Just Ugh.

When I first read this completely humorless piece of dreck on why I shouldn’t wear my track pants while flying in an airplane, my first reaction was vicious and negative (my first reaction is usually viciously negative). “Ugh. Yet another dollop of shame-induced behavior modification from our friends the taste-makers at Slate.”

The author, J. Bryan Lowder, has initial-ized his real first name (the “J.” stands for “I am extremely affected”), went to NYU, and works at Slate. If there ever was a triple crown for being sneeringly insufferable that may be it.

J. Bryan’s issue of TREMENDOUS importance, one that he just felt compelled to write about, is that travelers just don’t dress that nicely on airplanes anymore.

We’re donning pajama pants with reckless abandon. It offends his senses. But he’s quick to point out that he isn’t a snob, it’s just that the rest of us are slobs.

There are lots of ways to get people to do things. There’s encouragement, cajoling, guilt, bribery, hypnosis, or, you know, you could try convincing us with a rational and logical argument. Of the tricks. Those other methods are about achieving the end goal (getting someone to do something you want). Shame is partially about that, but  its also about being able to look down your nose at someone just because they do something differently from you. When people do things differently it means they (the object of your ridicule) aren’t all that interested in participating in whatever bullshit paradigm/social framework/hierarchy of which you, the sham-er, are the self-appointed arbiter.

J. Bryan argues that we should dress for travel as he does for work. Sorry if you’re a mechanic or a zookeeper, you’d better make an extra trip to Zara. Air travel is different for work in two important respects: (1) Unlike work, no airline has ever paid me to fly with them, and (2) flying is a miserably uncomfortable experience. If Delta is willing to fly me in style, than I’m willing to do my part. But last time I checked, it no longer looks like this:

vintage travel 16

Airline travel, in my experience, is much more akin to going to a baseball game than a trip to the Opera. The food is terrible, the lines are long, you’re seat has about 7 fewer inches than the minimum necessary to inhale completely, and everything is organized in a way to extract as much money from you as possible. On top of all that, I’m supposed waste one of my freshly ironed shirts? I don’t think so.

J. Bryan’s other claim, although anecdotal, is borderline fraud. He alleges that airlines will provide you with better treatment if you dress nicely. This is complete bullshit. Airlines are large profit-maximizing corporations that have developed sophisticated systems to pre-determine if you are of any value to them. These systems are the reward points systems, and they feed into an algorithm that tells the airline whether or not they should bother with you. You are nothing more than a “$.” Whether or not you wear track pants makes no difference, and any romanticized notion to the contrary  is at best delusional and at worst completely dishonest.


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