Too Polite for a Man My Size

The Winter quarter is coming to an end which means air travel is once again right around the corner. But I have learned from my past transgressions. My one bag is packed weighing in under 50 pounds, I have put my overcompensating smile away, and I have enough books to make it around the world without ever having to talk to another person. But no matter how prepared I may be, there is still one villain lurking, waiting for me.


My nemesis. We meet again.

I was not built for airplane seating. It’s not that I am particularly fat — I can buckle my seat belt just fine — but I am just wide. I’m a big guy with big manly shoulders and arms that require the use of both armrests to cradle my rippling biceps and stuff. Plus my legs can’t fit comfortably in my own car, lot less wedged behind a man reclining back in his seat so far that he’s practically in my lap.

This all is uncomfortable enough but it is made a thousand times worse

by my ridiculous politeness. You have to have a certain arrogance to be big on an airplane, or at least to be big and comfortable. You have to take the space you need, other passengers be damned. That’s why you hear so many horror stories about obnoxious flyers, those guys know what’s up and how to make it work.


You see a pest. I see a hero.

I, on the other hand, am always so worried about making others uncomfortable that I would go to great lengths for your comfort. I make myself as small as I possibly can, pulling my arms in tight to my body, leaving both armrests free. I try to avoid any sort of contact. Accidental arm touching, eye contact, pesky breathing. It’s three hours of very focused hell. It is very hard to write without my elbows invading my neighbors space but I try. And then put it away after accidentally crossing over the armrest into enemy territory and the writing operation is deemed to risky.

I am always spitting out apologies for any misstep. Apologies that are usually met with a grunt as he falls back to sleep. Once we land, my neighbors will exit the plain after a “comfortable” ride and go about their day, completely unaware of the sacrifice I made. But a great man does not seek praise for the service he provides.

So tomorrow, I will board a plane headed home and suffer in silence so that everyone can travel in peace.


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