April 4, 2012

Your Seat Only Reclines Three Inches

I just can't get comfortable.
There are many reasons to hate air travel. If the airlines or airports aren't obnoxious enough, plenty of our traveling peers also turn inhumane once they are dumped off at the airport curb. Traveling with Hens on Ice, we've had many international flights and I've gotten more experience observing the travel day pecking order. People who treat the airplane like their living rooms are one special breed of travelers.

We would all love to be in our living rooms, reading our favorite book and drinking a glass of wine by the fireplace. But we are not. We are in a tiny vessel in the sky holding hundreds of people uncomfortably. Clearly air travel is miserable if a staind steel wheely cart holding cans of Pepsi can make me flap with excitement. (Regular or diet?!) On our most recent flight, the woman across the aisle from me either had never flown before, or had flown far too often to make herself so seemingly at home in her economy seat. Nose is her book and shoes off her feet, she shifted dramatically every few minutes, unable to get fully comfortable in her stiff seat. But unlike most of the plane, she refused to accept this fate. So she turned fully sideways and leaned her back on the young man next to her, who I assumed was her son or payed escort. This left the question of what to do with her legs, but she made it clear there was no question in her own mind. She casually slid her legs over the arm rest so her legs from the knees down extended across the aisle. Since planes are made "cozy," her feet easily rested on my own arm rest. So now she was comfortable but I was not, inches away from her torn nylons and now frozen in horror.

Thankfully for me, the aisle is a busy pathway for each passenger to use the micro bathroom at least once, as if it was a tourist trap. The next tourist forced Madame Comfy to shift and lower her feet out of the way. (Thank goodness that drink cart didn't barrel through!) But she still managed to keep one leg dangling casually over the arm until the drink cart brushed her toes a few times.

I tried to forget about her for the rest of the flight with my two Euro chips and vertical nap. I woke up abruptly to an announcement in Dutch by a native Spanish speaker and hoped that our flight was simply about to land. Out of the corner of my eye, I still saw a swinging foot to my right. I gave my subtle look at annoyance and knew this social anomily was out of my control.

So if social norms go out the emergency exit when she boards a plane, where's that drink cart to ram her elbow or ankle when we need it most?

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