This may be one for the etiquette mavens among us. Or maybe it’s just a matter of common courtesy. Or cluefulness.
The other day, I was flying with my family — myself, my wife, and two 7-year-old boys — from JFK to SFO. I was sitting with one kid, my wife a few rows back with the other. The plane was a 767, in a 2-3-2 configuration. I was on the aisle, a kid in the middle, a stranger on the other side of him.
About an hour into the flight, said stranger pulls out a laptop and fires up a movie: “Slumdog Millionaire.” My immediate thoughts, in rough order:
- That’s not on DVD yet; the SOB is watching an illegal download.
- He’s watching an R-rated movie — one that features graphic scenes of little kids getting maimed — in full view of a 7-year-old.
The flight was all but full, so there was no opportunity for us to change seats and I’m probably too stubborn by nature to have done so even if it had been possible. I’m also not the kind of guy to go all bluenose on someone. This is a legit and excellent movie; it’s not like he was watching porn, or even Saw III.
But the guy seemed perfectly oblivious to who was sitting around him, and that maybe this wasn’t just wasn’t the time, place or manner to be watching what he was watching. And my kid, like most kids, was attracted by the nice moving pictures on the bright shiny screen next to him.
Fortunately, I could fight fire with fire. I reached into my Bag of Tricks and pulled out my own laptop and set of Animaniac disks — far more interesting images to my boy that what his neighbor was showing.
But I’m bugged by the solution. Would I have been within my rights to ask the guy to shut it off? It’s not like he asked to be seated in the kids’ section. Should I have involved the flight attendant? (Is there an airline policy on what people are allowed to watch on their laptops?) What if I hadn’t seen Slumdog, and didn’t know what images were down the line?
Or should I just rat the guy out to AMPAS?