by John Wilson
Always put down the arm rests.
In all fairness, I’m not skinny. I have to be cognizant of staying on my side of the seat and have a tendency to take up more leg room than I really should. I understand it sucks to be heavy and I get how hard it is to lose weight. Therefor, if you sit beside me on the plane, make sure you follow these rules:
I strongly suggest, before anyone sits down beside you, you immediately put the arm rests to their lowered and locked position. Here’s why:
On a recent trip back from San Diego, I got stuck in the middle seat. This is never a good thing, even if two members of the Swedish Bikini Team are on both sides. You can’t stick your feet in the aisle, and you can’t lean or look out of the window. It’s just bad.
In this case, I was stuck between a self-proclaimed “big man” coworker and a gentleman who was no less than 400 pounds. I’m not kidding, this guy was not only in his seat, the aisle, and my seat, but he was also taking up all of the leg room in my section of the “under-seat area.” It was so bad the flight attendant felt bad for me and asked me several times if I needed any extra water, a pillow, and shot me the knowing – I’m glad I’m not you – glance.
Normally, I’m a pretty easy to get along with nice guy. But seriously, this guy was 100% invading my space, no matter how many times I huffed, sighed, elbowed him, wiggled or moaned. When he wasn’t snoring loud enough that the people around me were laughing, he was bouncing his leg hard enough to cause the people in the aisle across from us shoot me dirty looks.
About two hours into the flight, I decided my only defense was to put down the arm rest and at least get him kind of off of my side. I looked down at the arm rest but there was absolutely no way I could lower it on to this guy’s leg which was nearly 50% under the arm rest. I did the only thing a self-respecting business person could do, I lied about work.
When the guy woke up and noticed me kicking his leg to get to my computer stowed beneath the seat, I said warmly, “Hey, sorry to bother you but I need to get this report done before we land. I don’t want to elbow you so I’m going to lower the arm rest.”
I’m not joking you, the guy asked me, “Seriously?” like I was committing a crime to claim my section of the seat. I replied, “sorry, man” and gave him my best poker face. The airline industry should seriously consider requiring individuals who weigh more than 350 pounds to buy two seats. When I’m one of the skinniest people in the row…
The dude literally had to move completely off the seat to give me room to put down the arm rest. When the arm rest finally reached the full down position, it was like I moved directly to First Class. I could feel my legs again, I could reach the magazine pocket and my lungs could fully expand.
The guy got mad.
To rub it in, I powered up my computer, opened a Word document, sighed a big loud sigh, closed the laptop and muttered, “I guess this can wait until my layover” closed the computer, spread out in the seat, and drifted off to a warm nap, comforted of the rhythmic leg-bouncing all the way to Atlanta.