The Cheeseburger Martyr

On our flight from Havana to Los Angeles, there was a Cheeseburger Martyr.

There are many things to be thankful for on your flight from Havana to Los Angeles. You have just experienced one of the most fascinating countries and warmest people in the Western Hemisphere; you will soon have access to your car, grocery stores and bank ATMs; you live in a place where you are free to say whatever you want about the government.

The Cheeseburger Martyr, up first to get his carry-on before anyone else

There is no reason to be shitty.

The man looked pleasant enough as he boarded and sat down in the row in front of us — grandfatherly, fit, Patagonia-esque dress, a kind smile. The facade would soon be betrayed, however, when the food service started.

“Can I get a cheeseburger?” he said to the passing flight attendants, who were headed toward first class.

“You will have to wait until we come back,” she said. To which he replied rhetorically:

“But all the cheeseburgers will be gone, won’t they…”

And he laughed and shook his head in a condescending, haughty manner that we would see several more times throughout the flight.

Airplane cheeseburger

The flight attendants finally reached the back of the airplane with the meal service.

“I’d like a cheeseburger,” he said.

“I’m sorry sir, the cheeseburgers are all gone. Can I get you something else?”

Of course, it’s a legitimate complaint that the food-and-beverage services on airplanes always begin at the front, and the food is often gone by the time they reach the back. But you can actually sit in the front by paying a bit more, thereby assuring yourself a cheeseburger. Or, as the flight attendant pointed out, you can pre-order food for your flight. But any of those options would deprive the man of his perception of being persecuted against, and the tirade that followed.

“You can contact the airline to express your frustration,” the patient flight attendant counseled. “I have no more cheeseburgers, all I can do is offer you something else.” He did the haughty head shake and condescending chuckle.

I was about to point out to the gentleman that he could’ve avoided his cheeseburger martyrdom by bringing food on the airplane, as we did. And probably he really wasn’t missing that much. But I realized that really wasn’t what it was about.

A short time later, the flight attendant brought him a U.S. Customs & Immigration form.

“Here’s your Customs & Immigration form,” she said pleasantly. “You won’t need it at the airport, but now you have it.”

“Why won’t I need it?”

“Because LAX is all automated now. They don’t use these forms anymore.”

“Then why did you bring it to me.”

“Because you insisted you wanted one as quickly as possible, and didn’t listen when I tried to explain to you that you didn’t need one.”

He laughed and shook his head at the incompetency of the rest of the world. At this point, the bearded millennial sitting next to him had had enough.

“Dude,” the kid said, “You’ve got a stick up your ass.” And proceeded to read the guy the riot act, while my wife and I listened in. The Cheeseburger Martyr seemed taken aback, and attempted a weak defense, which the kid was having none of. I gave the young man a thumb’s up. After a few moments of discussion, they seemed to have come to a truce, introduced each other, perhaps apologized, I couldn’t hear, and got back to their books and devices.

When the plane landed in Los Angeles, guess who was the first one up to get his bag from the overhead compartment?

We saw him one last time, in the immigration line. He had cut under the barrier rope to gain advantage on a few people, and was delivering an earful — smug smirk and head shake included — to an airport employee about how inefficient the entire process was.

“Wow,” I said as he passed by us, “He’s still complaining!”

“Yes,” the martyr smiled at me with self satisfaction, “I am.”

We passed through customs and caught the shuttle to our car, thankful to be back on American soil. And even more thankful to never have to see the Cheeseburger Martyr again.

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Noel Kleinman
    May 12, 2017 @ 21:06:13

    Cheeseburger Martyr…you spelled asshole wrong!


  2. Mom
    May 12, 2017 @ 21:11:17

    And that’s the only thing he can think up to do to bolster his ego which is an unnecessary appendage as it is.


  3. Cheryl "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser
    May 12, 2017 @ 22:18:04

    Wow it takes all kinds Sean! Have a great weekend! Happy Mom’s Day to your wife and Mom, Sis, etc.


  4. Amanda
    May 14, 2017 @ 13:00:25

    Eeew. People like that make me want to slide “karma” a few extra bucks just to get the job done faster…. LOL I hope he doesn’t have a wife – poor woman…


  5. Conor Bofin
    May 15, 2017 @ 11:42:06

    Hey! That was me!



  6. apriljulianne
    May 16, 2017 @ 23:09:29

    Perhaps we should try to have compassion for people like this. Clearly, there’s a lot of pain in his life. You don’t know how he got that way. Count your blessings.


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