Surfers, by which I mean you and me, travel via airplane more than our non-surfing peers. We fly to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, Australia’s Gold Coast, Australia’s west coast, Reunion Island and Hawaii. Oh we see all manner of things when we fly, many of them disturbing, like open-mouth sleeping, headphone-less movie watching, clapping vigorously upon landing and bare feet.
Now, we surfers, we know that not all bare feet are the same. There are, to name a few:
White businessman bare feet… pale white and wrinkled as if they were just in warm water. Toenails not nice.
Chinese businessman bare feet… usually uniform in color with better toenails but worse overall vibes.
Young adult traveling around Europe (male and female)… peak disgusting.
Hawaiians or various other Pacific Islanders… the very pictures of health. Brown, hearty, a symbol of national pride.
Hawaiians or various other Pacific Islanders wear slippahs and only slippahs. Toes, spread wide by lack of constraint, like happy turtles sunbathing, cannot even go inside shoes anymore.
Well, our non-surfing peers unaccustomed to such things lump all bare feet on airplanes together and then “passenger shame” with modern gusto. This unfortunate bigotedness even made it in to the august pages of The Wall Street Journal and let us read together.
THE CLIP IS CHILLING. Stephen King couldn’t have crafted a more skin-tingling scene. I am talking about the recent viral video of an airline passenger using their bare big toe to swipe across their personal TV screen. In the clip, which was posted by Twitter user Erik Olvera on January 1, the sockless flier toe-scrolls through the movie options with a disturbing level of ease.
I almost, almost, admire how little this passenger seems to care about her exposed tootsies. But should I be so surprised by this sockless wonder? Not at all, according to Shawn Kathleen, the former flight attendant behind the over one-million-follower Instagram account, @PassengerShaming. (She goes by her first name to maintain partial anonymity). The account is a catalog of ludicrous on-plane behaviors, as witnessed and submitted by fellow travelers and flight attendants. Recently, Shawn Kathleen has received a high volume of foot-related footage.
But how did we get to the point where bare hooves are the norm in the sky? “There’s a really strong sense of entitlement where people are like, ‘Hey I paid X amount of money for this plane ticket so I can treat this aircraft as I wish,’” she said in a phone interview. And it doesn’t stop at simply brandishing a bare foot. Passengers now throw their feet up on tray tables, inside the seat-back pocket and even on someone else’s seat.
That’s precisely what happened to A.J. Henning, 38, a teacher in Santa Barbara, Calif. On a recent flight to Hawaii, a seatmate “thought it was cool to take her shoes off and then put her bare feet” on his young son’s seat. He said something to the woman, who eventually removed her feet. “The lack of thinking of others was what got me,” said Mr. Henning.
In all sincerity, Mr. Henning should have been honored by the actions of the Hawaiian woman who graced her young son with those badges of virility. He should have thanked her, not shamed her and it’s our duty, as surfers, to pave the way for acceptance since we have culturally appropriated their Pastime of Kings. The very least we can do, really.
Unless, that is, the aforementioned seatmate was not Hawaiian at all but a young adult traveling around Europe by way of Hawaii.
Profoundly disturbing in that case.
While we’re together, what is your least favorite thing to see on an airplane?