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The Making of a Monster

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I'm not sure what it is about the motion of travelling, but I've recently come to realise that when I am in the process of getting myself from A to B, I turn in to a bit of a monster. And I think a lot of other people do too.

Last week I managed to miss a flight by one minute. This is, one minute from the gate closing to board the plane, which is a lot worse than one minute from checking in. I'd successfully managed to get my boarding pass, drop off my bag and go through security (being scanned for explosives and everything) before I was seduced by the smell of a nearby sausage sandwich. And so, with ketchup dripping from my mouth, I munched away oblivious to the calls for the one last remaining passenger to go to Gate 11, immediately.

When I did finally amble round to Gate 11, I was told plain and simply that the gate was now closed, and that my bag was being removed from the plane. Sure enough, looking across the tarmac, I saw a motorised trolley for one pull round to collect my belongings, and drive them back into the depths of the terminal. And so the monster was born.

What followed was a five minute tirade of tuts, huffs, and insults. Admittedly the insults were mostly of a mild nature, said under my breath, and delivered in an apologetic polite kind of way, but they were insults all the same. I had cast the memory of the sausage sandwich stop aside and was hell bent on a mission to defect the blame of my mistiming to anyone other than myself. And ashamedly, I did. A glitch in the shuttle bus scheduling meant that the airport took responsibility for my slower than normal travel time and gave me the next available flight for free. A victory, you might say, but in my post monster mood I was not feeling particularly triumphant.

The monster was previously unleashed during another airport incident late last year. Flying to a wedding in the sun, I checked myself in then bought myself some sun cream, only to have it confiscated at security two minutes later. It was 25ml over the 100ml hand luggage liquid allowance. Obviously this is a nationwide, government-enforced rule and one not to be messed with. Not so for the monster.

Fuming at what would be essentially throwing away £8.99 I decided to make a stand and try to argue that I had only just bought it. I even produced the receipt and pointed animatedly in the direction of the shop. Not content with their default response, I laid in to the ridiculousness of the rule, and questioned how an extra 25ml could be a security risk. Then, in a final act of utter monster defiance, I took the sun cream, opened it up, and started applying it to my face and arms. If I had to throw it away, I was at least going to get some of my money's worth.

Pasty faced, I boarded the plane in a post-monster mood and absently rubbed my eyes, thus touching them up with sun cream, which in turn made them water all the way to the Algarve. This time the monster had lost.

But it's not just air travel, and I know it's not just me. I've got numerous friends who, upon boarding a taxi, decide that they know an unquestionably quicker route than the tried and tested black cabbie. And in true monster fashion tell him or her so.

Then there's the people who get on a bus and without hesitation monstrously blame the bus driver for the fact that they either don't have credit on their Oyster Card, or don't have the right change to buy a ticket.

And then there's the train. God help all inspectors when the ticket less monster prevails. In tirades of abuse I've witnessed normally calm and decent people invent extraordinary reasons as to why they are not in possession of a valid pass, or why they bought their ticket using a railcard that they don't physically possess.

But what is it about being on the move that reduces us to normally inexcusable behaviour? It could be the time pressure we immediately feel from leaving the house. We've got a schedule, we've got an end goal, and nothing is going to get in our way as we strive to reach it. Or it could be the feeling that we've already lost before we've even begun. With all the ridiculous rules, policies and paperwork that autonomous travel workers have to follow, there is almost certainly a computer that is going to say no at some point during our all too often ill-fated journeys.

While the monster may make good viewing for fellow passengers at the time, or a good anecdote to tell friends later, with hindsight I'm pretty sure it just makes me look like a twat.