A couple of weeks ago, I went on a business trip to scenic Scranton, PA. While the trip was an interesting series of drives through unknown and unfamiliar territory (punctuated by periods of actually doing work), one of the more memorable experiences came during my flight home.
For some reason, I was put in the middle seat of my row for both of my longer flights on the trip. On our flight from Cincinnati to Salt Lake City, I sat behind a bald man who, as soon as the wheels left the ground, plopped his seat back as far as it could go. My passive-aggressive efforts to persuade him to sit up were fruitless and I ended up spending three hours wedged behind a seat in what remained of my personal space that had been too small to begin with.
When I got home, I found two instances of creative works that captured my experience. One was a strip from my new Dilbert Desk Calendar (which is very poorly designed this year, but that’s another story) with Dilbert sitting on a plane behind some big lout who leaned his chair all the way back into his lap. The other was a brief article in the Reader’s Digest about a woman who was stuck behind someone who had invaded her space by leaning back. I was really empathizing with her through her article as she told about her efforts to entertain herself (we had both read the SkyMall magazine, for example). Then, at the end of the article, she said that she “waved her warm towel in surrender.”
What the belgium? I have absolutely no sympathy for someone who’s spacious first class living space was invaded by the slight recline of a seat back that was too far away for her to even reach. When the seat back is so close that you cannot bend down and reach your shins, then you can complain you spoiled, arrogant little columnist.