Everybody fears getting on a 4.5 hour flight, trapped in the middle of 2 people who are either huge, obnoxious, stinky, or all of the above.
Enter my trip to Vegas a couple of months ago.
I had to go to Vegas for a trade show, so luckily I was traveling alone and was able to worry about nobody else’s reactions or responsibilities but my own.
As I was waiting for my “Zone 5” to be called, I’m standing in line and this guy rudely forces his carry-on to squeeze in between me and the guy in front of me. As he stood there obnoxiously slurping his extra-large drink, I imagine was ironically diet coke, he was either oblivious that he cut in front of me, or just didn’t even care. I bet he was even thinking
I’m 4x the size of him, I’d like to see him TRY and say something.
I play out these scenarios in my head, which usually are made up based on a first impression to which I have already categorized them, or made up my mind that I knew exactly who or what they are all about. It’s bad, you shouldn’t do that.
I stand there in line, let him in and just pretend like it’s no big deal. As it turns out, Chuck was Zone 4 anyways so the point that he cut in front of me was moot. Yeah, I know his name because as you can guess we were placed next to each other on the plane.
Chuck is easily around 320 lbs, and since he was next to the window, he spilled over into about half of the middle seat.
I looked at the arm rest to see if there was any possible way of trying to force it down – All kinds of nope, and I was faced with 2 choices:
- Discreetly request an alternate open seat
- See how I might be able to show love when most people wouldn’t.
As I start putting my carry on in the overhead compartment, I see Chuck staring at me. Then he turns to the guy in the aisle seat and says,
“Hey George, move over so you can let this poor gentleman get to his seat.”
I looked at George, and saw him roll his eyes out of disgust and annoyance as he got up and let me in.
“Heads up brother, this poor gentleman needs to squeeze in here”
“I’ll try and suck in myself, but hopefully I won’t squish you too much!”
I can’t even explain the tone in his voice, but I can tell you that it immediately made me think that 4.5 hours is nothing compared to what this guy probably goes through his entire life. He was obviously way more uncomfortable than I was.
I just tried to situate myself in a way I that wouldn’t seem obvious that he was suffocating me.
Throughout the 4.5 hours, I learned about Chuck and his distant brother George. They were going to the same show as me, and I came to find out that Chuck pastors at a local rehabilitation center on his free time. Awesome.
This flight was the most uncomfortable flight I’ve ever been in my entire life, and although I’d like to think that my attitude and outward appearance made it seem that I was really trying to not make a big deal, however I know where my heart was at the time and I am confessing that given the opportunity again, I probably would not be able to endure another 4.5 hours, and I’m not sure I’m ok with that.