Tuesday, February 3, 2009
The TBoGden Travel Diary - Part V
So, we've boarded the airplane for our flight home to San Diego when the first flight attendant approaches the young woman seated immediately behind us:
"Ma'am, you'll have to put your dog in a carrying cage."
I'm generally averse to eavesdropping on anyone else's conversation (Mrs. Bootleg would sue me on the grounds of "gimmick infringement"), but the engines hadn't fired up yet, so I couldn't help but hear. The young woman's response was simple and straightforward:
"He's a service dog."
OK. I think we've all seen service dogs. The first two images that came up in my Google search are here and here. When I think "service dog", I think of a pooch that's not too big, not too small, but leaning more to the "big" side of the spectrum. Can we agree on this? Good.
Now, here's a reasonable facsimile of the dog sitting behind us, under its owner's arm.
Service dog, my ass.
A few minutes later (we still haven't taken off yet) another flight attendant approaches the woman and asks her to put the dog in a carrying cage. Again, the passenger insists that she's holding a "service dog". In fact, the woman would be asked two more times by two different flight attendants to put the dog in a carrier. By the fourth time, she's getting a little irritated with the frequent requests to cage her canine.
This leads to quite the surreal scene as three of the flight attendants are gathered a few feet in front of me and embroiled in one of those intentionally-too-loud conversations about the young woman and her companion:
"That dog needs to be in a carrier. Did anyone see its service tag?"
In other words: service dog, my ass.
The flight back to San Diego was pretty painless, save for my son's last-second request to go to the bathroom before takeoff. We were actually still in the can when the plane began to pull back from the terminal. We had to get back to our seats so quickly, that I didn't have the opportunity to see Jalen freak out in response to the high-powered airplane toilet suction.
After we landed, Mrs. Bootleg, the boy and I were making our way to baggage claim when the young woman and her furry purse came up alongside us.
Now, I don't know if it was the fact that we'd just spent 90-some minutes on airplane (Those of you who fly regularly know that you have to raise your voice slightly in order to engage in simple conversation, right?) but, I responded to Mrs. Bootleg's comment on the dog's cuteness, thusly:
"Service dog, my ass."
In an instant, the young woman (I'd guess she couldn't have been more than 18-20 years old) wheels around and hisses, "Excuse me?!" in that stereotypical 90210 tone.
Was it any of my business?
Did the dog create any problems for me or my family on the flight?
See, though, here's the thing: She shouldn't have been so brazen about gaming the system. I couldn't care less if she wants to squeeze 12 items through the "10 items or less" express check-out lane. Maybe she likes to deceitfully park her car in one of those "expectant mom" spaces that's popped up in front of every mall in America. Whatever.
Since 9/11, however, everyone's been subjected to the same hassles of airline travel. And, when ONE person can skirt the airport rules by simply re-stating the same lie over and over…well, then the terrorists have won and their President gets elected.
So, how did I react to Paris Hilton's mini-hissy fit? I figured I had just two options: (1) Walk away and say nothing, dismissing her as an unworthy opponent for my quick wit and incredible intellect or (2)…
"I said, 'Service dog, my ass'."
In hindsight, I should be grateful that she was the one who just rolled her eyes and walked away. I turned to Mrs. Bootleg who was…ummm, what's 100x more than "mortified"? And, without missing a beat, I explained to my wife:
"Hey, she challenged me in front of my family. What was I supposed to do?"
A few hours later, after we got home, I tried to make a crack about the incident, but Mrs. Bootleg shot me the look. I mean, the look, which silently translates to "never, ever bring this up again".
Gee, I hope I don't accidentally send her the link to this post.