July 19, 2006

The trip from California to Texas was interesting. We were on a larger plane for the flight to Houston than we had been from Chicago to San Fran and this one had an aisle 3 seats wide instead of two. We boarded the plane and discovered our seatmate already seated in the outside seat. He was none too happy about "being forced" to stand up, let us stow our bags and get seated.

I got stuck in the middle.

Mr. Family & Business Man instantly settled onto both armrests and practically opened his paper in my face.

Nice. It was going to be like that, huh?

At first, I tried to draw my personal space in a little, but it became very quickly clear that if I did that, he'd just quickly fill that void with himself. I pulled a little toward A, so he instantly opened his paper even wider until he was clearly in my seat-space.

Okay, at this point, I can:
A. say something
B. give up
C. fight back
D. fight back subtly

Well, A. would likely do no good at all. He was smug every time he took up more space. He was obviously playing games and once he realized that A and I were "together" and not "just" travelling companions, he got more snide and more smug, both. Speaking to him about the issue was going to be a point in his book and probably only encourage him to get worse ... or, most likely, give him the opportunity to say something derogatory and then get worse.

B. Well, duh, that's NOT an option.

C. Mostly see A. And, as the situation progressed - before we'd even taken off! - I knew nothing direct was going to work with this guy.

Fine. D, then. It was going to be a loooooong flight. I put my elbow behind his on the armrest. He thunked me with his, acting as if he'd slipped ... but there was no apology. I kept my ground and read my book. If he moved, I tried to regain my personal space back ... not creep into his, I wouldn't sink completely to the level of his games. A few times, I moved to regain space before he moved.

This works fairly well until he was almost done with his paper. Then, he put his knee against mine and began rubbing.


This can be a tight quarters gesture. It can also be something more intimate among a couple. Trust me when I say, this was definitely not a tight quarters accidental rubbing up against. Ugh, I could feel his smarminess.

I finally hauled my knee away slightly and bumped his hard as I got into my backpack. He smirked. Dammit, he considered that a point. Stupid asshole and his game-playing. And I was falling right into it.

Light bulb.

I reached for A's hand. Grimace from him. Point for me.

Honestly, I thought when this little stupid dance had begun that he was going to be a someone from whom I would have to earn a little respect by being diligent about my personal space. Now, as I sunk into this stupid game playing more fully, I realized this wasn't true. He was pissy people were sitting next to him. He was pissy we were gay. He was pissy because he couldn't make me move to another seat. (Of which there were some in the back.) He was pissy because I wouldn't just give up.

Grrrrrrr. What to do now? I didn't really want to have to play games the entire flight to Houston. So, I decide to completely distract myself by watching the Clone Wars cartoons on my computer. I dutifully pull it out and set up ... and I have now unwittingly scored more points against Mr. Bugger. The 17" laptop with the nifty skin on it has begrudgingly impressed him. So much so, that he has to pull his peecee out of its bag and immediately commence working on his nifty Excel spreadsheets.

I insert headphones and proceed to ignore him.

He attempts a few more space grabs. I don't let him, but no longer fret over it. I can now feel him seething, but I do my best to simply ignore the sithspawn annoying little womprat. (I read about 4 Star Wars books during the trip ... can you tell?)

He actually began shifting his screen on his little desk so that I could/would see what he was working on. I think he was hoping to catch me peering at his screen so he could squawk. I watched my cartoons instead.

Boy, was I happy to get off that flight.

As we migrated through the Houston airport to catch our connection to DFW, I began discussing rude people and their inability to sense personal space. Loudly. He was right behind me. I launched into a tirade about people who think the world is owed to them and we should genuflect to them. I also said something about I should have called his wife (his desktop wallpaper was the little missus) and told her about the knee-rubbing bit. For some reason, he decided to walk instead of taking the slidewalks.

The flight to DFW, thankfully, was peaceful.

And, the flights home were also peaceful. Sadly, I cracked the heck out of my knee on the first flight. By the time we made our connecting flight in Cleveland, the stupid thing was both bruised and swollen. Ahh well. The perils of flying.

We're home now and I'm back to work today. I had wanted to have a day off before going back to work, but A's interview with the seminary couldn't be scheduled until Monday, so it is what it is. She, of course, is off the rest of the week.

So ... when posed with the interesting imposed travel companion ... how do you assert yourself? Do you play the games? Do you try to ignore it?

Posted by Red Monkey at July 19, 2006 3:14 AM | Vacations and Photos | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |


6000 said:

I always fight back. And the only flights I make are 12 hours SA - UK, so it's always worth it.
And, if I believe someone is reading as I type on my laptop, I start writing about them. Usually not entirely nice stuff. What are they going to say? huh? HUH?!?!?

P.S. Bill Gates is lovely.

July 19, 2006 6:27 AM


Radioactive Jam said:

Don't think I've had to deal with anyone as 'interesting' as the overgrown two-year-old on your flight. I was on one relatively short (about an hour) flight where I was literally sandwiched between two super-sized people. Full flight so no seating options; I just leaned forward, yielded 1/3 of my space to each wide-bodied giant, and endured.

I think *they* were more uncomfortable than I was; not sure how they even jammed their respective hips between the armrests. Seriously. Had it been a longer flight I'd have demanded a seat change or waited for a later flight.

July 19, 2006 9:41 AM


blueyes said:

I dunno, I have a big mouth and most likely would have said something considering he was just a business dude. Now if he looked like a freak I probably would've done the same thing you were doing. I didnt bring my tablet last time I took a flight but I'll be danged if I don'travel without it again!! At least the rest of the flights were tolerable.

July 19, 2006 10:28 AM


guppyman said:

Isn't flying fun? Esp.. when you get to ride in the cattle car....

But I agree with 6000... you should have started writing a letter...

Dear whoever... I'm writing this from the airplane. you wouldn't believe this obnoxious jackass they stuck me next to. His breath stinks, he obviously needs to buy a better brand of deoderant, and he has no sense of where his seat ends and mine begins.....

I'd do it just to see the reaction....

Red Monkey said: OOOOOOO ... damn, why didn't I think of that at the time, 6k, guppy? Here I was "worried" (not really) that he would think I was reading his screen. I should have flipped that around and written about him! Hopefully I won't need that strategy in the future, but I'm sure going to remember it!!!
July 19, 2006 12:11 PM


Chris said:

I hate people like that on a plane. I would almost prefer snakes.

I approve of your methods (and the Clone Wars cartoons, nice choice). I haven't been involved in many border wars on a plane since I don't fly much, but finding peevy ways to annoy a jerk is always fun.

July 21, 2006 5:19 PM


Kyle Korleski said:

That's one of the reasons why I hate flights. But there lies the problem, you can't call the airline and ask if your passenger is riding light or is a big pig.

I usually make a note to complain about these people in my blog and to get as much info as possible from them.

If someone invades my personal space and they get too bad, I just get them with a pen.

July 26, 2006 12:42 AM
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