Your Rules Don’t Apply To Me

On my flight back from DFW (Dallas) yesterday I was reminded of one of my all time pet-peeves… “your rules don’t apply to me”. Now, this mantra of the uber-entitled can apply to a variety of different situations ranging from Federal Laws to plain old common courtesy. You’ve seen it. People who pay no attention to the rules, guidelines, or anything else because apparently they are special and above such laws. The person who parks up close to the building at the end of a row where there is no parking space lines just because he refuses to walk a few extra steps like the common folk. The person who ignores the “no left turn” sign and holds up traffic to force their way across to turn left. Rules just don’t apply to them. They are special.

Yesterday, it was all I could do to bite my tongue and not speak out on my flight from DFW to ATL. When the flight attendant announced the boarding door was closed and all electronic devices needed to placed to the “off” position, I dutifully powered off my iPhone 4 and my iPad, as did most of those around me. However, we had several among us who felt “your rules don’t apply to me.” A man two rows up continued to talk on his cell phone, referencing materials from his wife and relaying the information to the person on the other end of the line. A few rows up another individual was still texting away on their phone. And right next to me, a man was reading his Kindle, ignoring the plea of the flight attendant. The flight attendant made two more announcements admonishing the passengers we would not push back from the gate until everyone complied with the request and placed their electronic devices in the “off position”, anything with a power button at all. The man eventually completed his call and closed his phone (without powering it off), and the Kindle reader huffed and shoved his Kindle into the seat back pocket (without powering it off), and we finally pushed back.

Now I realize articles have shown an electronic device left powered on will likely not interfere with an airplane in any way. But that isn’t really the point. Federal law states passengers must comply with all of the instructions given by the flight attendants. The issue isn’t whether the cell phone or Kindle has an affect on the aircraft. The issue is the flight attendants gave a direct instruction that was being blatantly ignored. “Your rules don’t apply to me.” Passengers don’t have the right to decide for themselves which instructions are valid and which are not. They are also not free to ignore an instruction because “cell phones won’t do any harm.”

It is symptomatic of a culture of entitlement and it manifests itself in subtle ways. Never is it more crystal clear than in the airport and on an airplane. Passengers who crowd the gate agents and will not wait for their Zone to be called for boarding but insist on boarding before others. Passengers who insist on holding up the boarding process and line by carrying on their bag and attempting to find a place for it when all of the overhead space is clearly full. Passengers who sprawl out on both armrests and mark their space.
“Your rules don’t apply to me.”

Uh, yes they do. And you look like an ass when you ignore them.