Ten Minutes of Being an American Asshole
Wednesday, July 8th.
My limited international travel experience had made me unknown about the processes of Ryanair, apparently the premier travel business for cheap flying across Europe. I was stoked for my flight from Paris to Lisbon, Portugal, but also, as I would find when I arrived at the airport, underprepared.
Like my hostel in Paris had mentioned, I had left for the airport four hours before my departure. After a trip on the metro and an hour long coach bus ride to the airport, I found myself at check in at the Paris-Beauvais airport. I had printed my boarding pass but I had neglected to register my large travel backpack. I was hoping I could forgo checking the bag and just bring it on the flight, but I was wrong. The bag wasn’t even close to meeting their size regulations.
“It’s impossible, you must check the bag,” a worker at the airport tells me in broken English, clearly french is her first language. I look at the line to check my bag — it’s long. Then, I check my watch- 45 minutes until, according to my boarding pass, my flight’s gate closes. This should be interesting! I had one experience missing a flight in the US, and let’s just say, I didn’t want to replicate that experience again.
Reluctantly I wait in line and check the bag — oh, a casual 50 euro to check it. Cool way to start the morning as I wince and hand over my Visa card. Crunched for time, a half hour until the gate closes, I’m thinking the icing on the cake is when I miss my flight and my bag arrives in Lisbon and I don’t. Apparently the next flight for Lisbon leaves in one day and, oh yeah, if you decide to forfeit the flight, it’s 100 euro. I begin to realize where Ryanair is making a lot of their money — on things besides the actual flight!
There’s a monitor at security which tells you how long you are from the gates. So when I start waiting in line I see that it is 24 minutes to get to the gates, while my gate closes in 20 minutes. This should be fun right? A night waiting in the Paris-Beauvais airport doesn’t sound very enjoyable though, so naturally I’m freaking out.
And then it kicks in, that entitled Americanism. No, bitches, I will not miss this flight.
Over the last three weeks of my trip, I’ve gained so much perspective about what it means to be American, for better or worse. People generally think we’re assholes, and for good reason: we have an unrivaled sense of entitlement that many Americans choose to exhibit in other countries. Maybe it’s warranted to a certain extent. In Amsterdam, all the music I heard was American (I heard Lean On by Major Lazer more than I ever heard it in America, shoutout to my friends from Westport who love this song). Everyone reads and watches American books and movies. Europeans talk about Air BNB which of course was borne out of Silicon Valley. An Australian told me yesterday that the worlds currency and exchange rates are based off the American dollar. I told her that she was stroking my already massive ego.
And talk about entitlement! Excuse me, but yes I saved more than enough money from working only two years in New York to bounce around your continent for 10 weeks! Yes, I have the chutzpah to book a one way ticket to Europe and use your rail system to get everywhere. And yes, I grew up speaking the universal language — English — so you’ll have to communicate with me in English, when you might only know bits and pieces of the language and you grew up speaking only French, Spanish, Italian or whatever.
With all of that said, I’ve been making a concerted effort to downplay these preconceived stereotypes. I use my conversational abilities to ensure that people don’t see that assholeishness in me. I want to help change these stereotypes! I want to carve a new perception for Americans! We’re not all that outwardly pompous!
But on the precipice of missing this flight, I ruthlessly throw those initiatives to the wind. The only way I’m going to make the flight is to blow out my Americanism with zero shame. Ryanair took my money (and they might take more), so it’s time get full throttle USA at the European airport.
The line for security is a long, winding six rows of people. And it’s moving slow, too slow for my New York City state of mind. Us New Yorkers, we’re not good at waiting. So its time for me to make my own time, and I start to get aggressive. In front of me, there is a well-to-do business man talking in French on his cellphone, and he gives me a dirty look because he knows what I’m about to do. And without an element of surprise, I do it, moving past him in line. Sorry buddy! I mentioned I’m from New York City right? I cut people like you for breakfast!
The next victims are almost too easy, and I’m able to bypass a couple groups because of them. It’s a French couple just fondling themselves in line, like OMG get a room you need to have sex RIGHT NOW. They’re in love, I mean it’s cute, but again, it’s no time for a cutsie little thing. I am on mission. So BON VOYAGE, bithches, this dude is out of here. The girl gives me a look, but, again, I don’t care.
I make a couple more moves past groups of people fairly subtly. At this point I’d say I’ve shaved off about five minutes of waiting which I still don’t think is enough. At the end of one of the rows there is no separation between the lines — basically someone could easily cut about a third of the line by stepping out of and back into line.
Did I mention I’m from the tristate area and I have no time for anyone? So, like any Brooklynanite commuting to Manhattan, I shamelessly and seamlessly make the move. Too easy right there! With one long stride I’ve made up about ten minutes and cut about 100 people in line. For a second I bend over so I’m not sticking out in this massive cue of people, trying to hide from people that may have seen me do this. Then I realize, I honestly don’t care. What’s gonna happen? Someone complains to me or an airport attendant? Listen, Ryanair took my money and I have a flight to catch. If all goes to plan, you’ll never see me again after the next 10 minutes. Sorry I’m not sorry!
I finally reach security where there’s a mom helping her kids get through. Yeah, YA know YA snooze YA lose motherfuckers as I throw my items in a bin, go through the metal detector and bolt towards the gate.
I am the fourth to last person to board for Lisbon, but I am fucking ecstatic. I turn to the guy behind me, an older, shorter guy, as I want to share my elation with him at making the flight, and tell him “yo, I really didn’t think I was gonna make it on this flight.” He smiles blankly, clearly not comprehending any English….typical.
I am convinced I would have not made the flight had I not cut everyone in line. However, I will tell you I wrote this post on my iPhone from my flight to Lisbon ;-). Aggressive American over, now back to friendly American…