Monday, September 20, 2010
Rebel with a Cause :o)
This past weekend, I was almost arrested for misconduct on an airplane. I wasn't the obnoxious drunk or a physical threat to anyone, although I wished I might have had a little buzz as I was escorted off the plane by police when we landed. The story?
Brian and I were separated on the plane. Brian and Rita Clare sat 4 rows ahead of me, while I sat next to a stranger (male) with Tyler. One of the flight attendants seemed to pick on all of us, since we boarded the plane. Is RC's car seat FAA approved for flight? Was my mini suitcase too heavy? Could I please make sure my bag was completely under the seat in front of me? Could Rita Clare keep it down and stop tapping her pretzel, since it was a disruption to the rest of the people on the plane?
The kicker was when she demanded I take Tyler out of my carrier and hold him over my shoulder during the entire flight. At this time, I was TRYING to breastfeed discreetly and Tyler was finally dozing off for a much needed nap. At first, I was kinda nodding like ok ok I'll try and get him out when I can, attempting to stall for time. I really didn't want to take him out. She came back again a few minutes later asking and I said ok again but didn't do anything. I realized then she wasn't going to let it go until I took him out, so I needed to make a real decision.
I decided I wasn't going to take him out. We've flown a bunch and this has never been brought up as a rule. Take off, landing, and taxiing were the only times I've been told he needed to be out of our carrier. When she came back for the third time, I told her I had decided that I was going to keep him in and would not be removing him. She was furious and huffed about it threatening that she'd be taking this to...the captain! As I sat there away from Brian, not being able to talk it out with him, I thought about the situation. What's going to happen now? Am I going to have to take this to court and make a stand for all the mamas out there that have been treated like this? How far do I REALLY want to take this and would Brian support my decision? Am I being rational about this or just being stubborn?
About 10 minutes later, she came back with a piece of paper stating I was in violation of federal regulations. It also said I could be imprisoned or fined. She came back a little later asking if I had read the sheet and snatched it back from me. I told her I'd be happy to talk to the captain about this and she snapped, "Oh you won't be talking to the captain about this..."
Here's what I came up with. Deep down, I knew this lady was a bully and wanted to feel powerful over me and everyone else on the plane. I know my baby was much safer and better off in the carrier at that point in time. I also decided I was not ready to get arrested, spend a lot of time in court, and that Brian would probably ask me to not take this too far right now. It was a tough situation for me because I do not like being unjustly pushed around and having someone demand I do something I don't think is best for my kids.
If any of you have been in a situation when you're asked not to breastfeed in an establishment, perhaps you can relate to this. You are not weak for choosing to just leave and not put up a fight. It's not like you say no, the police come with the news, and you walk away a hero minutes later. It is an absolutely BIG commitment (worthy and commendable!) of time and money to make a stand....a process that doesn't work around your family's schedule.
What happened next? Well, fortunately Tyler helped me out. Not too long after I was given the violation slip, Tyler woke up and wanted to get out of the carrier and play. SO, I happily took him out and held him during landing and taxiing the way I was told was right. Once we arrived at the gate, the announcer told everyone to stay seated for a couple minutes. Then 2 officers (Armed) came on the plane and asked me to follow them. I wish I had a camera, so I could have taken a picture of Brian's face. His face was like, what the........? My legs were like jelly and I really could NOT believe the attendant had called the police on me.
The officers looked at the baby in confusion and wanted to know the story. As soon as I told them how I was breastfeeding and trying to be discreet, etc, they were pissed they'd been called for this and apologized to me. Also, greeting me off the plane was head of airport security! After making a statement and seeing all of their reactions, I was finally able to breathe, knowing I wasn't going to prison or fined. In fact, they all apologized and I was really grateful for it.
I'm also going to be filing a complaint about the attendant, as a way to prevent other women from experiencing this. She was wrong and should be held accountable for what she did. I'm just glad I don't have to say it to a judge or be kept from my kids stuck behind bars......
Jen Starks, Owner www.ecologicalbabies.com firstname.lastname@example.org 850.284.5887