First Class

If you ever wanted empirical proof that money can’t buy happiness, spend a little time in first class. One leg should be sufficient–no need to burden yourself with the experience more than that. 

There are exceptions to every generalization, of course, but I hardly expect there is a more concentrated collection of wealthy and comfortable, yet perennially dissatisfied and entitled people than you will find in the first class section of any given flight.

I know because I regularly fly first class. I’m a lawyer by day and I suppose that this is one of the perks to having to travel all of the time–we get miles and miles get you “upgraded” into first. It has its advantages for sure, and I’ll sum them up thusly: 1A: more room, 1B: more accessible bathroom, and 1C: the warm nuts. The warm nuts are only good in the context of air travel. They aren’t anything you’d buy from a newsstand or a restaurant. They are nut-like in taste, with a strong cardboard finish.

I’ve also flown a bazillion miles in coach. So my sample size for both cabins is good enough to give my overall analysis statistical significance (P value ≤.05). Lulz. I would wager I hear 10-fold the amount of bitching and complaining from the babies in first than I do from the folks in back, and I’m just beside myself in confusion over this.

I often wonder, on a metaphysical level, if it is the availability of upgraded services like first class, that assists in the evolution of people into whiney assholes. Perhaps it is simply the case that higher level services merely exacerbate man’s predisposition to assholery. My own decade and a half survey tends toward the conclusion that first class doesn’t actually turn people into frowning prunes of discontent–it’s just a gathering spot for them. A watering hole for the similarly afflicted. A place where your brethren share with you an empathetic grimace and disappointed little head shake when the flight attendant explains that the wine list is only two (2) wines long. Nevertheless, you still ask the flight attendant to run down the wines on every flight, just so you can hear it again, in wonderment at the shear incredulity of such a thing. I’ve heard this on several occasions.

“What wines do you have?”

“A chardonnay and a merlot.”


“That’s it.”

“Wow, uh, okay. I’ll have a double jack and coke. Make it a triple.”

The sense of entitlement is so strong that for some I’m convinced it has taken root in the parasympathetic nervous system. Take for instance my last neighbor, a perfect sphere of a man, for whom his sense of entitlement, combined with a lack of self-awareness, led him to simply steal and eat my little bowl of warm nuts. He’d already eaten his, and when they’d taken his bowl, he reached for mine–an amoeba swallowing a food particle–pulled it tightly against his rotund oblique, and proceeded to feed himself until those nuts too, were gone.

First class strikes me as an imperfect, but accurate microcosm of our greater society. The discontent felt and expressed by the rich seems to increase as bank accounts swell. Ever more dour as the market goes up. Shouldn’t it be the reverse? Shouldn’t people be more content, more satisfied and happy as they gain wealth? It seems the clichés and fables about money being a source of problems rather than a solution persist for the reason that they are true.

In a short 200 days, our country has quickly taken an aristocratic (and kakistocratic [government run by the least qualified and stupid]) turn. And when the rich are given tax cuts, subsidies, and every other advantage under the sun, I look to see their happy faces. I want them to be happy, because for all they have (and take), it should bring someone happiness, right? But I don’t see happy faces. I see the most powerful in this country with a list of grievances for the middle and lower classes that never seems to get any shorter. Anger that somebody other than the top 1% has anything. That’s what it feels like.

Was the man-sphere next to me happy he got warm nuts? You wouldn’t know it. So he ate mine. Was he happy then? Don’t know. He fell asleep.

One thought on “First Class

  1. We need to get together and discuss “front of the bus” riding….i think we’d have some similar and enlightening stories. Don’t get me started on gate lice….

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