Can the captain of an airplane teach 5th grade?

One thing led to another, and we found ourselves, mid-January, on a flight to Aruba.

The announcements began not long after we boarded.

“When you purchased your tickets with Jet Blue, you agreed to a contract stating that you would wear a mask on the airplane. If something has changed between that time and now, and you feel you are no longer able to wear a mask, please contact the stewardess and she will help you make other travel arrangements.”

Mask contract?

?

We were wearing our masks. We hadn’t taken them off since we’d entered the airport, and didn’t plan to until we were on the ground again and back out of the airport in Aruba.

But I didn’t remember signing a mask contract.

Possibly we hadn’t. The only reason we were on an airplane in the first place was that we had year-old, pre-pandemic tickets that were expiring and needed to be used, and since we’d both had COVID in the spring, we figured we’d be OK. So we rebooked the flight.

Maybe we’d been grandfathered in without the contract?

Minutes later, the steward was back on the PA system: “When you purchased your tickets with Jet Blue, you agreed to a contract stating that you would wear a mask on the airplane. If something has changed between that time and now, and you feel you are no longer able to wear a mask, please contact the stewardess.”

Uh oh.

Somebody wasn’t contacting the stewardess.

Who?

I mulled. Did everyone else know there was a mask contract? Or were other people just finding out the way I was?

Was it an implicit mask contract?

A not-spelled-out-but-assumed mask contract?

Plus: what did “if you feel something has changed” mean?

What could change between the time you signed a contract saying you’d wear a mask on an airplane and the day you actually boarded the plane?

Sudden-onset severe respiratory disease?

Sudden-onset severe mask-induced claustrophobia?

What was he talking about?

The steward again.

Passengers should pull their masks up over the bridge of their noses. The mask should not rest below the tip of your nose. The mask should be worn over the bridge of your nose. Please pull your masks up over the bridge of your nose.

Ah hah. Below-the-nosers. That figured.

PA: Masks must be worn over the bridge of your nose. 

Pause

PA: Masks must be pulled up over the bridge of your nose. 

The announcements had now gone on so long, with so little apparent effect, that I was beginning to feel paranoid.

Was he talking about me? 

Everyone around me was properly masked; nobody looked like they were part of a Mask Uprising on an airplane.

Was my mask not pulled far enough up my nose?

I do pull my mask up over my nose, but I push it down just far enough to be able see my phone without bending my neck 90 degrees–was that wrong? Was that not what Jet Blue meant by pulling your mask over the bridge of your nose? Was I in breach of contract?

And if I was, would the steward tell me?

As opposed to making a running series of public announcements about nose bridges and help making other travel arrangements?

PA: Once we are in flight, if you do not wear your mask covering the bridge of your nose, we will turn the plane around, land in New York, and have you escorted off the plane.

What?

Turn the plane around?

Take off, establish cruising altitude, then turn the plane around?

That’s the plan?

This was getting old.

As a strict matter of logic, after at least 5 unheeded mask announcements, wouldn’t it make more sense just to escort the mask refuseniks off the plane now?

Instead of going to all the trouble of taking off then turning the plane around mid-flight?

~~~~~~~~~

Predictably, things didn’t get better once we were in the air.

PA: If your mask does not cover the bridge of your nose, we will turn the plane around.

PA: If your mask does not cover the bridge of your nose, we will turn the plane around.

PA: If your mask …. 

By now, teacher-me was activating.

How many threats had this guy made?

Ten?

Twenty?

It wasn’t twenty, but teacher-me was losing patience.

~~~~~~~~~

Then: Lo.

The captain was on the system.

The captain.

“The steward tells me there are several passengers who do not want to wear their masks. You are required to wear a mask on this airplane. If you don’t, we’ll land in San Juan and you can find some other way to get to Aruba. I have the resolve.”

WHAT?

WHAT?

You have the resolve?

? ? ? ? ?

No you don’t.

You have no resolve.

A person who has resolve doesn’t have to say he has resolve.

Just turn the plane around, for God’s sake!

Land in San Juan!

Put these guys in parachutes, toss them overboard!

Better yet, put me in a parachute and let me jump!

Just don’t issue another warning, ever, for the rest of this flight. Stop talking!

I was beyond annoyed. We’d been on the plane for a good 5 hours at that point, listening to one mask directive after another, and now we had the captain on the PA system barking about resolve.

I was also contracting a wicked case of COVID, my second in under a year, and much worse than the first. Thanks, Jet Blue! Thanks for spending six hours telling the mask refusers you’re going to kick them off the plane instead of kicking them off the plane!

When we got home I told C the story before I collapsed into bed with a 102-degree fever. C teaches sixth grade in the Bronx.

“The captain was like a teacher who lost control of the classroom.”

So, no. The captain of an airplane–the captain of our airplane, anyway–can’t teach 5th grade, or 6th grade, or any other grade.

He doesn’t have the resolve.

And see: Follow up

2 thoughts on “Can the captain of an airplane teach 5th grade?

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