≡ Menu

The Passive Aggressive, Idiotic Battle In The Air

“No way. Never. No.”

Last Sunday I flew to Washington DC to give a keynote address at the OSEP Mega Leadership Conference. Mega as opposed to ultra, I suppose.

When I checked in I learned that the flight was full and that no, there would be no aisle seat for tall me. That was fine. Every single time this has happened, there has always been a kind soul next to me. “Yes, I would be willing to let you have the aisle seat” is usually how it goes.

And even if someone had ever said “No, I’m sorry but I’ll keep it” I would have been completely understanding.

This time, the woman sitting next to me was probably 5’6 and could not have weighed more than 110 lbs. She couldn’t even reach the vents; she had to turn on the air with a pen.

Now, I want it to be clear that in no way did I feel entitled to her seat. Our tickets say what they say, and hers said that she got to be comfortable while I was condemned to misery.

But I was going to ask. If you had femurs this long you would ask. So I put on my winningest voice and smile and said “Is there any way you would be willing to trade me seats?”

She looked into my eyes and said “No way. Never. No, absolutely not. No.” Then she narrowed those eyes at me, daring me to say something. “What? I said no. What?”

I narrowed my eyes as well. We stared. I finally said: “I’m going to make you so uncomfortable.”

She snorted. “Sure you are.”

And then, as they say…it was on.

We faced forward. I splayed my elbow over her armrest and made sure my knee was pressing against hers. She pressed back and hissed occasionally, and she kept grunting and sighing against my elbow.

She sipped her cranapple juice like a fine lady, so I slurped my Coke like a mule, right by her ear. I opened my Kindle and started to read, while she opened Skymall and looked at a weird skin-colored butt implant that looks like a big fleshy contact lens.

I went to the lavatory once and came back to find a torn-out page of Skymall sitting on my seat. It was a picture of a barking dog. What did she mean by this?

I decided to watch the in-flight movie. Without looking at her, I silently offered her one headphone to see if she wanted to press heads together and share the quirky enjoyments of Win Win. She did not accept.

She pretended to sleep, but snored so loudly and consistently that I knew she was awake and was honking in my ear at the Devil’s bequest.

By the time we touched down in Detroit, I could barely hear over the sound of all the teeth-grinding we were each doing.

But we never looked at each other again after the initial exchange. We had been grim, resigned combatants, and now our bones were twisted and warped from the positions we had maintained for over three hours.

The conference was great, I have a lot of new speaking offers coming in, and walking around DC was a lot of fun.

On the way back last night, I was in the middle seat again, next to a guy who was even taller than I was. We laughed from Phoenix to Salt Lake. It was better than crying, and there were already a score of infants covering that.

If you see this lady, she wears a side ponytail and a scrunchee. Her eyes are a dull blue. More than that, I couldn’t say. Beware.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Boris August 4, 2011, 9:52 pm

    What is it about air travel that makes everyone have gas and makes everyone’s gas smell the same?

  • Todd August 5, 2011, 7:08 am

    Side ponytail? Was it the girl from ‘Napoleon Dynamite’?

  • Heather August 5, 2011, 8:21 am

    YOU ran into her TOO?!?!? :O Damn! I ran into her a few years ago on a flight BACK from Cincinnati to Huntington! Isn’t she pleasant? 😉 They want to ban babies (which I think is stupid) but someone like that is allowed to breathe Our air. . . shameful! I’d have given you my aisle seat, but ONLY if I could keep the plane’s windowshade closed. I don’t like heights and planes are no exception. That and no one wants to be covered in vomit.

  • Gustavo| Frugal Science August 5, 2011, 2:45 pm

    I could draw a comic around this story. You know? I would use Edna Mode from “The Incredibles” as the character, without the glasses and with a ponytail.

  • Sarah September 13, 2011, 9:00 am

    I had to come back here and comment on this, because my boss just got back from a conference and had a confrontation just like this on the flight back. He is a large man and this woman next to him kept pushing him because she claimed he was encroaching on her space. He finally told her if she kept pushing him he would push her straight down the aisle. I immediately thought of your post and showed it to my coworkers, who loved it!

    • Josh Hanagarne September 13, 2011, 11:05 am

      Awesome! Tell your boss I promise never to sit by him on an airplane.