As Dostoyevsky wrote, a beast can never be so cruel as a man, so artistically cruel, so it’s of little surprise that a random airport worker lashed out with his fist at a passenger — a traveler who was not only holding an infant in his arms at the time, but who had languished for some 13 hours while waiting for his repeatedly delayed flight.
This scene of very human brutality played out over the weekend in, of all places, Nice, France, where travelers at Nice Côte d’Azur Airport were waiting on an easyJet flight to London Luton Airport in the UK.
According to travelers on the scene, this two-hour hop across the Channel was repeatedly delayed due to mechanical issues, leaving ticketed passengers realizing they could have driven most of the 900+ miles across the full length of France, through the Chunnel and back to London — all while enjoying significantly more pleasant scenery than an airport terminal.
Compounding the absurdity of the situation, passengers on this flight (is it a “flight” if it never leaves the ground?) say they watched in confounded irritation as other easyJet planes departed Nice for Luton.
Travelers tell the Washington Post that airport and airline staff were not forthcoming with helpful information about when their plane might cease being useless, or if anything really matters in a universe devoid of meaning.
The Magic 8 Ball of fate finally appeared to be in their favor when, after more than a dozen hours, passengers were told they would finally be boarding — only to be mocked by the futility of existence when, following another 30 minutes spent idling on a skybridge, they were sent back to the gate for additional waiting.
That’s when the man holding the infant said something to an airport employee — a worker for a third-party company that, ironically, is supposed to aid travelers.
Things got heated between the two, then hands were raised, sending the boulder of civil discourse back down the hill again.
“The [airport] employee lifted his hand first and pushed the mobile phone out of the man’s hand,” one passenger, who Tweeted the amazing photo below, told the Washington Post. “You could see it go flying. The man pushed him back, like he was protecting the baby… And then he just whacked him.”
As Camus noted, while the Absurd Man may be amoral, that does not mean he is free — legally or ethically — to act immorally.
“The absurd does not liberate; it binds. It does not authorize all actions,” explained Camus, who was not at the Nice airport on Saturday because he died in 1960. “‘Everything is permitted'” does not mean that nothing is forbidden.”
And so it was that both the airport employee and the punched man were escorted from the scene, with easyJet absolving itself via Twitter of any responsibility in the matter, even though its delayed flight (and inability to get travelers on other flights) is arguably the spark of this brief, brutal explosion.
Our message to easyJet comes from Sartre, who claimed that “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.”
Much to the world’s detriment, Sartre never worked as a PR rep for a discount airline.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Consumerist.