I'm with you 100%.
Years ago I saw the Michael Moore movie "Bowling for Columbine." There's one part of the movie where he brings up fear, that in the US the news media is hell bent on scaring the shit out of us, screaming DANGER at every corner. That awareness could make a person feel more sensitive to things.
Another reason I think, is that unless you live in a major city, you probably don't come in contact with a whole lot of people on a daily basis, so the thought of being on an airplane or on mass transit could fill people with anxiety, just because they're not used to it.
I live in NYC, years ago when I took the subway to and from work, in the summer I might take a shower when I got home, especially if it was humid. I don't know what the weather was like in Panama that day, I remember when I was there about 14 years ago, in January it was pretty hot and humid.
I think Zach might be one of those people who gets a pass because of his looks. He can be rude, he can say things in not a nice way, and he'll get excused because of his looks.