Elevate those guns a little lower . ——Andrew Jackson
Woman shooter in 1914 :I was flying to Europe a few years ago ; first lap was to New York . I didn’t get my requested aisle seat and had to sit one seat in . The guy who got an aisle seat , the one who I would have to be crawling over to get out into the aisle all through the flight , was a talkative fellow . Young guy from Nevada . His wife had the aisle seat across from him , on the other side of the aisle . That was a smart move ; good planning . They had paid twenty bucks extra each for the aisle seats .
I might should have paid the 20 bucks , too , but for the nagging thought in my mind that this kind of nickel-and-dime stuff perpetrated by airlines is wrong . Ryan Air , in Europe , apparently went so far as to consider charging for the use of restrooms in flight . That’s too much , isn’t it ?Airlines charge for the seats near exits because they have a few inches of extra leg room . They’ll sell me a beer on board for seven dollars . Well , they won’t sell me the beer . I’m sensitive to the nagging notion that I’m being taken advantage of .
A flight is not a vacation . It’s not an amusement park , either . It’s not one of those occasions when someone might forget the family budget . The flight might be on the way to a vacation . It may be , for others , a business trip . A flight’s not one of those times a person might say : ” Oh , what the hell ! Let’s forget the cost and have fun ! ” ( I might have paid extra for an isle seat if the isle was nice ) It’s transportation . I paid for my ticket , and now my wallet’s shut down for the flight . All those extra charges are annoying . They’re bait I won’t bite , mostly out of sheer stubbornness .
Anyway . I guess that’s neither here nor there . This post is going elsewhere , I think .
I ended up sitting next to a guy who , evidently , didn’t share my views on paying for an aisle seat . He bought himself a beer , too. Maybe he was right . I’m not saying I was right . We could still be civil toward one another nevertheless , I decided . It’ll be a long flight , one way or another .
This guy was talkative . He had pictures on his phone , too , to illustrate his chatter . Guns . He showed me hundreds of tiny photos of his guns ; not of his kids , or of his wife , or of his home . He seemed especially proud of his M-16 . I glanced at his tiny photos and pretended interest .
” What we went to Vietnam with ,” he said , pointing to the M-16. He was too young to be of the Vietnam War generation . ” It replaced the Garand rifle of WWII .” At this point I contributed to the discussion by saying that the U.S. issued M-14s in Vietnam before M-16s . I tried to sound knowlegeable . I didn’t have a phone to help me illustrate my chatter , however .
” Are you a shooter ? ” he asked . ” You look like a shooter.”
At that moment I discovered that , to a shooter , I look like a shooter . Is that a good thing ? , I wondered .
I looked at this guy again and decided that he was not of my crowd . ” Shooter ” to him was , I suspected , something of a distinctive category of human being , with sharp edges , intolerance as a watchword , hate as a basic ingredient . Remember , I was the one who listened to his chatter from LAX to JFK . I took the measure of the man . He may have been a kind , tolerant , Mother Theresa – sort of a person . Might have been , but I got another impression . He is what he is . That doesn’t matter much , of course , since I’ll never see him again .
I won’t go into the factors contributing to my impression . It wasn’t that he collected guns , though , or that he liked to shoot . I don’t think it was even that he paid $40 extortion money for an aisle seat for his wife and himself , either . It’s hard to explain . But , with some people , we get those unsettling vibes , don’t we ? I got ’em with Shooter -boy .
I imagine him holed up in his fortified bunker compound somewhere in Nevada , with his weapons and his stockpiled ammunition , waiting for Armageddon , with his wife and kids at the other gun ports to provide crossfire .
I told him , ” No. No I’m not a shooter . ” He seemed disappointed . It must have been a long flight from then on for him , too .
Roosevelt High School students in Los Angeles in 1941 :