I Have Zero Plans To Step Back From The Baggage Carousel

People who know me know that I don’t like to overreact to things I hear and read. I spend a lot of my day reading and listening and when I’m done with something, I usually say “good day to you” and go on my way.

But the other day I heard something that so boiled my blood… that so cramped my quads… I mean, it really squeezed my sponge. And I was just furious.

It was a suggestion -- an edict, really -- that called on society to step back from the baggage carousel at the airport. When we crowd around the carousel, we form a wall that other people can’t see through -- so they don’t know if their bag is coming and they can’t reach through to grab it.

But here's the thing: In life there are winners and losers. Winners get right up against the baggage carousel and look for their bag, grab it and go. They take what they want and they leave everyone else behind.

Losers stand in the back waiting for everyone else to get their bags before they work up the courage to peek at the carousel to see if their horrible, weird long duffel bag made it off the plane and wasn’t burned on the tarmac (as it should have been).

If this sounds like a cold, Darwinistic view, that’s because it’s absolutely necessary.

The Italians get it. Image: Chris Harrison.

All public transportation is a bare knuckle cage fight death match of one form or another. Trains are nightmare tubes, filled with people talking too loudly on their phones or engaged in what some would call “canoodling”. And if you’re brave enough to take a bus, the statistical likelihood that you’ll end up on the business end of an unprovoked racist attack skyrockets.

Airplanes are no different. They’re unpleasant, uncomfortable petri dishes of disease and resentment that are killing the planet.

If I’ve just been trapped on a flight in one of these things, my knees are probably aching, I’ve got a headache from being slammed in the head over and over again by the reclining seat in front of me and I've probably watched five to six Gerard Butler movies in a row. I want to get my bag and get out of there.

Did our 'Toy Story 2' friends wait for their luggage? No. They climbed onto the belt itself and became masters of their own destiny. (Image: Disney)

Would I like for everyone to behave in an orderly fashion? Sure. Would I love it if baggage retrieval didn’t turn into Lord of the Flies? Of course. Do I ache for an age when every person gains awareness of the fact that there are other people on this planet? You better believe it.

I also wish we lived in a world where people didn’t leave their trash in the movie theatre. I wish people said “thank you” when you held the door open for them. I wish people on social media told me I was good looking more often. 

But life isn’t how we want it to be. Life is hard. Life is tough. Life, as they say, is a charging rhino and you either swing up and ride it or you get trampled.

Sorry, what were we talking about?

Oh right.

Everyone crowds the baggage carousel. Everyone. If you don’t, you’re in trouble. And you know what? It works, to the extent that anything works when lots of people are involved.

I’m not sure I see how stepping back from the carousel will solve anything. There will still be an impenetrable body wall obscuring the baggage. If you’re so short or shy or shaken by the prospect of saying “excuse me” and wedging yourself in between other people to see your bag, you’re screwed either way.

Does this guy look like he waited politely for other people get their bags before he got his? Look at his hair. He's not waiting for anyone. (Image: Warner Bros)

Regardless of where you stand, consideration for others is the answer here. If someone needs to see if their bag is on the carousel, someone else needs to move aside. It’s common courtesy. But people aren’t built to be courteous. They’re animals. They operate on instinct. And instinct is telling them to knock over your grandma in her wheelchair because here comes their creepy cardboard box wrapped in duct tape that has “Fragile” misspelled as “Fraggle” all over it.

This holiday season, there will be a lot of people getting on and off planes to visit loved ones. What's important to remember that they are your enemies. They want to get their bags before you.

The only question is: What are you going to do about it?