Now that I’ve gotten the need to complain about the other strips off my chest for a bit, I’d like to go back to explaining what I think really happened in the airport. My personal opinion was that Jobsworth started out playing the fool on purpose. What he probably wanted to happen was to have the kids put the guns away so that he could deliver a quiet lecture about the importance of not having any sort of disruption on a commercial aircraft. If this is the case, the reason he thought that there was more to the picture than two kids who don’t really have any idea that making noise is a bad idea at twenty thousand feet was that, as always, John and Elly’s reaction to the situation was pants-soiling terror. We know that they believed that they were being judged and found wanting by a hostile crowd who will spend the rest of their lives talking about the awful parents who blah-blah-blah because we know that they have an exaggerated fear of being publicly upbraided for incompetence and stupidity. If I’m right about this, I should think that Jobsworth looked at their faces, noticed that they looked as if they wanted to run in terror and immediately became suspicious of them because they didn’t play along like he’d expected them to. He, if I’m right, expected them to laugh off an absurd situation but got two people looked as if they were worried he’d find their stash. The sad thing is, of course, that the Pattersons never figured this out any more than John ever learned that Jean thought that he was having an affair with Fiona. What they took away from things was not that looking guilty makes authority figures suspicious but that traveling with kids inevitably leads to their humiliation.
What makes this all the more painful to behold is that the Pattersons, as I said, never learned that their default reaction to any sort of stress inevitably leads people to suspect their motives. Their exaggerated fear of being singled out for castigation and humiliation tends to blind them to the fact that looking guilty makes people suspect that they’re guilty even when they’re not. It also explains why the Hell Thérèse suspected Liz for so very long. I should think that Liz’s reaction to a neutral comment her nemesis made about her father’s love of cheating on her mother with some predatory blonde who acted all innocent and helpless was not the expected empathy but to think that not only was she being accused of something but to look guilty. Since she wouldn’t admit that she looked as if she were caught red-handed, she came away with the idea that Thérèse was being unreasonably jealous.
Not, of course, that we can expect anything different from her. Since all the characters are Lynn to one extent or another, I should think that Lynn seems to live in fear of being yelled at all the damned time. It’s why her default reaction to criticism is to whine about being picked on. The idea that criticism isn’t personal isn’t one she can have because she seems to have come from a background wherein she was subjected to non-stop verbal abuse. Since she’s also a very dim woman, she thinks that that sort of thing is normal.