Occupy the Queue

01.10.12

Some Occupiers Are More Equal Than Others

The 'Occupy' movement hits the airport.

There's a lively "Occupy New Hampshire" demonstration on the main street of downtown Manchester. When I ran into famed radio talker Neal Boortz in a TV studio he told me of his adventures of walking into the throng and igniting an argument. "I had A LOT to tell them," he said, chuckling grimly.

Myself, I'm giving the protesters wide berth. I already had my Occupy encounter in Des Moines, and it was embarrassing to all parties. It started in the huge lineup to board the Air Tran flight out of Des Moines the day after the caucuses. Air Tran will not pay Des Moines airport the rent to operate check-in kiosks, so every passenger must be checked by two overworked employees. The line snaked through the airport like the last helicopter out of Saigon.

About half an hour after I joined the line, my friend Laura Ingraham arrived with her producer—surveyed the line—and blanched. I waved Laura over to stand with me. Laura smashed her knee in a serious skiing accident years ago, and prolonged standing is not easy for her.

This line-cutting understandably offended the man just behind me. He and I had chatted cordially enough for a few minutes before Laura's arrival. He'd been in town to take part in the Occupy protests in Iowa—opposite sides of the barricades in real life, but in the airline line, we're all brothers.

Airport brotherhood only goes so far under the pressure of lines and delays. Allowing Laura to cut the line aggrieved my former comrade's 99% sense of fairness. He began to make noisy cellphone calls, announcing in a theatrically loud voice: "Yeah, I standing in line behind David Frum and Laura Ingraham. Frum just let Ingraham cut into line ahead of me ..."

Laura was ready to rumble, but I restrained her. Growing up in Canada leaves you a lifelong sense that queue-jumping is about the worst human infraction short of embezzling from the orphanage. I felt pretty badly in the wrong and unwilling to argue. So we braced ourselves as, like the French knights in the Monty Python Holy Grail movie, our man taunted us from just out of reach. "Yeah, Frum and Ingraham ..."

Finally, mercifully, Laura, her producer, and I reached the front of the line and checked in. More time passed before we could board. As we filed into the airplane we saw in the first class cabin ... Mr. 99%! Surprise—America may remain a mobile society after all…