“If that whackdoodle can have her chocolate lab, there is no reason why I can’t bring my chocolate pudding with me.” That’s what I told the stewardess. And I called her a stewardess because I know they hate that.
Between you and me, of course, I don’t believe in emotional support animals or any of that psuedoscience, but you bet your ass I’m gonna make a big stink about it. It has all gone too far. Dogs everywhere… Dogs on planes. Dogs in restaurants. Probably even dogs in Cats, on Broadway.
So I sat down one night and tried to think about what the most inane emotional support object I could conjure, and in the end, chocolate pudding edged out a scantily clad blowup doll. It’s also a lot easier to get around in public without dragging some inflatable O-face behind you.
So here’s what I say when the stewardess (once I start, I just can’t stop!) gives me that look. “Thank you for your continuous support of my evolving mental health journey. I have read all about how understanding Delta’s policy is regarding emotional support beings, and how much Delta prioritizes mental health. Recently, my breakdowns have increased in frequency, to a point where my shrink suggested I find an emotional constant.”
Now, of course, I don’t see a shrink. Clearly, I’m totally fine. But my friend is a psychologist and she explained the basics of emotional support animals in today’s society. When I asked her if companies could discriminate which animals counted as emotional support ones, she suggested I ask a lawyer. She also suggested talking to a therapist. I assume she was telling me to get a second opinion.
So then I called my buddy who is a lawyer and asked him the same question. He said, technically, airlines may have some rules, but that they would likely not press a suffering mental health patient, in the heat of a moment. Plus, he said, the rules would likely not hold up in a court of law, but that it was not a road he couldn’t imagine anyone going down. He also asked if anything was wrong.
HA! Lots of things are wrong! Like dogs laying under tables inside restaurants where my food is. Or dogs getting all the privileges of humans with none of the allergies. These dog people just get such tunnel vision when it comes to them and their dogs…
Anyways, I checked a bunch of the airlines’ rules for emotional support animals and they were basic boilerplate, PC, mumbo jumbo, ripe for the exploiting. The next step was picking out a sucker and booking a flight. Delta seemed just pesky enough that the fight would be fun.
As you can probably guess, no one is going to make a stink about a small cup of pudding, so I had to go big. Stupid big. I bought boxes of pudding mix and made them all. Packed them into the biggest bowl they sold at Target. I pasted my emotional support certification (the internet is amazing, huh?) right atop this two-hander of a bowl and was ready to fly.
My last thought before walking into the airport was, “How has no one ever thought of doing this before?”
Other travelers at LaGuardia seemed not to notice and the TSA seemed typically indifferent too. I began to wonder if this whole “Emotional Support Chocolate Pudding” gambit was big enough. But the gate agent gave me a look of bewilderment that suggested a scene would soon ensue. I had prepped for weeks and they had no idea who they were going up against.
I knew and could recite that support dogs were allowed on Delta flights so long as they didn’t bark excessively, growl, become physical with other passengers, and eat others’ goods, requirements with which my bowl of pudding was complying. I knew it would have to go under the seat in front of me for takeoff, even if I was next to a vacant seat. I knew them better than they knew themselves.
And so I said that thing about chocolate pudding versus chocolate labs and blah blah blah my mental health journey and you know what happened? Nothing. The poor sap backed down. She didn’t pursue it. Just walked away and let me sit there with a vat of chocolate pudding like it wasn’t a big deal.
Can you believe that? In this post 9/11 world, that Delta Airlines cares that little about making sure their passengers aren’t doing something obviously shady. You show up with something completely preposterous and they just let you do it, like some kind of laissez-faire pudding cuck. What kind of lunatics are they going to let on other flights?
I’m not sure if I’m more alarmed by the indifference or the inaction, but either way, I would never fly Delta again.