How to Behave on An Airplane

A lot of you are going to think this post is about my recent ordeal getting from San Francisco to Chicago, what with the shoeless, pants unbuttoned, seat sharing fellow I was destined to sit beside… But it isn’t.

There is one and only one rule for

How to Behave on An Airplane

Rule One: Don’t cry.

Outside of the standard common decency rules, like hey, maybe don’t fart in close proximity to a bunch of strangers, or maybe wash your hands regularly, or maybe don’t cough into the open air next to people who don’t want to share your germs, I think this is the most important rule. It’s one I fail at regularly. Keep me in mind as Exhibit A of What Not To Do.

So why all the airplane tears? Contrary to this article from 2013, my tears are not due to any of the listed suspected causes of airplane weeping. No, I have one thing to blame — Books.

tumblr_lnu8awxZVl1qm8pwoo1_500Look, it’s important for you to know that, while I may cry often, I’m not the type of person who is moved to tears by movies. I think the last movie I actually cried while watching was Life of Pi. I also don’t make a secret out of the fact that Lilo and Stitch makes me cry… When that little blue jerk drags that book out into the woods and says “I’m lost,” I start weeping big, disgusting tears. If that movie doesn’t make you cry, you are a bad person. It’s science. Trust me.

Moving on… The last three books I’ve read have made me cry.

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  1. Amy Poehler’s Yes Please
  2. Muriel Barbary’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and
  3. Caitlin Doughty’s Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, and Other Lessons from the Crematory

These books could not be any more different. One memoir by a very funny lady, a work of fiction and philosophy, and another memoir about working in a crematory. Aside from the memoir bit, I’m not sure what ties any of them together. But there you have it, the three books that made me weep openly in front of strangers.

I can’t give away key parts of the story, so I can’t tell you what made me cry. I can tell you that all three books are phenomenal and I recommend them to everyone. Amy Poehler is the life coach I never knew I needed. Barbery is a magnificent writer with a real grasp on what it’s like to try and hide your true self from the world (though I admit that it took me entirely too long to get invested in this book). And lastly, Dougthy’s memoir is a fascinating and funny look at the death industry, with equal measure facts and anecdotes.

But, Stephanie, what does this have to do with being an an airplane?

Well, pals, I’ll tell you. I read the most when I am stuck in one place, be it on a train or plane. It helps me sit still and invest my time in reading without thinking I have something else I need to be doing. When I finished all three of these books, I was on an airplane. These three books made me cry. On airplanes. Surrounded by strangers.

You can try and pretend like you aren’t crying… You can sniffle and cough and pretend like you just had something caught in your throat. If you, like me, are a window-seater, you can’t really ask to get up to go to the tiny closet restroom. That just draws more attention. But, you can look out the window and away from the person next to you, casually reaching up to dry your tears… But they know. They always know. No one ever asks if you’re okay because fuck you, this is America!, which is actually quite refreshing. But your seat neighbor will probably shy away from you, position themselves closer to the other passenger. You also can’t do anything about it, no matter how many times you say, stop it, stupid. Don’t cry! Not here! Not with these… strangers!, you can’t stop. Trying to stop crying just makes the crying easier. It’s math. Trust me.

So there you have it, friends.

Stop making everyone uncomfortable on airplanes.

Rule one: Don’t cry on airplanes.

Or… maybe don’t read books in airplanes? Watch cartoons. Those are way better…

Just not Lilo and Stitch.