DEAR ABBY: After many hours of delays and waiting, my parents and I finally got on a plane to return home. When the flight landed, we sat on the runway for almost an hour waiting for a gate to open up. A man in the row behind us turned on his cell phone and called someone explaining the situation, using the "F" word in between just about every word he said. He was standing in the aisle and his voice was loud.
My father turned and said, "Excuse me, but there are women and children on this plane. Would you mind watching your language, please?" The man became belligerent and said, "No one could hear me!" Then my mother piped up, "I could hear you." Someone traveling with this foul-mouthed person turned to my father and said, "You don't know who you are messing with!" Next thing I knew, another person involved himself, verbally abusing and threatening my father. The flight attendant just stood there and watched the entire episode without saying a word.
Abby, the exchange left me feeling that there is no common decency left in this world. Instead of saying, "Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize I was talking so loud," or, "I apologize for using that language in front of your wife and daughter," he looked for an excuse. Whatever happened to having respect for those around you when you're in public? Are we supposed to tolerate anything and everything that comes our way, and refrain from standing up for what is right, for fear of an altercation? Was my father wrong to turn and say what was on his mind? -- SICK OF DISRESPECT IN DALLAS
DEAR SICK: Your father wasn't wrong to speak up. However, he did take a chance of sparking an altercation. The man behind him may have been drunk as well as belligerent. The seat companion who pointed out that your father "didn't know who he was messing with," was right. The man could have had serious mental problems or a record of violent crime as long as your father's arm.
In years past, people followed certain rules of behavior in public. In the last few years, we have become aware of violent outbursts on aircraft. In response, strict penalties have been put into effect for passengers who cannot control their behavior. Perhaps the rules should be broadened to include people who turn the air around them blue with profanity.