Monday, June 08, 2015


I’m in Minneapolis for Lowe Sisters Weekend 2015. I flew Southwest and on the first leg of my flight from PDX-->PHX I let myself believe, and desperately hope, that I wouldn’t have to sit right next to someone else on the plane. I had visions of letting my elbows spread out on the armrests, of drifting off to sleep and letting my head totter haphazardly in any direction, of not having anyone ask to be let out of the row to go to the bathroom. It was only a 3-hour flight, so it wouldn’t exactly be the end of the world to spend it within 3.5” of another human, but once you have it in your head that you might actually have a little space around you, it feels like it’s your right. It’s what you deserve. Like anything short of a 2 foot radius to the next human being would be an unfair disaster.

I had good reason to believe I might have a seat open next to me. First, there were only about 20 people standing in line for the C boarding group. Basic math led me to believe that meant there would be 20+ open seats on the plan. As I was boarding my suspicions were confirmed by a flight attendant, telling one of the passengers just ahead of me that there should be 25 open seats. Of course one of those open seats was going to be next to me. Second, I was at the end of boarding group B, and I purposely walked to the back, looking for a nearly empty row to sit in. There were only the few C group people boarding behind me and still plenty of open seats at the front of the plane.

I sat in the aisle seat, buckled my seatbelt, started reading on my Kindle, and spread my arms all over those rests, feeling confident I would be staying put.

This story can only end one way. The second-to-last passenger to board the plane heads to the back of the plan, makes eye contact with me and motions to the center seat. He settles in.

We all know at this point that all my hopes and dreams have been crushed, and the little pieces have been swept into a bag, and stored just out of reach in the overhead compartment. But not only is this guy sitting in my imagined space of the middle seat, he’s also sitting in my actual space, with his legs spread within centimeters of my legs and his arms not only covering both armrests, but extending at least 2” into my seat. So much for even 3.5” of space.

And maybe this is when I start to get a little irrational, and start imagining various scenarios where I called him out for his manspreading.
  • First scenario: At thirty-second intervals, I bump his elbow with my arm as if I have an uncontrollable twitch. 
  • Second scenario: I have pre-printed cards that say, “No one likes a manspreader.” I hand him one. Burn. 
  • Third scenario: When he leaves to go to the bathroom, I lift up the armrest between our seats, I put my feet up on his seat, nuzzle my head in, lean my Kindle on my bent legs and comfortably read my book. I pretend not to hear or notice him when he returns. 
  • Fourth scenario: As we’re leaving the plane, I hand him a bill for 1/10 of my plane ticket since he took up 1/10 of my space. I accept PayPal. 
I’ve got to get some cards printed, so I can be ready for next time.

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