JT's pro tips for not being an asshole when you travel #1

I travel a lot.  There are some behaviors I encounter regularly in my travels that make me want to accidentally on purpose spill my drink on people.  It seems to me that a hint of self awareness is all it would take to identify these behaviors as no-no’s.  Perhaps people just don’t care to be courteous.

But, you know me, always giving people the benefit of the doubt and all.  So, in the interest of helping raise awareness I give you JT’s pro tips for not being an asshole when you travel. 

Today’s tip:  Seating in an airport

In an airport there are a small amount of seats with electrical outlets.  There are oodles of seats without them.  If you are sitting in one of the seats with an electrical outlet and you are not charging something you are wrong.  This includes…

  • Reading a book
  • Taking a nap
  • Breathing
  • Essentially any activity that is not charging an electrical device or handing me money

Technology, it’s a beautiful thing.  It allows us to write, play solitaire, and a whole bunch of other stuff while we’re in the air.  But goshdarnit if all those 21st century gadgets don’t have finite power supplies that need to be replenished between flights.

Do us all a favor and don’t obstruct that resource if you don’t need it.  If I catch you doing this I will be forced to engage you in mortal combat.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Laura

    When I see someone doing that, I just walk up & plug in. Usually I then sit down next to the plug. Either they don’t car & I get my juice or they get weirded out and I get my seat.

  • teh_faust

    “If I catch you doing this I will be forced to engage you in mortal combat.”

    Sounds appropriate… Or you could just, you know, ask people to move?

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

      Appropriate given my level of rage.

      Of course, asking means confrontation, and I hate that.

      I’ve actually found that when I do ask them to move they generally throw a tantrum and ask why I can’t just sit somewhere else, even when I’ve just explained to them that I need the outlet they’re not using.

      That’s why I still ask people to move. I like seeing the wicked agitated.

      • teh_faust

        “Of course, asking means confrontation, and I hate that. ”

        … very much unlike mortal combat, huh?

      • http://www.skeptict.org Sean Gillespie

        You could just travel with an extension cord and string it across the people who refuse to move so you can comply with their desire that you just sit somewhere else. :)

  • Hazzard

    …unless the waiting room is crowded and seats are scarce, in which case your laptop no more entitles you to a chair, even one next to an outlet, than does my paperback book. (And the elderly can trump both of us.) But I assume you know that.

    • supermental

      Have you ever seen how some elderly behave? They can be worse than children.

      • Hazzard

        “Have you seen how some elderly behave…?” Yeah, they can be as bad as young well-dressed business-class travelers. Though I have yet to hear about an elderly troublemaker “chewing through his restraints,” like those Rim executives who were in the news lately. But I still give up my seat for arthritic grandmothers. Call me sentimental.

        • supermental

          No doubt… v.good point. I have seen well dressed businessmen/scientists/etc behave like complete a$$holes.

    • Rory

      It’s pretty likely that however ‘scarce’ open seats are, open seats next to outlets will be more scarce. So while it is certainly your ‘right’ to occupy an outlet seat when you could just as easily be occupying a non-outlet seat, then you should be willing to move if someone who specifically needs an outlet seat asks. Or, you could display a modicum of comprehension and courtesy and not create situations where other people have to ask you to not be a dick.

      • Hazzard

        Rory, I don’t disagree, and I hope I didn’t give that impression. All else being equal, it’s rude to insist on occupying a seat near an outlet when someone needs it. Of course. But all else is not always equal.

      • supermental

        Good stuff Rory. Agreed.

  • Sophia

    I shall remember this helpful tip when traveling to Reason Rally! SQUUUUUUUEEE

  • http://www.freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd Christina

    I usually just walk up, plug in (even if the plug is between their feet) and sit on the floor. Sometimes they move.

    I’ve also loaned my cell charger to perfect strangers. Cuz I’m nice like that.

  • Cunning Pam

    No seats near an outlet can be frustrating. I usually do as Laura mentioned, just plug in and stand/sit right next to the outlet while I charge up. What’s way worse IMO is when there are no seats because people have piled their shopping bags, gimungous carryons, purses, coats, backpacks etc. into the seats next to them, and then GET PISSY AND/OR REFUSE TO CLEAR A SPACE FOR SOMEONE TO ACTUALLY SIT THERE. Argh!

    • Hazzard

      Yes. This.

  • Mark

    Sounds like jealousy and covetous. This is a good opportunity for you to be “good without god.”

    • http://fengardice.wordpress.com Fabio García

      I assume it’s the person not using the outlet you’re telling that.

      • Mark

        No, I was telling that to the person who wanted something that they didn’t have at the expense of someone else’s comfort.

  • hopeevey

    There’s a very, very good chance I woudln’t realize I was sitting by an outlet – please don’t beat me up! If you do come across a roundy, glasses-wearing woman knitting while reading a book, let me know I’m in the way and I’ll move, promise.

    • Vicki

      Likewise, if the seat has no actual advantage to me. The other thing is that I may have taken that seat 40 minutes ago, because the seat with the outlet is also the seat with a table I can put my drink on so I don’t spill it in my lap. If I’ve finished that drink and there’s another seat, sure, ask and I’ll move. But if I’ve got a hot cup of tea, or even a cold smoothie, “I need not to spill my drink on myself when my only change of pants is in checked luggage” trumps “I need to check my email,” especially since you could still plug the thing in, and hold it or put it on that table while it charges.

  • Katie Tims

    I actually disagree on this one. Firstly, you don’t know the history of the person in the seat. There can be an advantage other than the outlet (T.V., view to a plane, 2-5 open seats so all travelers can sit together, location near the gate, etc…).

    They also could have already juiced.

    I don’t think that having an electrical contraption gives you any more right to a seat (with an outlet or not) than anyone else, especially since airports are usually large enough to have several such areas. YOU are the one who needs to do something special so that YOU can entertain yourself/work/etc. This is not MY responsibility, nor is it my responsibility to look under seats for outlets that someone MIGHT use, nor is it my responsibility to avoid seats by tables in case someone has a lunch. First come, first serve.

    Then again, I tend not to care when someone comes over to use the outlet.

  • Gingerbaker

    This is your #! complaint? Seriously? You lead a comfortable life, I think.

    Or, maybe you need to get unplugged from your devices more, if not having comfortable access to a power plug is more infuriating to you than overbooking, cancelling flights when they aren’t booked enough, crying and unruly children, etc.

    Hey, JT, maybe you should try doing more:

    “Reading a book
    Taking a nap
    Essentially any activity that is not charging an electrical device… ”

    Chill, man, you’re going to give yourself a heart attack.

  • passerby

    First world problems…

    Why is it that, when I read that last line, I see JT put on a pair of shades, rip off his shirt, and uppercut said offender? Of course, said offender would turn out to be a ninja, and the staff at the desk would happen to have a creepy low voice, perfect for the ‘Round One…FIGHT!’

  • http://justdfacsmaam.wordpress.com MarkNS

    I hate it when I manage to get an upgrade to Business class and the Economy class folks dare to make eye contact with me as they do the walk of shame through Business to the cattle car in the back.
    Keep Your Eyes Downcast!