Monday, February 25, 2013

The FAT and Plane of it.



I don’t fly that much, a couple times a year only but when I do have the ancient expectations of the past, you know, nice looking stewardess, not generic stewards (flight attendants), ample leg room, not the torture chair that makes moving impossible and the marginally good food delivered on little trays compartmentalizing each food item, perfectt for those who can’t stand the peas touching their apply sauce.  

Last week I flew from Ontario International to Baltimore with a layover in Salt Lake City.  We almost missed our connection, the gates were miles apart it seemed and the hallways seemed to get narrower with each passing step, maybe that was my claustrophobia kicking in, anyway by the time we arrived at the proper gate the milling crowd looked like a lynch mob ready to attack the weakest link just to satisfy their growing blood lust.  They all knew what was coming and they were trying desperately to justify their growing apprehension with the marvels of technology that still allow us to travel across country in less than 8 hours.

Regardless of the advances of travel and technological options traveling, except perhaps in first class economy class has turned into a dungeon of torture, especially for those above the average height of 5’8” and of average weight, approximately 140 lb.  Females have fewer concerns by virtue of their slighter build and lower heights but even their experiences in current travel have been horrendous.
While standing in the security line in Baltimore a middle ages woman of portly size was complaining at having to remove her shirt to some lecherous security guy hoping for a quick peek, she had even purchased a pass that was supposed to allow her to bypass these exciting events but she was told that on occasion she would be screened like the rest of us cattle, penned in and waiting for our turn to be prodded, poked and humiliated.

A few months ago I was seated in the isle with two empty seats to my left hoping beyond hope that the other two would not arrive, leaving me the unencumbered freedom to actually move a muscle or two when a very large, overly large, (fat) man claimed the seat next to mine.  As he sat down his massive belly freely spilled into my personal area literately pushing me into the arm guard, pinning me helplessly in my seat. My left arm was useless as I struggled to regain some power over the seat I’d paid for, but to no avail I couldn’t budge this massive unmovable force.

I was able to reach up and touch the steward, whoops flight attendants button and after a few minutes and elderly woman with gray hair, excessive wrinkles in her hands and face touched the service button off and asked what I needed. 

“um, well,” I stammered a bit not quite sure how to proceed.  

“um, I paid for an entire seat but it seems as though a third of my seat is being annexed and overrun, would you check to see if there are any other available seats, please?”

The look I got from the flight attendant (steward is insensitive, it actually implies some competence) was unbridled anger and disgust and with a practices shove off she quickly announces, a bit too loud perhaps that the plane was full so please buckle your seat and get ready for takeoff.

“but I don’t have my entire seat…”,I tried to continue as she apologized to the weighty individual next to me who was by the way not only taking my seat but the half of the empty seat, his massive legs spread apart with one large shoe sitting under the seat in front of me and another to his left, his leg area was bare except for his large garment bag. I knew that any further words would land me in big trouble and possibly find myself extricated from the plane, I think we all know that look.

The window seat was eventually taken by a petite woman of indistinguishable age and who even though looked perturbed said nothing except a slight role of her eyes as the behemoth extricated himself  on two occasions to waddle down the length of the plane to relieve himself.

What’s funny is I could swear that the pitch of the plane had to be adjusted as he moved back toward the tale section.  The relief when he was gone was only short lived as the circulation came back with pins and needles  just to have my limbs restricted before the transition back to life was complete.
I’m really trying hard not to complain about conditions on board our domestic fleet of planes nor do I decry those entities from exacting their pound of flesh but when I pay for a seat I expect my seat to be all mine.  When I pay $10 for a sandwich I do expect a little taste and perhaps just a little bit more than stale bread, wispy pieces of meat and wilted lettuce.

I know I don’t have to buy the food I could buy it elsewhere but I cannot afford to buy two seat to ensure one of my own, nor can I afford the leg room I require for a 6’3” frame, but I do expect that service be helpful, the food offered edible and for those with larger frames to have to sit somewhere other than next to me.  Be as fat as you want but be prepared to pay for it.  I suffer being tall, you should suffer being fat…..