I met a first timer on a flight today. Rare to see people taking a flight for the first time. He had boarded just behind me and showed up at his seat to find someone else putting their baggage in the overhead compartment. He checked his seat number, looked at the way more experienced man who had sneaked something to the tune of five carry-ons of all shapes and sizes. The man was stuffing them in the baggage bin above seat 30.
"This is for seat 30" blurted the poor newbie.
With an exasperated look of someone who has been through this before he said - "It does not work like that, you put your luggage where you find space".
Newbie was taken aback but he must have had a talk in the mirror earlier in the day. One of those talks to pump yourself about an upcoming event- where you decide you will not be taken advantage of; you will not be a newbie.
"But it says seat 30 here" He pointed to the number below the bin.
"But it does not work that way, you find a spot and you take it" repeated the bin grabber taking off his huge jacket and shoving that into the bin too before walking away.
I saw newbie looking lost, and then he found a spot for his carefully measured and weighed airline recommended hand luggage. I saw a look of fear as he thought someone else was sitting in his seat. I saw the look of relief as the confusion was sorted and he sat into the exact seat printed on his ticket. As he had his back toward me I could no longer see his face but I could imagine him taking mental notes. He'd be further ahead in the boarding line, he'd never relinquish his bin again ever, and maybe he'd even bring in some more carry-ons. I am sure flying was not as dignified and civilized as he had imagined.
Sadly this was a long long 15 hour flight. I saw his face again as we were leaving the plane. Yes, flying was not as dignified and civilized as he had imagined.