I nodded politely. "Yes, pretty much so."
"Not in Russia." She turned to her partner and sounded off again. When she wasn't complaining to him, she paced the concourse, her high heels clicking. She stood at the window and stared at the plane. She flicked her long hair back off her face, click clacked over to me and sat in an empty chair beside me.
"So, why you don't go ask them how much longer!? You are an American. You Americans have freedom of speech, no? You can find this out for me."
Most ignored her, and she finally quieted down. After a two hour delay, we boarded the plane for our long-anticipated vacation, and I had no further contact with her.
Although that incident happened years ago, it serves as a reminder of my right to dissent, to protest, to question, to express an opinion, to write about an incident and to question authority.
Yes, indeed, speaking up and speaking out are privileges and constitutional rights most of us take for granted. From the cradle to the grave we assert ourselves, mostly without fear of repercussion. Whether we are speaking, signing, blabbing face to face, or on cell phones, freedom of speech is our birthright.
I regret not explaining to the irate passenger that demanding and protesting loudly does not always bring desired results. Freedom of speech also involves making wise word choices. Tone of voice conveys as great a message as words.
I've taught my children and grandchildren that although they have the freedom to use hostile, demanding verbiage to assert themselves, calmly addressing a situation usually makes for a more peaceful outcome.
Where has civility gone?