Unless you're eating poached salmon and having a eunuch fan you with palm fronds in first class while a luxury dental hygienist irrigates your mouth with a few spritzes of Dom Pérignon, air travel is just the worst. You have to lug all your shit to some shitty airport, which is always situated on the outskirts of town like a prison, stand in line listening to other people's mucus dislodge itself, and, at the end of all that schlepping and queueing, you have to scramble into an aluminum fuselage, fold your spine in half, and pray that the pilot isn't dramatically suicidal. If that weren't bad enough, sometimes you have to sit next to a full-blown creep, somebody like recent JetBlue passenger Brett Zorse, who allegedly put his hand under the skirt of a female passenger and "massaged her thigh" while she was trying to numb the horrors of air travel with sleep.
According to an affidavit docketed last Wednesday in U.S District Court in Brooklyn, Zorse, a 50-year-old "independent financial services professional," assaulted a 32-year-old woman while she was asleep on a JetBlue flight from San Francisco to New York last year. The woman told investigators that Zorse had been acting like a major creep from the moment they took their seats, introducing himself as "Brett," and trying to divert topics of polite, we're-sitting-four-inches-apart conversation to things of a "sexual nature."
The Smoking Gun has the rest of the skin-crawling details:
At one point, the woman recalled, she offered to retrieve something Zorse wanted from the overhead compartment, remarking that she would save him from having to climb over her to get his belongings. "I'd really like to climb all over you," Zorse replied, according to the woman.
As detailed in a probable cause statement, a few hours into the flight the woman took medication to help her fall asleep. About 40 minutes before arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport, the woman "woke up… to Zorse massaging her thigh underneath her skirt."
When the woman demanded to know what he was doing, Zorse reportedly said, "It's not like I molested you. It's not like I stuck my finger in your pussy or grabbed your tits." Zorse followed up that statement by noting, "I wouldn't mind a massage right now."
When I see someone leave their dog's shit steaming on the sidewalk, say, or sneeze all over the apples at the grocery store and just walk away like apples are designed specifically for catching sneezes, I think, "What the fuck is that person thinking?" Those, however, are all relatively benign social annoyances. Zorse's behavior, on the other hand, speaks to an undercurrent of entitlement so strong that it goes beyond just fracturing the tenuous social contract we all (should) live by. Nobody is entitled to treat another person's body as a mannequin in a please-touch museum. That goes for avuncular older men who "steer" their way past women by putting an arm around their shoulders and huskily whispering, "Excuse me," and airline creeps who just can't bear to sit next to another person without taking the proximity forced on economy-class travelers by an airline's parsimony as a sexual overture.
Zorse has been charged with simple assault, and, if convicted, could face up to six months in jail.