. I wanted to scream at him or kick the back of the seat that was now in my lap. Instead I counted to ten and took a couple of deep breaths. I realized that there was a good chance he did not know that modern rules of travel ettiquette suggest when one is flying coach, it is considered good form to ask the person seated behind you whether or not they would be inconvenienced if you choose to let your seat back for the remainder of the flight.

After collecting myself, I choose to just deal with the inevitable discomfort of the situation and be grateful that I was able to travel at all. This is to say that my best advice is to be a good example. Making yourself aware of what the most courteous and respectful behaviour is and doing it almost always pays off in the long run.
Love, Meg