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I’ve been thinking a lot about that Jet Blue flight attendant who, after a dispute with a passenger, got on the public-address intercom and let loose a string of invectives, then grabbed two beers from the beverage cart, pulled the lever that activates the emergency-evacuation chute and slid down, having what can only be called a Howard Beale moment.

A lot of attention has been paid to the flight attendant, and with justification. On the one hand, it may have been one of the best “I quit” moments ever, but it also pointed out how people on the front lines have the ultimate impact on how people perceive a company.

But for a moment, let’s think about the customer, who, according to the reports, got up before the seat belt sign went off. She also hit the flight attendant on the head with her suitcase - one assumes by accident - and refused to apologize.

What the hell is wrong with this woman?

We’ve spent a lot of time here on MNB in recent weeks bemoaning the lack of civility in politics, which seems to make governing almost impossible from either side of the aisle. But maybe we ought to consider the possibility that political dysfunction is simply a reflection of how horribly people behave in general. The examples range from the mildly annoying to the truly disgusting.

That woman on the airplane. Would it have killed her to stay in her seat for a few more minutes, or to apologize when she hit the poor flight attendant who was just trying to do his job? She must have thought so, because she seems to have behaved in a way that had absolutely no resemblance to compassionate, decent human conduct.

I’ll give you another example, from the mildly annoying end of the spectrum. At the Whole Foods near our house, there is a row of parking spaces that is reserved for energy efficient cars - and almost without fail, when I drive by, at least half the spaces are taken up by SUVs that are not hybrids. Don’t these people read signs? Or don’t they care? I’m guessing it is the latter...which also make me think that the spaces reserved for pregnant people or families with small children are actually being used by single folks or empty nesters who don’t give a damn what the signs say.

Some will say that this is a pretty benign violation of basic rules of civilized behavior. And it is. But things also get a lot worse.

I see a lot of weird stories as I prepare every day for MNB. Like stories about people who tried to sell their kids in the parking lot of a Walmart.

Or the story about the guy who recently was arrested in a Giant supermarket for going around using a small plastic bottle to spray women with - how shall I put this delicately? - his reproductive fluids and then take pictures of them with his cell phone.

Or that story earlier this week about the woman who got abusive and hit two employees at a McDonald’s because it was too early to get the McNuggets she craved.

Or another story about the guy working in a supermarket meat department who was discovered by a customer to be pleasuring himself behind the counter.

I see this stuff all the time, in newspaper reports from all over the country. I never cease to be gobsmacked by them. But you read enough of these stories, which range from the awful to the truly disgusting, and you start to develop a really jaded view of the human condition.

I like to think of myself as being guardedly optimistic about humanity’s future, but I’m getting less so lately. There are just too many examples of people behaving horribly toward each other, of only thinking of themselves, of crossing the line that separates decent people from animals.

When that flight attendant swore at those airplane passengers, in some small way he was giving voice to a growing frustration that I think exists among many people with how our culture and civilization is going to hell in a hand basket.

And we can’t blame it on politicians, or the media, or anyone other than ourselves.

End of rant.

For now.

For MNB Radio, I’m Kevin Coupe.
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